Bulls n' Bears

Intimity vs Isolation - Causes, Results, Impact

Intimity vs isolation – causes, results and long term impact

Transactional analysis seeks to help people to reach an adult ego state and “I’m OK, you’re OK” relational state. Erik Erikson considers intimity vs isolation one of the eight psychosocial stages of life, typically achieved in early adulthood or college age. Within personal relationships, there can be a war within ourselves of intimity vs isolation. Intimity is more than sexuality; it is emotional intimacy.


A fear of intimity is due to a fear of rejection or loss. By rejecting all relationships, we are left only with isolation. Given that humans are a social species, true loners are rare.
However, by choosing to maintain a specific emotional distance with others, we fulfill our initial desire for social relationships and social obligations. However, a fear of intimity prevents the deep emotional ties required for life long friendships, successful marriages and good mentoring relationships.


The difference between casual friends and true friends is the level of intimacy. By keeping others at arm’s length, one may have a large group of acquaintances for partying or activities but no one to rely upon in a medical emergency or to cry with when true disaster strikes.

The compromise of the intimity vs isolation is either ending relationships as soon as they get too deep or deliberately seeking relationships that have no depth. A fear of intimity more than sexuality can result in seeking one night stands.  A fear of intimity more than sexuality can result in sexual relationships without emotional depth out of a fear of rejection if they get to know us too well. As soon as the man seems to commit or she mentions “getting serious”, a string of excuses is used to justify breaking up.

The individual who fears intimity subconsciously chooses to end the relationship because this is perceived as less painful than the other side rejecting them. Transactional analysis can help individuals identify their reasons for fearing intimity, but may not be enough to improve current relationships built upon a defined distance between partners.

When a family is formed among two people desperate for connection but lacking intimity, the odds of break up and divorce approach 80%. Having children to create intimity when there is none only adds stress to a fragile, shallow relationship. Choosing to have children without a partner is an increasingly common choice for young women who want a family but cannot seem to find a good partner, despite the decreasing quality of life for children born to single parents from higher drug use and incarceration to the high risk of poverty for mother and child due to lack of a second income throughout the child’s life.

A fear of intimity and refusing to commit creates another generation that is left with a string of broken, shallow relationships and their own fear of intimity due to fear of abandonment.