Fear of Intimacy

Dear Marie:

I feel so embarrassed asking you this but I really need your help. About 3 months ago, I met a very nice gentleman at my church. He’s 76, which is about my age. We hit it off immediately. We have been talking a lot over the phone and at church. I really like him and I know he likes me. Last week, he asked me if we could start dating. I told him I would have to think about it.

I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming but I didn’t. I do want to date him. The problem is, I have only been with my departed husband in an intimate way. We were married for over 50 years before he died three years ago. I'm afraid I won’t know what to do and I won’t meet his expectations.

If we start dating it will lead to intimacy. What do you think? Should this be a concern?

-- Embarrassed in New Jersey

Dear Embarrassed:

You're not alone concerning your issue. Many people who haven’t been married as long as you have a fear of intimacy with someone other than their prior mate. If your husband was your only intimate partner, this understandably causes your fear to be heightened.

You said that you enjoy this gentleman’s company and want to date him ‐‐ then go for it. Your life is not over. It's your human right to be happy. My suggestion is for you to talk with him about your fear if that's comfortable. Talking it over with him will help alleviate your fears.

Talking about subjects like this is another form of intimacy. You'll be amazed at how close the two of you can become by just talking. Before you know it, the next natural progression will occur without you having to do a thing but follow your instincts.

Expectations can set you up for more fear and thus failure. It's best to enter a relationship with an open heart and a ready smile. Go with what comes and make decisions about the relationship as issues arise, not before.

May you live the rest of your life with joy,