These toxic habits may be to blame if you’ve noticed a growing schism between you and your partner. The human brain is a wonderful thing. Unless, of course, it isn’t. Even when we aren’t paying attention, our bodies’ natural defense mechanisms keep us safe from physical and emotional harm. However, trauma and heartbreak can send our emotions out of control, causing us to withdraw from our loved ones. Fear of intimacy is frequently a subconscious way for us to avoid stress and rejection. Because we rarely do it on purpose, it can be difficult to notice when it occurs. Others will often notice if you’re acting strangely before you do. Those closest to you are likely to be your best judges of whether you’re acting differently in states of heightened emotion; we’re rarely the best judges of how we appear. It seems counterintuitive to distance ourselves from others when we most need their help. However, this is a common pattern of behavior among those who avoid intimacy. According to research, the human need for intimacy is masked by a fear of rejection. Opening yourself up to rejection is a significant risk. The agony of attempting and failing to connect with a friend, family member, or romantic partner can be excruciating. Some of us are risk-averse by nature, so we reach out less. Others have had negative experiences in the past that have harmed their confidence. In any case, being alone does not generally make us happy. People can certainly complicate your life, but connecting with others is generally beneficial. Fear of rejection appears to be at the root of intimacy issues, leading us to push people away.