Fear of Intimacy Scale (FIS)

Fear of Intimacy Scale (FIS)


The Fear of Intimacy Scale (FIS) is a self-report measure of the fear of intimacy. It was developed by David Burns in 1980 and has been used in a variety of research studies. The FIS is a 35-item scale that measures the following dimensions of fear of intimacy:

  • Fear of emotional intimacy: This dimension measures the fear of sharing one’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences with another person.
  • Fear of physical intimacy: This dimension measures the fear of sexual intimacy and physical contact.
  • Fear of commitment: This dimension measures the fear of making a commitment to another person in a close relationship.
  • Fear of loss of independence: This dimension measures the fear of losing one’s independence in a close relationship.
  • Fear of engulfment: This dimension measures the fear of being overwhelmed by another person in a close relationship.


Fear of intimacy is generally a social phobia and anxiety disorder resulting in difficulty forming close relationships with another person. The term can also refer to a scale on a psychometric test, or a type of adult in attachment theory psychology.

The fear of intimacy is the fear of being emotionally and/or physically close to another individual. This fear is also defined as “the inhibited capacity of an individual, because of anxiety, to exchange thought and feelings of personal significance with another individual who is highly valued”. Fear of intimacy is the expression of existential views in that to love and to be loved makes life seem precious and death more inevitable. It can result from any number of dysfunctional bonding experiences ranging from early childhood parental attachments to relationship failures in adulthood.

The FIS was developed by David Burns in 1980. Burns was a psychiatrist who was interested in the treatment of anxiety disorders. He developed the FIS to help clinicians assess the level of fear of intimacy in their patients. The FIS has been used in a variety of research studies to investigate the nature and correlates of fear of intimacy.


The FIS is a 35-item self-report scale. The items are rated on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The FIS has a total score that ranges from 35 to 175. Higher scores indicate greater fear of intimacy.

The FIS has good psychometric properties. It has high internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and discriminant validity. The FIS has been shown to be sensitive to change over time and to be different from other measures of anxiety and depression.

Related Terms

  • Attachment theory: Attachment theory is a theory of human development that focuses on the nature of the bond between infants and their caregivers. Attachment theory has been used to explain the development of fear of intimacy.
  • Interpersonal anxiety: Interpersonal anxiety is a general fear of social situations and interactions. Interpersonal anxiety is a common symptom of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder and avoidant personality disorder.
  • Psychological intimacy: Psychological intimacy is a close, personal connection between two people. Psychological intimacy involves sharing one’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences with another person.


  • Burns, D. D. (1980). Feeling good: The new mood therapy. New York: Avon Books.

  • Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. R. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 511-531.

  • Leary, M. R. (1983). Social anxiety: The construct and its measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 713-725.

  • Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2007). Attachment in adulthood: Structure, dynamics, and change. New York: Guilford Press.

Fear-of-Intimacy Scale (FIS)

1 2 3 4 5
not at all characteristic of me slightly characteristic of me moderately characteristic of me very characteristic of me extremely characteristic of me

Part A Instructions: Imagine you are in a close, dating relationship. Respond to the following statements as you would if you were in that close relationship. Rate how characteristic each statement is of you on a scale of 1 to 5 as described below, and put your responses on the answer sheet.

Note. In each statement “O” refers to the person who would be in the close relationship with you.

1. I would feel uncomfortable telling 0 about things in the past that I have felt ashamed of.
2. I would feel uneasy talking with 0 about something that has hurt me deeply.
X3. I would feel comfortable expressing my true feelings to 0.
4. If 0 were upset I would sometimes be afraid of showing that I care.
5. I might be afraid to confide my innermost feelings to 0.
X6. I would feel at ease telling 0 that I care about him/her.
X7. I would have a feeling of complete togetherness with 0.
X8. I would be comfortable discussing significant problems with 0.
9. A part of me would be afraid to make a long-term commitment to 0.
X10. I would feel comfortable telling my experiences, even sad ones, to 0.

11. I would probably feel nervous showing 0 strong feelings of affection.
12. I would find it difficult being open with 0 about my personal thoughts.
13. I would feel uneasy with 0 depending on me for emotional support.
X14. I would not be afraid to share with 0 what I dislike about myself.
15. I would be afraid to take the risk of being hurt in order to establish a closer relationship with 0.
16. I would feel comfortable keeping very personal information to myself.
X17. I would not be nervous about being spontaneous with 0.
X18. I would feel comfortable telling 0 things that I do not tell other people.
X19. I would feel comfortable trusting 0 with my deepest thoughts and feelings.
20. I would sometimes feel uneasy if 0 told me about very personal matters.
X21. I would be comfortable revealing to 0 what I feel are my shortcomings and handicaps.
X22. I would be comfortable with having a close emotional tie between us.
23. I would be afraid of sharing my private thoughts with 0.
24. I would be afraid that I might not always feel close to 0.

X25. I would be comfortable telling 0 what my needs are.
26. I would be afraid that 0 would be more invested in the relationship than I would be.
X27. I would feel comfortable about having open and honest communication with 0.
28. I would sometimes feel uncomfortable listening to 0’s personal problems.
X29. I would feel at ease to completely be myself around 0.
X30. I would feel relaxed being together and talking about our personal goals.

Part B Instructions: Respond to the following statements as they apply to your past relationships. Rate how characteristic each statement is of you on a scale of 1 to 5 as described in the instructions for Part A.

31. I have shied away from opportunities to be close to someone.
32. I have held back my feelings in previous relationships.
33. There are people who think that I am afraid to get close to them.
34. There are people who think that I am not an easy person to get to know.
35. I have done things in previous relationships to keep me from developing closeness.


Note. X denotes items reversed for scoring.

Development and Validation of a Fear-of-Intimacy Scale
Author(s): Carol J. Descutner University of Missouri
Mark H. Thelen University of Missouri
Source: Psychological Assessment. Vol. 3 (2) June 1991, pp. 218-225. American Psychological Association
ISSN: 10403590
Digital Object ID: 10.1037//1040-3590.3.2.218
Article Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Two independent studies showed the Fear-of-Intimacy Scale (FIS) to be a valid and reliable measure of individuals’ anxiety about close, dating relationships. Item-total analyses yielded a 35-item scale with high internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Construct validity was established by factor analysis and significant correlations. The FIS correlated positively with a loneliness measure; it correlated negatively with self-disclosure, social intimacy, and social desirability measures. These relations were maintained when partial correlations were conducted to control for social desirability. Subjects’ FIS scores were significantly related to self-report data (e. g. , subjects with higher scores reported briefer relationships) and positively related to therapists ratings about clients’ fear of intimacy. It was also found that androgynous subjects had less fear of intimacy than masculine and undifferentiated subjects. The FIS holds promise for use in the assessment of clinical populations and for use as a research instrument

Scoring Instructions:

  • Reverse score all the questions with an “X” in front of them:
    1. 5 = 1
    2. 4 = 2
    3. 3 = 3
    4. 2 = 4
    5. 1 = 5
  • Once you’ve reverse scored the “X” items, add up the scores for all of the 35 listed questions.
  • The range is 35-175 (35 = lowest FIS level; 175 = highest FIS level). FIS = Fear of Intimacy.
  • The U.S. average FIS Score is 80-90
    1. Females = 75-85
    2. Males = 85-95



1 = Not at all characteristic of me    2 = Slightly characteristic of me    3 = Moderately characteristic of me    4 = Very characteristic of me    5 = Extremely characteristic of me
Recode items: 3‚ 6-8‚ 10‚ 14‚ 17-19‚ 21‚ 22‚ 25‚ 27‚ 29‚ and 30.
This instrument can be found at: Healthy Marriages Compendium‚ Part 2











  1. 在告诉他(她)我以前感到羞愧的事情时,我觉得不安。
  2. 我很难和他(她)讲起那些深深伤害过我的事。

x3. 当对他(她)表达我的真实的感受时我感觉很舒服。

  1. 如果他(她)心烦时,我有时不愿表示出我很在乎。
  2. 我不愿倾诉我对他(她)的最发自内心的感受。

x6. 我可以毫无顾虑地告诉他(她)我在乎他(或她)。

x7. 我感觉和他(她)在一起非常有归属感。

x8. 当和他(她)讨论的重要问题时我感觉很舒适。

  1. 我有点不愿意对他(她)作出长久的承诺。
  2. 告诉他(她)我的一些经历,即使是糟糕的经历,我也感到很安心。

x11. 当对他(她)表达的强烈爱情的感受时我会感到紧张。

  1. 我发现很难和他(她)开诚布公的讲关于我个人的想法。
  2. 当他(她)依赖我的感情支持时我会感到心神不安。

x14. 我不害怕告诉他(她)我的那些连我自己都不喜欢的事。

  1. 我不愿意为和他(她)建立亲密关系而冒被伤害的风险。
  2. 我很想为自己非常个人的事情保密。

x17. 当我自然而然和他(她)相处时我不感到紧张。

x18. 我很愿意告诉他(她)那些我不愿意告诉其他人的事。

x19. 我打心底里很信任他(她)。

  1. 当他(她)告诉我关于非常个人的事的时,我有时会感到不安。

x21. 我很愿意告诉他(她)那些自己觉得是缺点和障碍的事情。

x22. 我感到很舒服,因为我们之间有一个很紧密的感情纽带。

  1. 我不愿与他(她)分享我的隐私。
  2. 我觉得我可能不会一直与他(她)很亲近。

x25. 我愿意告诉他(她)我需要什么。

  1. 我担心在我们的关系中,他(她)的投入比我大。

x27. 我愿意与他(她)进行开诚布公的交流。

  1. 当倾听他(她)的个人问题时我有时会感到不舒服。

x29. 跟他(她)在一起我感到轻松自如。

x30. 当我们一起谈论我们的个人目标时,我感觉很轻松。




  1. 我回避那些和别人接近的机会。
  2. 我对我以前关系的感受秘而不宣。
  3. 有一些人认为我害怕和他们接近。
  4. 有一些人认为我不是一个容易了解的人。
  5. 在过去的关系中,我的做法使我难以接近他人。

Descutner‚ Carol J.; Thelen‚ Mark H. (1991). Development and validation of a Fear-of-Intimacy Scale. Psychological Assessment: A Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology‚ 3(2)‚ 218-225.

Doi‚ S. C.‚ & Thelen‚ M. H. (1993). The fear of intimacy scale: Replication and extension. Psychological Assessment‚ 5(3)‚ 377-383 

Corcoran‚ K.‚ & Fischer‚ J. (2000). Measures for clinical practice: A sourcebook (Vol. 1). New York‚ NY: The Free Press.

Fallah-Zade H‚ Farzad W‚ 2012. Psychometric Properties of the fear of intimacy scale. Journal of Research in Psychological Health. 5(1): 70-79