People experience considerable embarrassment at displays of overt or straightforward affection between adults. This creates artificial emotional barriers in relationships between adults and separates fathers from children.
To be intimate means being willing to be affected by someone else's feelings, to be aware of the nuances of their inner meanings and their moods. People who feel the need to insulate themselves from the emotional demands of others fear this. Some people adopt patterns in relationships that ensure them a "safe" emotional distance. Others alternate between intimacy and distance or select partners who have some flaw that guarantees unavailability. The failure to permit oneself to participate in intimate relationships leads people to chronic loneliness, unfulfilment, depression and failure of long-term relationships.
Tenderness between adults in many cultures is only tolerated as a precursor to sex. Affection is disguised by jokes and mock abuse. The problem is usually stronger in men because they are more violently and more permanently forced away from all things tender.