What prevents us from finding love, no matter how badly we want it? There are plenty of things that get in the way of relationship success, but none is as paralyzing, overwhelming, and self-inflicted as fear. If you’re afraid of love and everything (or anything) that it represents, you’re not alone. But you can’t let that fear hold you back from forging ahead. The cure for what ails you won’t be easy, but with a little courage you will be on your way to a more complete and satisfying love life.
Fear of Vulnerability
Opening up can be scary … for those who are used to being superhuman (at least in their minds), it’s more than that — it’s unimaginable. After all (the fear says) if you let down your guard and show your softer side, won’t you be perceived as weak? Won’t you lose your power? In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Love, by its very definition, is unconditional. Part of the purpose of having a partner is having someone to lean on when you can’t be strong. And no one can be strong all the time. By keeping your walls up at all times, you not only rob yourself of deeper, more intimate connections, you give off the impression of being cold and/or inaccessible. Odds are, your feelings run very deep and that’s why you’re guarding them so carefully. But if you can’t relax a little and let some of your imperfections show, you run the risk of keeping up a perfect exterior — alone.
Fear of Being Hurt
We’ve all had our hearts broken and for many, that suffering leads to the fear of a repeat performance. Some take it so far as to avoid the potential for love at all costs, believing that steering clear and being lonely is better than risking pain and winding up hurt. Trouble is, this attitude is actually responsible for more pain — and it requires a shift in perspective.
Relationships gone wrong are simply preparation for relationships (and eventually, one relationship) that goes right. Rather than using your pain as an excuse, use it as an impetus to take a look back at your past and uncover the lessons in it (and rest assured, there are definitely plenty of them). Did you choose unwisely? Did you expect too much — or too little? Did you create (or participate in the creation of) a perfect storm? Whatever happened, if you can reconcile your own role in it, you can help guarantee that the same thing won’t happen again. How? By changing your behavior going forward. Does that mean you won’t ever get hurt again? Of course not. But as your wounds heal, the battle scars will empower you, rather than continuing to hold you back.
Fear of Commitment
Let’s face it, being responsible to someone other than yourself can be scary. It means taking their desires and feelings into consideration whenever you make a decision — sometimes, even if the decision doesn’t involve them. That, in and of itself, can be enough to instill a fear of commitment in anyone. The reality of relationships, however, is that they require compromise. The upside? Most adjustments are worth the rewards.
If you find yourself paralyzed by a fear of commitment, ask yourself what you’re really afraid of — odds are, it’s not that you’ll be missing out on the next best thing, but rather apprehension about change. If that’s the case, give yourself permission to take things slowly. Change is always easier to accept when you take baby steps, and the bonus of gradual adapting (and connecting) is that you’ll get to enjoy the growth you experience — together — in the process.