It is crucial that all relationship seekers address fear.
So many people ask me how they can create great relationships and how they make sure they will continue to improve. Their prior relationships haven’t lasted and they want to do whatever they can to make the next one work.
Many of those sincere seekers have been inundated with the newest, media-driven innovative solutions, believing that they will be what accurately guides them in achieving those goals.
Am I only attracted to narcissists? Or am I one?
Maybe I have insecure attachment disorder?
Are all women really from Venus?
Is my inner child undernourished?
Do I settle for what’s familiar even if it’s bad?
What am I on the Meyers-Briggs Inventory?
Yet, none of these focused self-help niches encapsulate all of what they are feeling; nor do they provide the answers to what they want to know. The reason is that they may be searching in the wrong place. What makes many people continue to doom their chances of a successful future relationship is that they are afraid to love again. They are unconsciously operating in a pre-defeat mode without realizing they are doing so.
It is crucial that all relationship seekers address that fear. Unaddressed, it will blur out critical data they need to make the right choices.
Some deeper fears of love begin early in childhood. Others come from sequential failed adult relationships where there has been inadequate resolution. Some are combinations of both. Following are eight common underlying fears of love that can keep a person from successfully creating a long-lasting relationship.
1. Fear That No Love Will Ever Last. Anyone who has loved deeply and lost will attest to how hard it is to not become cynical. “Nothing ventured, nothing lost,” replaces “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” The deeper question becomes “How much do I resist love to avoid potential sorrow if it doesn’t work out?” And what is the alternative cost of remaining safe and giving up possibilities that might work out?
“I just can’t believe anyone will keep loving someone forever. I can’t live through the pain again when it’s over.”
2. Fear of Being Too Vulnerable. Love opens up memories of the past, broken dreams, sweet moments that did not pass the test of time, hungers for security, needs to matter, fear of being less than, and risks of loss. The more deeply one loves, the greater the chance of being hurt if it doesn’t work out.
“I can’t take opening my insides again and then finding that I’m not good enough.”
3. Fear of Rejection. The partner in a relationship who needs that commitment the least always has the power in any partnership. Uneven appetites for sex, time, connection, affection, social networks, family, or dreams can keep the person needing more than the other always feeling like “too much.” They may try to suppress their needs to appear less costly, but their expectations will usually emerge in different ways.
“No matter how much I give, I’m never good enough to keep.”
4. Fear of Being Controlled. Love means giving up parts of self to mesh with the other partner. It means not being able to make decisions unilaterally anymore, and trying to negotiate the best possible outcome for two that is fair to both. Some people, in the throes of a new relationship, give up too much of themselves, only to realize later that they cannot maintain that level of sacrifice. If their partner has assumed that would continue, he or she may no longer want to be in the relationship.
“When I finally express my needs, they want to make me the way I was.”
5. Fear of Another’s "Baggage." In new relationships, most people don’t burden each other with damage from the past, required obligations of the present, or attachments to future expectations that may push the other away. Instead, they present themselves as able to take on anything about the other with enthusiasm and seemingly unbridled energy. As the relationship matures, those past, unresolved issues will emerge; demands from the rest of their life will require them to put their energy elsewhere; and separate dreams of the future may collide.
“I thought I could handle his kids, but I can’t stand them anymore.”
6. Fear of Entrapment. Love requires a continuous commitment to relationship over self unless different priorities are agreed upon. A new relationship partner may not be upfront about what he or she requires to stay in a relationship and, then, after it is established, begins to require more than was asked for at the beginning.
Now, there may have been investments made that accompany attachments already formed. Entrapment rarely comes from the other partner unless it is an abusive relationship. It comes from a sense of self-entrapment because one now can’t pay for what they need without sacrificing what is important to them to do so.
“If I get too far into any relationship, it’s going to be impossible to get out.”
7. Fear of Not Measuring Up. New lovers put their best foot forward. They anticipate each other’s wants and try to fulfill them before they are even asked. As people get to know each other, they may begin asking for more as they feel secure. Wanting to continue fulfilling every desire, the partners may begin to feel that they cannot anymore, and the other partner will become disappointed and disillusioned, and eventually leave. If that happens sequentially, they are bound to fear that will happen again.
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“Sure, they all tell me I’m perfect at the beginning, but that always changes.”
8. Fear of Relationships Costing More Than They Give Back. Relationships are similar to any other investments. People put all they have into a future that will pay emotional dividends or at least break even over time. If a person has had many prior relationships in which they end up always putting more into the relationship than they get back, that investment will fail. Now they are putting emotional money into a piggy bank with a hole in the bottom. The other partner may be fine with that imbalanced reward, but the partner continually losing will no longer be able to keep investing.
“I thought if I gave everything, my partner would do the same. Never happens, so why expect it?”