Many of us are aware of the bliss that comes from being in a new relationship. The butterflies, the grin you can’t wipe from your face – both are typical of the honeymoon stage in any relationship. But for whatever reason, we tend to let fear and worry creep into even our most fulfilling relationships. Here are 4 of the most common fears wreaking havoc on your relationship.
1. Fear of getting hurt
While the fear of getting hurt is understandable, it is almost guaranteed that you will be hurt in some manner if you enter into a relationship. Even the most functional relationships have their ups and downs. We say things when we’re tired, angry or just not thinking. At times you or your partner will be more sensitive than the other. Hurt happens. But that doesn’t make a relationship bad or broken, and it certainly shouldn’t prevent you from entering into a new one. If you’ve been with someone for a while, don’t let the fear of future hurt poison the time you have together. If they’ve been respectful up to this point, chances are they will continue to respect and value you.
Of course, there is a difference between an occasional hurtful comment or misunderstanding and actual emotional or physical abuse, in which cases you should seek immediate help.
2. Fear of rejection
The fear of rejection is real. While we may know intrinsically that we “are good enough” it doesn’t always shake the feeling or the fear of rejection accompanying it. This is an unhealthy fear because it is self-destructive. Dr. Lisa Firestone, a clinical psychologist, states that “In any relationship, the only person you can control is yourself. By being open to how we are resistant to achieving the love we say we want, we empower ourselves to change 100 percent of our half of the dynamic. Even a less-than-perfect relationship can teach us the ways we limit ourselves and help us grow our capacity to love. It is in our power to decide who we want to be in our relationship and to act in accordance with that, no matter what our partner does” (Firestone, 2014).
3. Fear of settling
While the previous fear dealt with a feeling of inadequacy in oneself, this one is harmful because it stems from the belief that our partner is not good enough. In our swipe-right society where the grass is infinitely greener on the other side, sometimes we let the fear of missing out prevent us from seeing what is right in front of our eyes. If there are things you are unhappy about in your relationship, discuss them with your partner so you can work towards resolving them. Acknowledge the good in your relationship, take time to write down the reasons why so that the fear of what might be out there doesn’t distract from the here and now.
4. Fear of vulnerability
Brene Brown gave a TEDTalk in 2011 titled “The Power of Vulnerability.” In it, she discusses the relationship between connection and vulnerability. She studied people who felt they had a strong sense of love and belonging and found that the “thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable… [they] just talked about it being necessary” (Brown, 2011). Vulnerability is scary and uncomfortable. But in order to truly bond, we have to believe that we are worthy of that connection and allow ourselves the opportunity to be brave. This may allow your partner the same freedom and creates an opportunity for your intimacy to grow.
Brown, B. (2011). The Power of Vulnerability. TEDTalks. New York, NY.
Firestone, L. P. (2014, February 20). 5 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Love. Retrieved February 2018, from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201402/5-ways-overcome-your-fear-love
The National Domestic Violence Hotline. (2018). Abuse Defined. Retrieved February 2018, from thehotline.org: http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/