Why Do We Fear Close Relationships?
Advertisement: If you ever need any help with fixing your marriage, I would suggest you take a look at this video (opens in a new tab):
Although we want to love and be loved, we also fear both. Our past experiences have programmed us to associate loving and being loved with unpleasant experiences and especially with feelings of vulnerability.
For these and other reasons, we have developed fears and subconscious resistance concerning getting very close to another, opening our hearts and exposing our needs, fears and feelings.
These fears are a major obstacle toward creating harmonious love relationships, especially with a romantic love partner.
Obviously, if we are affected by such fears, we will develop various defense mechanisms and even behaviors that will sabotage the relationships we are supposedly seeking to create or improve. When we are defensive, we are unpleasant and unloving. A lack of love attracts the same. Openness and love attracts love.
What are some of those fears?
1. We feel vulnerable and are afraid of being hurt if we are open and loving and thus prefer to keep an emotional distance.
In such a case we need to remember that love never creates our pain. Attachment, expectation and needing the other are the cause of our pain. When we love purely without becoming dependent on the other, there can be no pain. There is a difference between codependency and love, which we will discuss in a later chapter. .
2. We do not want to give others the idea that they can do whatever they like with us.
Our fear of being controlled causes us to be unnecessarily defensive and unwilling to give and serve the other when appropriate. Being able to say “no” and lovingly and respectfully establishing healthy and fair boundaries is an essential part of a truthful loving relationship. Getting free from the fear of being controlled and learning to willing and lovingly give to the other what he or she needs is also important.
3. We would like them first to ask for forgiveness or at least realize their mistakes.
Placing prerequisites on our forgiveness is not actually forgiveness. We are the ones who are suffering from our negative feelings associated with not being able to forgive and love. We are the ones who benefit by forgiving and loving. By not forgiving and loving, we are punishing ourselves, not the others. By not forgiving and loving, we are missing an opportunity to learn and grow emotionally and spiritually.
4. We fear we will lose control over them by letting them be too relaxed with us.
Controlling others with negative emotions and a lack of love is more harmful to us that to others. We need to choose between control games and love. Do we want to play these control games or risk losing control and experience pure love? This is our choice.
5. We want to place the blame for our dissatisfaction with ourselves or our lives on someone else who is “responsible”.
We also need to choose between hiding behind the illusion that someone else can be held responsible for our reality, including being held to blame when things go wrong, and moving forward and taking responsibility for our past and present reality. Making a choice here to move forward and take responsibility for our own reality secures us the power to create the reality we prefer. Blaming others for what we are not satisfied with will never improve our reality. We simply condemn ourselves to stagnation, loneliness and unhappiness.
6. We falsely believe that love requires that we must let this person do whatever he or she wants – regardless of ethics or justice – and that this would be totally unacceptable.
We have already explained that this is a mistaken perception of love and forgiveness. We not only have the right but also the obligation to expect, request and at times even demand that the other interacts ethically and justly with us. This can be done with love and respect towards the other and ourselves.
7. We have identified with the role of the victim and need to feel hurt and abused.
Many seek to find their self-worth in the role of the victim or abused. The reasoning is like this. “I am the victim which means that the other is bad and I am good and thus worthy. As long as I am the victim, I am worthy.”
We also have the mistaken idea that we are right when we are angry. Thus we find reasons to feel hurt and angry and then we feel worthy and right. The role of the angry victim get a “double dose”.
8. We are in the role of the interrogator and need to find others’ faults.
Control games never bring lasting happiness. Love does. Do we want to find fault in the others or create loving relationships? Do we want to be right or be loved?
9. We are afraid of expressing love, because we fear that there will not be an adequate response from others and we will feel rejected.
This is a chance we might need to take. When we express love and interest, we might receive the response we need or we might not. This does not make us less worthy. Our self-worth is based on our being and not on how others respond or not. It is much more important to love than be loved. We can always love – that is in our control. We cannot always be loved.
10. We cannot believe that others could possibly love us.
We are in fact very beautiful and lovable just as we are. We are the divine expressing itself in the material world.
11. We have been seriously hurt by this person or others and cannot overcome this bitterness.
This is our test – to be able to forgive and love those who have harmed us. It is easy to love those who give us what we want. Even animals love those who feed them and care for them. Spiritual growth is a process in which we become secure enough within ourselves and our faith in the wisdom and justice of the universe, to be able to love even those who have harmed us.
12. We are afraid we might be abused.
We can be abused only if we allow others to do so or only if the laws of the universe are not working or non-existent. Otherwise only what is beneficial for our evolutionary process can occur.
13. We are afraid of being used, suppressed, limited, trapped or of not being able to be ourselves.
Love can never be used or limited. It is always free. We usually allow ourselves to be used or suppressed when we want or need something from the other. Our attachment and fear cause us to bargain our freedom in order to receive approval, security or pleasure from others. When we are interacting with love without attachment, we do whatever the other asks, when we can do so with love and joy and we lovingly explain why we cannot or choose not to comply when that is the case. We are free to lovingly give and also to lovingly choose not to give.
When we love purely without attachment, we can be totally and honestly “ourselves”.
14. We fear we might fail in the relationship
If this is the case, we have the choice to risk failing in a relationship or create a lonely life without love because we fear the possibility of failure. Another question is what is failure? Even if the relationship does not last for ever, does that mean failure? Have we not learned something and gained something? Perhaps there is no such thing as failure.
15. We fear allowing the others to become too familiar because they will lose interest.
This is an interesting belief that might say more about how we function rather than how the others do. Perhaps we ourselves lose interest in others when they do not pose a challenge anymore, when they can be taken for granted. Love can never tire of loving. Games can become boring. If relationships are games through which we verify our power, interest, attractiveness, or self-worth through the roles we play, then we and others can loose interest. When we experience true love, all of these games dissolve.
16. We fear that we will become weak.
Unfortunately some of us have been programmed to believe that love is a form of weakness and not for the strong and independent. Perhaps that accurately describes the images of love with which we have grown up. Unconditional love is the opposite. It is based on inner strength and personal freedom. We choose to love others because we love them, not because we need them. This requires the highest inner sense of self-worth and security.
17. We fear rejection or abandonment.
To be rejected or abandoned by another is always a possibility. We can have no guarantee that others will always be with us. They may leave me and they might die. They may choose to love someone else more than us. These experiences do not occur unless they are exactly what we need for our evolutionary process and if they are, then they cannot be avoided.
When we fear the above, we might fall into the following traps:
a. Testing the others with negative behaviors to see how steady their love is. Often we push them away and our beliefs become a reality that we ourselves have created.
b. We leave the relationships first, so as to not experience rejection or abandonment and “save face”.
c. We do not allow ourselves to be totally committed and open – supposedly protecting ourselves emotionally – but in reality creating a dead unloving relationship.
18. We fear the responsibilities of a relationship.
This is a choice we can make. We have every right to live alone and not enter into personal love relationships that are naturally accompanied by certain commitments and responsibilities. Some souls have chosen to evolve alone in this way. It is a valid life style. The question is whether we are choosing it because we are being guided by our soul to do so, or because we fear the responsibilities of a relationship. If it is the second reason, then we will be stagnant in our growth process as we fear to enter into exactly the situations required for our learning process.
19. We fear creating the same relationships our parents (or others) had, when we were young.
Our challenge is to learn from those negative prototypes and take that energy and transform it within ourselves by becoming free from their effect on us. We have gained wisdom from those experiences and can now create a new type of relationship free from the negative qualities of our prototypes.
20. We fear the unknown
Evolution by necessity means going where we have not yet been. It cannot be otherwise – or else it would not be evolution. This is true of all aspects of our lives. Freedom for our limited perceptions and life creation requires that we overcome the fear of the unknown and have faith in the benevolent laws and powers of the universe and in our own ability to deal with whatever might occur.
To be continued.
(From the forthcoming book LOVE IS A CHOICE, by Robert Elias Najemy)