BOO! Were you frightened? Did I scare you? Did you scream? No, most likely, you are not frightened by goblins or ghosts or “things that go bump in the night.” Your days and nights are not spent worrying which witch will swoop down on you as you leave your home. These are the “fun” fears of Halloween and costume parties or scary movies.
But seriously, what are you afraid of in your relationship?
The fears that aren’t so fun and which we do spend days and nights worrying about are much more profound. They are the fears that we have in our relationships… the fears that can so overshadow the love that they can drive us apart if we let them. What are you afraid of? The list of fears below includes fears that are common in different stages of life and relationships. Some are more prevalent early in a relationship. Others can be real in all phases. Some will keep you in a bad relationship, while others will kill a good one. Maybe you need some marriage help?
- My mate will be unfaithful. This is often a concern in a new relationship. This is particularly true if either or both of you were involved in a previous relationship when you met and began your relationship. If your partner has a history of being unfaithful or has been unfaithful to you, it will take time to trust them. They must prove that they can and will be faithful to you and your relationship. It can be done, and it begins with honest communication about the fear and includes forgiveness.
- If I’m vulnerable, I’ll lose self-protection and control. You may think that opening yourself and your heart to someone else will somehow endanger you. You feel that there will be nothing to protect you from hurt. You fear losing control of yourself and your relationship and that your mate will control you.
- What if this person can’t/won’t meet my needs? The fear that this person can’t meet your needs is the fear that your needs are so great that no one could meet them, or that your partner is incapable of meeting your needs. If you fear that your mate won’t meet your needs, that is more about whether or not they love you enough to sacrifice for you. “What if he/she is a narcissist? What if all of the romance and attention is just until he/she gets me to commit, and then it stops?”
- I know that I will get hurt. You are right. If you love someone, you will be hurt. Your partner will disappoint you and fail to be the perfect mate. Forgiveness is the key to overcoming this hurt and this fear. Forgiveness is an integral part of any healthy relationship.
- He/she will leave me. This is a fear of abandonment and may come from your being abandoned by your parents as a child. It may also be rooted in a previous relationship in which you were left by the person you loved the most. This fear can drive you to be clingy and suffocating. To hold on to this fear is to emotionally hold one to your mate so tightly that they eventually do pull away.
- I’m afraid of having kids. You know that having a child will change everything in your world. You may feel that the world is not a safe place for a child. Maybe you didn’t have good parents; therefore, you have questions about your ability to be a good parent. You are afraid that you might “screw up” another human being’s life.
- What if we lose the “spark?” You’ve seen this happen to other couples. They are so in love, and they can’t seem to keep their hands off of each other. This lasts for a while, and then you see them settle into a routine and treat each other as roommates and not lovers.
- Will we both fully commit to each other? This is an entirely normal fear, especially at the beginning of a relationship. You want someone whom you can love unconditionally and who will love you the same way. That person is not always easy to find. This is often why family and friends will advise you to “take it slow.” This fear can actually help you to weed out the ones who aren’t right for you. However, it can also prevent you from committing to one who is right for you. Once you’re in a relationship, it can be a barrier to intimacy and must be overcome if your relationship is to evolve.
- I’m not good enough for my mate. If you are insecure and don’t love yourself, it will be challenging for your mate to love you. It becomes exhausting for them as they try to love you and engage in a relationship with you. If you don’t love yourself, you will keep pulling back and withholding yourself out of a sense of unworthiness. Thus, you will bring about the very rejection that you fear.
- Fear of being alone. This fear can keep you trapped in an unhealthy and destructive relationship. This fear is responsible for much of the abuse that happens in relationships. It can cause you to tolerate bad behavior and shut down emotionally. Reach out to a counselor, pastor, or other helping professional if you find yourself in such a relationship. Ironically, people who fear being alone find themselves lonely in their current relationship.
- Fear that no one else will want me. This is close to the fear of being alone. It is rooted in self-loathing and self-deprecation. You may feel that you’re not young enough, good looking enough, successful enough, etc. Sticking with “the devil you know” may seem preferable to leaving your current unhealthy relationship.
- The stigma of failure. “I don’t want others to judge me as a failure for leaving my relationship. But even more so, I don’t want to feel like a failure myself.” Such thinking can keep you from moving forward in your life. Self-forgiveness is one of the best tools to use for dealing with the stigma of failure.
- I’ll lose my identity. “If I don’t have a partner, then I won’t know who I am.” If you have lost your sense of self in your relationship, then it is not healthy. You are not healthy. To be healthy and whole, it is essential that you know who you are, with or without a mate.
- My mate won’t be there when I need them. When you lack emotional support, attention, affection, guidance, or understanding as you’re growing up, you probably also anticipate that you will be deprived of these needs in your relationship. You may even sabotage your mate’s efforts to meet those needs because of your fear.
- I’m afraid of the future. This is understandable. We don’t know what the future holds for any of us.
Read WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? – PART 2 for how to deal with relationship anxieties and fears.