Published on 12/11/2021
Ten Fears that Ruin Relationships
Loving someone is risky business, so it's natural that fear is present in relationships. But when fear operates in our life in a way that hurts us or hurts others—through aggression or withdrawal—it becomes a problem. Recognizing these fears and how they affect our life can help us make the necessary changes to get the love we want.
1. Fear of losing freedom. Tied down, trapped, cornered, stuck—this "claustrophobia" points to mistaken beliefs about what relationships are supposed to be. The ability to say No in a loving and respectful way, and to set clear and fair boundaries, is an essential ingredient of a healthy relationship.
2. Fear of conflict. Let's face it—love can be messy. But it doesn't have to be destructive. Constructive communication skills can be learned. When handled with caring and respectful communication, conflicts can become vital building blocks of deeper trust and intimacy.
3. Fear of change. Change means work, discomfort and uncertainty. But oh, the rewards of growth and depth and renewal! Try being curious about the changes in you, your partner and your relationship. Apply this to your children, parents, siblings, and other people you care about!
4. Fear of giving up or losing control. We don't have to surrender personal power in a healthy relationship. In fact, in a healthy relationship both partners feel equal while each maintains their uniqueness. If it is a choice between being in control and experiencing true love, which will you choose?
5. Fear of pain. It is not love that creates pain, but our attachments and expectations about what love and relationships, and the behavior of those we love, are supposed to look like. Ultimately, we must decide whether we trust fear or trust love—which of those are we going to "feed?"
6. Fear of being "found out." When we hide our true self from those we love, we're usually afraid that our true self is unlovable. The fear of being found out is the fear of being fully known. When we accept that no one is "perfect," we can open to the marvelous adventure of being deeply known by another and truly getting to know our beloved.
7. Fear of losing self. Often this comes from watching others (parent, friend, relative) suppress their individuality in relationship. The generous giving of oneself—our time, attention, caring and skills—is vital to the success of a relationship, but equally important is to be able to receive from your loved one what they wish to give you. Giving up your needs for your partner is not a loving act, for it means there is less of you present in the relationship.
8. Fear of not being enough. When we fear our own inadequacy, we often expect perfection in our partners. So we use this expectation as a defense against those feelings of inadequacy. We have the choice of taking the risk to love and be loved, or be alone, feeling isolated, with our story of inadequacy. Try changing that story to the true one: that you are a unique, magnificent and lovable being.
9. Fear of rejection. To avoid being rejected, we may push other people away, testing their love, or abandoning them before we ourselves are abandoned—and thereby making our beliefs a reality. Or to avoid being rejected, we may become pleasers, taking our authentic needs and desires out of the equation. Either way, we are not fully committed to being authentically present in the relationship.
10. Fear of dependency. Some people worry about losing the ability to take care of themselves, and others worry about being responsible for their loved one. Neither option creates a fulfilling relationship. To avoid those situations and create a healthy interdependency, stay aware of the boundaries between you and your loved one, and remember that, while you are supportive of each other, you are each responsible for your own feelings and well-being.
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)
There are conflicts in interpersonal relationships because everyone is used to seeing things with their own eyes and instinctively protecting themselves. Letting go of fear is easier said than done.
Thank God that in the wilds of Bethlehem one night more than two thousand years ago, an angel said to the shepherds, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)
Author's content used under license, © Claire Communications
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Winnis Chiang, LMFT and founder of ParentingABC.com, is passionate about helping Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking parents to get along with, enjoy, and positively influence their American born children.