Having a fear of love can be a difficult thing to overcome. Whether you have been hurt in the past by a bad relationship or simply have a fear of the unknown, fearing love and intimacy can be hard to cope with. There are self-reflection techniques and concrete steps you can take to help end your fear of love.
Breaking Down Defenses
Figure out when your fear began
Determine when and why you initially became afraid of love. Was it after a bad break up? Was your last partner too clingy or not affectionate enough? Pinpointing the timeframe in which you became disillusioned about love is important to help you combat your fears.
Sometimes our fears aren't born out of our own mistakes, but those we saw in others. For example, if your parents went through a tough divorce or you had difficult relationship with loved ones during your childhood, you might struggle with fear of love or commitment.
Identify specific fears
When we say we’re afraid of love, often the actual love itself is not the source of worry. Usually we mean that we’re worried about some negative outcomes that are possible if we allow ourselves to love.
For example, we might say we fear love when we actually fear commitment or fear losing our freedom. This kind of self-reflection can be tough. Try talking through your worries with a trusted friend or family member and asking their advice. Or, if you feel more comfortable, try journaling your thoughts to see what is behind your fear of love.
Avoid the "what if" game
Asking yourself "what if" questions can send you down a rabbit hole of anxiety and fear, and this does nothing to help ease your fear of love. These rhetorical questions usually focus on the negative rather than the positive. Try re-framing these questions in a more productive way.
Sometimes we find ourselves anxiously asking questions such as "What if I get rejected?" or "What if I get hurt again?" If you find yourself asking these worst-case scenario questions, try following through and answering them. For example, you might tell yourself that if you get hurt again, you’ll learn from that relationship and know what not to do the next time. If you put yourself out there and get rejected, then it will hurt for a while and you will eventually heal from it.
You might also try to put a positive spin on the questions. For instance, ask yourself what will happen if next time you do not get rejected. Your answer might be that you’d be in a loving relationship with someone you love to spend time with. This can help quiet the negative "what if" game in your head.
Seek out a partner who values what you do in a relationship
If you’re afraid of love, then it makes sense to look for love in someone who values the things you do. If your real problem with love is that you think falling in love means losing your freedom, then you need to find someone who values his or her own freedom and won’t impose on yours. If it’s commitment that worries you, then you might try testing the waters with someone who is just looking for someone to go on dates with and see where the relationship goes from there.
It’s important to note that finding this person might take some time. Don’t set time limits or expectations on finding this person. If you fear love, then you must let it come to you naturally. Forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do won’t help you fix your fear and is unfair to the other person.
Ask yourself if it’s actually love that worries you so much. Many times we can project stressors from other areas of life onto our love life. For example, if you are overextended or failing at a project at school or work, then perhaps you don’t truly fear love and commitment, but instead you fear failing at something. Honestly examine why you think you fear love and see if it’s truly love that scares you or if it might be a stressor coming from somewhere else in your life.
Ask yourself how love might benefit you
Love is something that brings joy, happiness, and security. It’s a positive aspect of life to which we attach a lot of baggage, so it’s often helpful to ask yourself how love could benefit you in the abstract.
Try writing down all the ways that falling in love could be a positive for you, such as companionship, physical intimacy, spiritual health, and so on. Then evaluate your list against your fears. Think of this exercise as a one-sided "pros and cons" list. If you are honest with yourself, you will likely find that the positive side of your list far outweighs the negatives.
Remain true to yourself
Do not change yourself to accommodate a new potential relationship. If you are still fearful of love and the relationship feels forced, it will not succeed, and you’ll be back to where you started feeling like love is a negative, elusive thing. Admit to yourself that you’re still working on your fears and that soon you will be able to test the waters with a new relationship.
Make sure that you’re actually trying to work on overcoming your fears. It can be easy to use any excuse to avoid both love and working on your fear of love. If you are actively not dating or putting yourself out there for the purpose of working on your anxieties, that is different than practicing avoidance behaviors that reinforce fears.
If you’ve gotten in over your head with a new relationship, sit down with your partner and explain your fears. Tell them you have issues with love, and that although it might sound cliche, it’s not them but the idea of love that’s worrying you. Being honest, even if what you’re saying isn’t what they want they want to hear, shows that you respect and value them even if your relationship might not continue.
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