Is Fear Motivating Your Romantic Life?

by Dr. Lauren Sierra Thomas

in Dating, Relationships

The Beloved

A few years ago I made a fascinating discovery as a result of a date I had.  I’ve come to call the discovery “the split” and it may be impacting your relationships without your awareness.

Being aware of “the split” can help make sense out of dating or relationship experiences that at first glance seem baffling.  The confusing suddenly becomes clear.  You feel better.

So, let’s get down to it and I’ll share some information that can help you in your dating and love relationships.

The Split In A Nutshell:

By mid-life (or even your 30’s) you long for a love relationship, yet you no longer believe it’s possible. In essence, you no longer believe in romantic love.

Imagine the bind this puts you in.  Or maybe you don’t have to imagine, you may be experiencing it.  The bind is a painful place to be.  If you’re in this bind you know what I’m talking about.

You’ve had enough life experience to know things don’t always turn out the way that you’d hoped and you may be disappointed, perhaps even jaded or bitter.  But, that’s not the end of the story.  If it were, that might actually be easier.

Along with feeling disappointed, you still long for a relationship. You’re pulled in two directions.  You want it, but you don’t really believe it’s possible.  OUCH!

Fear Is The Motivating Force

I’ll explain the date so you can understand the significance of “the split”.   My discovery led me to realize that fear is a powerful motivator in our dating and relationship behavior.

Briefly, I met someone who came on really strong and then completely pulled away. I was fascinated as I watched it unfold.  We had a great date but he mentioned he’d been hurt a couple times in relationship.  For example, his fiance had an affair that ended their relationship.  He basically came out and told me that he had a hard time trusting.  Yet, he was very excited about us and was convinced that I was someone he wanted to be in a relationship with.

A couple days after our date, he began to seem insecure and mentioned I didn’t seem interested in a relationship.  Although I felt I had shown an interest, he decided I wasn’t available to be in relationship and completely withdrewWhat fascinated me was that nothing had changed externally and so I realized an internal process had occurred.   The internal process was fear driven – it is “the split”.

We know what the pain feels like that we’ve experienced in the past and we don’t ever want to feel it again.

I describe the date not to point out anything negative about this person.  He was a good person and had a lot going for him.  Fear can feel paralyzing. I have my own defenses that are fear based, as we all do.

Defense Mechanisms and Personality Styles

You may have heard of “defense mechanisms”.   Defense mechanisms are ways we find to protect ourselves and we aren’t even conscious we’re using them.

In the near future, I’m going to talk about personality styles or types.   Different types (or personality styles)  handle situations  and relationships differently.

For now, I’ll give just one example so you have an idea what I’m talking about:  Some people over-attach very quickly while others have a style of being aloof and don’t allow themselves to get too close.

A person who attaches too quickly experiences anxiety and fear at the thought of separation.  On the other hand, someone who does the come here-go away dance feels fear and anxiety when they experience too much closeness. This person feels a tremendous urge to get away until they regain a sense of control.

Personality styles are fascinating and I’ll give you more information on them soon.  Learning about personality styles can be a great tool for understanding yourself and your loved ones better.

Fear and anxiety are the motivating forces behind the defense mechanisms we use. In the case of my date, he withdrew because he experienced fear and anxiety.

Compassion

Understanding “the split” can give us the foundation for compassion.

Knowing that fear and anxiety are the underlying factors in a lot of dating and relationship behavior allows us to re-frame our perspective, both for our self and others.   Compassion often emerges naturally when we recognize the basis of a lot of dating and love relationship behaviors.

Most people aren’t trying to be a..holes.  We usually don’t have the tools to communicate these feelings effectively. Not only that, we’re often not aware ourselves when we’re caught in these patterns.

Love Takes Courage

You may have heard the saying that love is not for the faint of heart. Love requires tremendous courage.  If your heart has been broken, it’s not easy to open it once again and take the ride.  Love requires that we let go of control and take a risk.

Just today a friend was telling me that when she first was with her beloved she almost ended the relationship and never returned. It wasn’t that she wasn’t smitten.  It was that she was smitten.  For the first time in her life she met her match and she felt out of control. She sensed the vulnerability of her heart.  Happily, she did return and she and her beloved are madly in love and have one of the best relationships I’ve encountered.

But, how many don’t return?

  • Have you ever walked away from love out of fear?
  • Have you had the experience of having love walk out of your life due to fear?
  • Do you experience anxiety or fear when you start feeling close to someone?
  • Do you feel as if you’re being “smothered” when you open yourself to relationship?

What’s coming

Over these next weeks we’re going to be talking a lot about love relationships.  I’m going to ask you to take a look at the stories you tell yourself about the opposite sex (or same sex if you’re in same sex relationships) and how that impacts what you experience in your relationships.

I’ll be passing along tools to love yourself more and to help you in your love relationships.

Restore Your Belief In Love

The intent of this blog (and my programs) is to restore your belief in love. I believe with all my heart in the process of restoring your belief in love because I’ve learned tools to help me restore my belief in love.  I know it can be done.

Restoring your belief in love is a process, a journey.  It is about change from the inside out and self-empowerment.

The journey is an exciting one and not nearly as difficult as you may imagine.

In the meantime, be well, and may you experience the best relationships ever.

Photo Courtesy of Linda Yvonne

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