This post was originally published on September 6, 2012.
Sometimes you might feel like you’re desperate to be in a relationship…until the possibility is right in front of you. (It’s like when you agree to go skydiving with a friend — then you see them jump out of the plane and you think, “No way am I doing that! Are you crazy?”) When trying to find love, often fear is the one, huge thing standing in the way. But you learned when you were three — with the whole “monsters under the bed” thing — that some fears are imaginary. Here are 12 ways fear interferes with love, and why you should kick it to the curb (and say yes to that relationship).
You’re afraid of heartbreak.
Let’s get this one out of the way right off the bat. Everyone is afraid of getting hurt. (Except for several of the villains in The Care Bears, I suppose. Those cold-hearted a-holes.) Doesn’t that make you feel better? If life were one big bumper car game, and we were all afraid of getting hurt, we would be a little more gentle with each other, wouldn’t we be? So let’s just all agree to be more honest with each other about our feelings, and more kind to one another in our relationships, and hope that some asshole doesn’t break the rules and ram us from out of nowhere, sending us to the chiropractor. But if you are afraid to enter a relationship because you are afraid of getting hurt, you are both a cliche and destined to go nowhere. (And as Dr. Phil would say, “how’s that working out for you?”)
You’re afraid to not be single anymore.
Being single is awesome. But unless you have very, very strong convictions to be single for the rest of your life (hey there, my nuns sisters!), you are going to have to change sometime. You might like being single now. But ask yourself: do you want to be alone for the rest of your life? Picture yourself living alone in 40 years. Are you okay with that? The answer to that question can be yes. But if you are unsure, and there is someone in your life who you are interested in exploring a relationship with, and they are standing there with their arms open to you, and they are willing to help you out of your comfort zone into a new zone of possible relationship awesomeness, then for God’s sake, let them.
You’re afraid to let someone get to know you.
If you haven’t been in a lot of relationships, it might seem strange to let someone get to know you — to see you disheveled in the morning, to see you at your best and worst, to truly let someone into your life. You might think the only reason you seem desirable to anyone is because they don’t know you that well — because you have managed to put the best version of yourself on display — something you can’t necessarily do when you throw yourself into a honest relationship. But remember that you can’t hide forever and nobody is perfect. Your new boyfriend/girlfriend is not perfect, either. We’ve all received the memo, and we are all okay with it.
You’re afraid that love doesn’t work.
Maybe you never saw successful couples when you were young, or maybe your parents got along so well you thought, “No way will I get that lucky!” Either way, you can’t give up. Love never works perfectly all the time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the best thing you will ever experience — the bad and the good makes that so.
You’re afraid you’re too busy.
If you are afraid to enter a relationship because you don’t think you have time, there is a much bigger problem, here, and it has nothing to do with relationships. You are hiding behind your work/hobby/Law & Order obsession! What are you afraid of? If your job is standing in the way of the possibility of you feeling happy and fulfilled in a relationship and in love, what else will it stand in the way of? Your sanity? Your health? Your passion for metallurgy?
You’re afraid you won’t find this one exact person who might not exist or be right for you anyway.
It is really good to have high standards. But! Sometimes we look for someone in particular for weird reasons. Say, you thought you would be with a creative person, or you assumed you were strictly partial to blondes, or you had in your mind that you were only attracted to Kal Penn-lookalikes after seeing The Namesake in 2007. (His lips: I die.) Tear that all away. You will be glad you did.
You’re afraid of a faux niggle.
I’m not saying to ignore your relationship niggles. I’m saying you should explore them really, really closely. Are they leading to actual, legitimate reasons for concern? Say the girl you have been seeing always wears culottes. That is weird. And it drives you crazy and makes you uncomfortable and makes you think “ehh I don’t… aaaa… she… culottes! Always? I can’t take her anywhere!” But something like that doesn’t matter. Embrace this girl and her culottes.
You’re afraid of leaving your family.
My mom used to yell at me because I was kind of depending on her to fill some of my boyfriend requirements, like being there for me, caring for me when I was sick/stressed/sad, talking to me on the phone, sending me funny pictures of cats, etc. I also never thought I would find a guy my family approved of, so I sort of let being in a relationship become, like, my 40th priority. I know that people do this with their parents and siblings. I know a few people who have had terrible tragedies in their families and felt this invisible pull to defend and dedicate themselves completely to their families until the end of time. I don’t know what that is like and I don’t want to pretend to, but I do know this: your family members are going to go out and finding relationships for themselves, or they already have. You deserve that, too. Your family will still be there for you, and they will be happy for you. (I wish someone would have pounded this into my brain years ago.)
You’re afraid long distance can’t work.
If you really want to be in that relationship, you will make it work because you won’t see any other option. Long distance relationships are a shit-ton of work. But don’t make that an excuse for breaking it off if you think it can succeed and make you happy, because it might even make your relationship better.
You’re afraid to change.
Yeah, being in a relationship means you’re going to have to stop doing certain things (like spending every single night watching Curb Your Enthusiasm reruns eating dinner in your underwear talking to your grandma on the phone — trust me, I know) but you should probably stop doing that stuff anyway. You might have to stop smoking or spending $80 on cocktails every night at that new hotel bar or traveling alone and not telling anyone where you are going, but you will feel good about it later. (Still call your grandmother, though. Fit it in, somewhere!)
You’re afraid to succeed.
More of us are relationship masochists than we like to admit. Sometimes it feels good to fight and break up and cry and get angry. We are all really f*cked up people who love pain. But if you don’t want to start a relationship (or you want to leave one) because you think it’s going too well and you don’t know how to handle it, let me tell you this: you can handle it and you deserve it and JUST TRY IT. Everything is going to be okay. And if it’s not, you can cross that bridge when you come to it.
You’re afraid that the person will be opposed to your _(fill in the blank)_ lifestyle.
Well, yeah, they might be. But you never know. When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME. (If this is the first time you are hearing that, you’re welcome.) Communication is very important in all relationships, obviously. You might just have found your perfect match.