Why many are Scared of Love

fear of love

Why many are Scared of Love

Did you know that most divorces and breakups happen at the beginning of the year? January seeks the most separations of couples. Why is that? Speculations abound but no real reason has been pegged. It could be that people want to have a new life in the New Year. Or perhaps they see Valentine’s Day down the road and run off before it gets there. But this begs the question, why do so many breakups and divorces happen at all? One reason, lots of people are scared of an emotion that should instead empower them, love.

These fears don’t always surface at the beginning of a relationship. They may lay dormant waiting for the right trigger to bring them forth. They all come down to one thing, a fear of intimacy. And even though initially this fear is seen as a protective quality, it ultimately keeps us from the intimacy and closeness we desire most. There are lots of ways to be scared of love. See if any of these describe you or someone you know. First is fear of vulnerability. This usually happens at the beginning of a relationship. Love means letting someone else in. You are suddenly dependent upon someone else for your happiness, not just you. And this fear of vulnerability can often affect or even end a relationship, the fearful partner driving the other away.

Falling in love also brings up old scars from the past. Childhood traumas are often brought forth. Anger, resentment, neglect, rejection and fear can all resurface in conjunction of finding love in one’s life. Love can oppose our old perceptions of ourselves. We may think we’re unlovable or undeserving of love. There are those who sometimes mistake their inner critic for how they actually feel about themselves. They let those negative voices become their opinion of themselves. The inner critic is an amalgam. It is nothing but a collection of negative messages we were exposed to when we were young by our parents and others, or those which our parents felt about themselves which we internalized and made about ourselves. Other negative messages from bullies and other peers may become part of this amalgam. Eventually it gets ingrained in the individual. Falling in love, and being validated by someone who loves you, throws a wrench in that perception. And since our biggest fear is that of the unknown, the person who is loved but doesn’t feel that they deserve it doesn’t know what to do.

Some people fear inevitable pain from the elation of love. That the breakup will hurt just as bad as the love now feels. But how do you know that it won’t work out? Lastly, some people fear that the other person loves them more than they love that person. They’re afraid that this dynamic will never change. Love changes over time and moment to moment. Do not fear love. Let it be a transformative force in your life, not a blast that forces you to crouch but an updraft that makes you soar. For more advice read, Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment & Building Lasting, Loving Relationships by Michelle Skeen, PsyD.

Your Romantic Style

ATTACHMENT-STYLE

Your Romantic Style

Lots of people don’t know their relationship style, but it affects almost every aspect of your romantic relationships from how you select a mate to how you break up. Your romantic style, or style of attachment as it’s called in psychology, can help you understand yourself better and how you relate to another in a relationship. If you come to understand your style of attachment you can see what positive and negative effects it has on your relationships. Initially, our style of attachment is formed in childhood. But it’s an outline. It develops over time. Our attachment style speaks to how we interpret our needs and go about getting them met. There are many different attachment styles. See which one fits you and other people you know.

The first is secure attachment. This type is secure in relationships. They saw their parents as a sanctuary which they could venture out from to explore their world. This type supports a distressed partner and feels connected and secure in their adult relationships. This is an honest relationship with openness and support. There is an equality of power shared in this model. They provide their partners with a true sense of safety and display real acts of love.

The next type is the anxious preoccupied style of attachment. This style feels insecure and constantly seeks validation from their partner. They want their partner to complete or save them. This is the needy type that clings to their significant other. The anxious preoccupied type are often victims of a self-induced vicious circle. Their insecurity leads to clingy behavior that drives their partner away, validating their “See s/he doesn’t really love me” feeling underlying it all.

The next type is dismissive avoidant attachment. These people need emotional distance from their partner. This type wants to appear independent. They may come off as self-absorbed and overly worried about their own comfort. This semi-independence is a mental fixation. But in reality they need to connect and bond just like everyone else. This person puts less importance on the relationship and in fact pushes their significant other away. This person can shut down emotionally if pushed to open up.

The last type is the fearful avoidant attachment style. This person doesn’t want to be too far nor too close to their partner. They try to put their feelings aside but can’t. These people have episodes where they are overcome by their own emotions. They can be moody, mixed up and unpredictable. They believe you need people to have your needs met, but if you let them get too close they’ll hurt you. To learn more about different romantic styles and how they impact relationships, read the book, Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT.

Closing Emotional Distance

emotionaldistance

Closing Emotional Distance

Emotional distance occurs when couples fail to communicate how they feel, what they’re thinking, their values, and what their needs are and how they should be met. Often they then substitute anger for their fear of intimacy or vulnerability. When their partner wishes to probe further they act passive-aggressively, change the subject or even shut down completely. Those who are emotionally distant are afraid that if they do open up and reveal their innermost thoughts, desires and needs, they will be misunderstood or judged harshly by their partner. Another problem may be that their partner isn’t responding to their needs in the right way. The partner for instance may offer advice for a problem instead of listening carefully and offering validation and sympathy, the things that their partner is truly looking for. Some people are scared of intimacy because of parental neglect, abuse, or loss at an early age. They may be uncomfortable with their own feelings and have difficulty communicating them. They may also have trouble dealing with the feelings of others.

In a relationship inhabited by emotional distance, the couple may start to lead their lives such like roommates, living side-by-side but failing to connect on a deeper level. They talk about the chores and routines of the household and other surface talk but fail to pierce a deeper level of intimacy. Over time sexual intimacy may recede. Loneliness, a hollowness or hurt are some emotions that one or both partners may experience. To have their needs met some people in this type of relationship jump into other activities with more gusto such as parenting or their career. They may obsess over their social status, become substance abusers or have affairs. Eventually the couple may split.

The first thing to do to heal emotional distance is to reveal your true self to yourself and your partner. Couple’s therapy could be beneficial in helping to recognize and reverse negative patterns. It could be that one or both people need individual therapy to resolve trust issues. Restoring sexual intimacy means making it a priority and focusing on getting both partner’s needs met, rather than one meeting the others needs at their own expense. Fear and neglect can make us build up walls, but love and commitment can help break them down again. For more advice read, Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship by M. Gary Neuman.

4 Warning Signs That Your Relationship Is in Trouble

trouble

4 Warning Signs That Your Relationship Is in Trouble

Most of the time people enter relationships with a feeling that everything has excellent potential.  They’re not anticipating an end to their love.  The truth is, that’s often the case.  Relationships do end.  Often, warning signs are missed, but they do exist.  John Gottman, Ph.D., is a leading psychologist in the area of marriage and relationships.  He has four warning signs and adjustments that can be made:

  1. Criticism - It’s not the same as complaining, when you’re attacking one particular problem or the behavior of your partner.  You’re actually attacking their character.  A criticism might include, “You are such a slob”.  A complaint, on the other hand, would sound more like, “I’m tired of picking up after you”.   You can’t say anything constructive when a person is criticizing, or, it would be more difficult.  If someone complains, it’s easier to address the concern.  To fix this, make it a point to complain and not criticize.  And, if your partner is guilty of the latter, have a discussion about it and see if they’ll commit to not criticizing.
  2. Contempt - This is really criticism, magnified.  When you’re attacking your partner as a person, it’s demeaning and insulting.  You’re looking down on them, possibly calling them names, mocking them and being sarcastic.  To fix this, increase your tolerance.  Learn to communicate with your partner and appreciate each other.  Couples therapy is often necessary for relationships involving contempt.
  3. Defensiveness - This is when you’re attacked and then attack in defense.  This typically involves playing the victim, ignoring your partner, making excuses and disagreeing.  To fix this, listen to the complaint and try to empathize.  Then, take responsibility, or some of it.  After truly listening and showing compassion, tell your side of the story.
  4. Stonewalling - Checking out of a conversation to protect oneself from being hurt is stonewalling.  A person will stop following the conversation or actually leave.  They may seem apathetic, but are actually overwhelmed.  To fix this, try to discuss the issue together and find out when the person stonewalling is becoming overwhelmed. Make plans to give space if needed and eventually come back to discussing the problem.  Identify these issues early on.  The longer they last, the more it hurts your relationship.  If you’re trying your best to fix things and there’s no cooperation, and situations are repeated, you might try counseling together. Also try reading the book, The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships by John Gottman, Ph.D.

Advice for Dating Over 50

Seniors-Dating

Advice for Dating Over 50

If you are over 50 dating can be a whole different world. Most people are independent at this age, perhaps with adult-age children who are hopefully out of the house by now. These are the divorced empty nesters. They don’t take any guff and know exactly what they are looking for. Today, it’s much easier than in the past because of the internet. But even then sometimes there’s no one that strikes our fancy. A lot of singles in this age group don’t want to be alone but don’t want to feel as though they are settling either. It isn’t easy but a lot of people get in their own way, too. Here is some advice for those dating over 50. First, consider the law of attraction. What you focus on in your life is what you bring into your world. If you are focused on the idea that there are no good men or women left then that is the situation you will dwell in. But if you are secure and happy, entering into each situation in an open-minded and lighthearted way then perhaps the right person will find you. That’s because this newfound positivity will sooner or later attract those who are also secure, open and happy, the exact type most of us would like to date.

Consider how you feel about dating. It often fills 50-somethings with anxiety. Sometimes we just have an unlucky streak. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to put dating aside and later on try again. When you come back to it in a week or two with fresh eyes, take a look at your meeting and selection process. Consider reworking your dating profile. What does it say about you? Who does it attract? Perhaps freshen it up with a new photo, an anecdote or insight and then ask a friend their opinion on it. A lot of people at this stage are afraid. They’ve lost out in one or more serious relationships. They may be bitter or carrying baggage. Perhaps they feel as though they’ve been through the meat grinder and don’t want to do it again. This idea that there is no one of high enough quality is a projection we use to protect ourselves from certain fears about love, while also protecting our status. Here, it isn’t us that have the problem but the available dating pool. Sooner or later those that say these things start to sound like a broken record. It becomes a battle worn, thin piece of armor other minds can easily pierce. Instead, jettison excuses. Deal with whatever interworking makes you feel negative or reticent. Talk it out with someone and work toward a new perspective on your life and your love life, one that’s positive and edifying.

Dating at this age is not easy. We often run in the same circles. Start to break out. Explore new hobbies or old ones you put aside in the days of yesteryear when the demands of kids and career got in the way. Read articles and books about dating at this age. Attend singles events. Try a different website or app for meeting someone new. Pursue interests that are social through Eventbrite, Meetup, a local civic organization or a charity close to your heart. Network with friends and others to see if they know someone who is single that would be a good match. Those who are friends will have other friends who you might have things in common with. Another thing, don’t so easily cast others aside. Some people make their wants and desires in a mate so extensive that they price themselves out of the market. Everyone is imperfect. But judgment has to be set aside for an exploration of who exactly the other person is. A first date is like an initial interview. Often it tells you little of the person before you. Give it until the third date before you say no for sure. Some of the happiest couples weren’t so hot for each other when they first met. It takes time for anxiety to wane, understanding to grow and love to blossom. For more advice for those of the female persuasion pick up a copy of, The Winning Dating Formula For Women Over 50: 7 Steps To Attracting Quality Men by Lisa Copeland.