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.

Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

Sad-Woman

Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

There are those relationships that you are relieved are over, even if it took a year to finally get rid of them. Then there are those that rip a hole in your chest and mash your heart into guacamole. Nothing is more painful. A recent study using brain imaging had participants who had recently broken up with someone look at a picture of their ex while hooked up to an FMRI. They found that the parts of the brain that lit up fit the pattern of enduring physical pain. So a breakup literally hurts. Trouble is, when we endure physical pain it goes away relatively quickly. Depending upon the relationship, you and the circumstances, you could endure the pain of heartbreak for weeks, even months. One reason that heartache lingers so is that people fall into certain psychological habits that inhibit healing rather than lessening the pain. Unfortunately, feelings of anger, sadness, rejection and loneliness can be compounded by impulses that feel perfectly natural to indulge. We often consider negative habits we have in our diet, when we exercise, sleep and other physical aspects. But we avoid or disregard poor mental habits that can shackle us to anguish rather than liberating our hearts from pain. Here are some bad mental habits to avoid after a breakup.

A lot of us sub-vocalize negative thoughts or feelings. Inside our head we repeat to ourselves our inadequacies, play over and over mistakes we made, hurtful names or phrases we or our former lover uttered and more. This constant rerunning of negative thoughts may be particularly poignant after feeling rejected or if the relationship ended through some fault of our own. When the ego is bruised and one’s self-esteem has taken a blow, such self-talk will make things worse. Instead, catch yourself when you get into this pattern and replace negative phrases for positive ones. Show yourself some compassion. Think of yourself as a friend trying to get someone through this. What would you do? What would you say? How can you put things in perspective? Brooding over mistakes you’ve made can lead to the same result. Contemplating them and learning from them in an emotionally unattached manner is one thing. But dwelling and obsessing over them is like tearing out your stitches after heart surgery. Isolate those instances where you blundered, learn from them and move on, or else you will be hindering instead of facilitating your own emotional recovery.

Don’t throw yourself into dating if your heart is still aching and you are pining away for your former love. But if you just feel too vulnerable or just scared, you may be missing an opportunity to move healing along, and a way to repair your ego and boost your self-esteem. A couple of months without dating is okay. Six months to a year is a little obsessive. Some people even benefit from a rebound relationship, while others don’t. Find what’s right for you but don’t be too cautious with your heart or you may lose out on a chance at finding love or rebuilding your self-image. Some people cut off everyone, stop taking part in activities they enjoy and wallow in self-pity. Instead, connect and reconnect with hobbies, friends, family members and more. Sure, the first few days you may want to sit on the couch and watch comedies, polish off a crate of sinful snacks and curse the happy couples of the world. But afterward, isolation and keeping yourself from the things you love will only make it worse. Lastly, remember the point is to get over the person and move on with your life. Don’t keep them in your newsfeed on your social media pages. Get rid of all the mementos or put them in a box in the closet or the trash. The fewer reminders you have around the quicker your recovery will be. For more on embracing positive mental habits and avoiding negative ones after heartache read, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts by Guy Winch, Ph.D.

Signs He’s Not over His Ex

ex

Signs He’s Not over His Ex

Guys are usually pretty easy to read. The trouble comes when we are in denial about a relationship. Or when we’re so caught up in how it makes us feel we don’t take a good, hard look at who this is all pointed toward. There are some clear signs when a guy isn’t over his ex. Lots of girls choose not to notice it. Others keep dismissing these or other bad behaviors. It comes from a low self-esteem, needing validation or being so wrapped up in the feelings of love that we forget ourselves. But it’s that intuition you really need to listen to. Intuition is other parts of your brain, speaking from experience telling you that something is not right here. Listen to that inner voice and ask your friends what they seriously think should things progress and they get to meet him. Take things to heart and understand what they mean from his point of view. First, consider how he broke up with his ex. Was there closure there? Or did he feel like things were left unsettled? If he has told you all about her, how much does he talk about her? If you have spent hours listening to things about her or their relationship he clearly isn’t over her.

What kinds of things does he say about her? If he still compliments her for certain things, or talks about what he brought to the relationship, he may just have a hard time letting things go. If he’s over complimenting her than he probably wants to get back with her. Then there are those guys who drone on and on about what a heartless monster his ex was. He is clearly jaded by the whole thing. But the fact that he can’t stop focusing means two things. One, he’s not focusing on you as he should. Number two is that he must have really loved her, if she hurt him so badly. That said, how long ago was this relationship? If it wasn’t long ago or he hasn’t dated since, you might be the rebound. How does that make you feel? If you are okay with that then simply ask him to tone it down about his ex. But if it drives you crazy and you don’t think you are getting the attention you deserve, why not cut your ties and sail on? You aren’t getting what you want out of this relationship. And who wants to hear some guy drone on about his ex all the time? If his ex broke it off or if she cheated on him, you should turn around and walk the other way. If she left him he may still be pining for her. You are just a way to make him feel better. The same is true if she cheated on him, plus he may have trust issues due to this. It’s better to let this one go. For more advice on this topic read, Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide if He’s Right for You by Christie Hartman.

Can you die of a Broken Heart?

broken

Can you die of a Broken Heart?

Everyone has suffered a broken heart, whether it was a breakup or the one that got away. Movies and songs have been written about it. And every once in a while you hear of the elderly couple that died not long apart from one another, the longer surviving member is said to have died from heartbreak. But can you really die of a broken heart? The condition is called cardiomyopathy and it mimics the same signs as a heart attack. Cardiologist at Loyola University Health System Dr. Binh An P. Phan had firsthand experience of patients suffering from this condition. “A lot of these patients would come in with chest pains and difficulty breathing into the emergency room. We found out that they actually were not having a heart attack, but their hearts were weak for some reason. We found out that it was related to a very emotional experience that they were having that immediately preceded the episode.” Broken heart syndrome as it’s commonly called is when a deep emotional pain such as the loss of a loved one actually weakens the muscles of the heart. “After the emotional experience passed and we followed up on them after a few weeks, their heart function returned to normal. We still don’t know exactly the mechanism as to how a stressful situation can trigger a weak heart,” Dr. Phan said.

One reason may be the elevation of adrenaline and other stress related hormones in the system medical experts posit. These rush into the heart during this time of peak stress and the arteries narrow restricting blood flow to the heart. Assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Dr. Ilan Wittstein points out that though the experience feels like a heart attack, there are important distinctions.  “With a heart attack, there is permanent damage done to heart muscle. Some of the heart muscle dies when blood can’t get to it, and once that tissue is dead, it’s never going to be alive again. With broken heart syndrome, patients come in with heart muscles that look extremely weak. They’re not pumping blood well at all, but the cells of the heart are still quite alive. The heart muscle over the course of a few days to a couple of weeks usually completely recovers.” 10,000 out of one million cases occur in the U.S. per year according to Dr. Wittstein. But no one knows how many people actually die from this condition. For those who have been affected, the chance of experiencing it again is 10%. 90% of all cases of broken heart syndrome are post-menopausal women. Dr. Wittstein elaborated, saying, “Estrogen seems to do a lot of important things for the heart, including improve how the blood flows to the heart and how the heart may be protected against stress hormones. As women age, and as their estrogen levels come down, they now don’t have that same protective mechanism that they had when they were younger.” So can you die of a broken heart? Said Dr. Wittstein, “…the answer is absolutely yes.” For advice on recovering from heart break, read How to Heal a Broken Heart in 30 Days by Howard Bronson and Mike Riley.

The Kind of Relationship that drives you Crazy

highway

Are you stuck in a one-sided relationship? You know, the kind of relationship that drives you crazy all the time? This is the type where one person is always beating down or dominating the other. But if they are manipulative, they do it in such a way that makes you wonder and second guess whether or not your original summation was true. Soon your head is spinning out of control. You’re angry and upset and you know your partner is at the root of the problem. But you can’t exactly follow back the how or why. And even if you can, it kind of sounds ridiculous. You feel resentment and shame all at the same time. Sometimes they even project their own insecurities or misplaced anger at you. So how can you tell if you really are in a one-sided relationship or not? There are signs. First, you are often confused or second-guessing yourself whether or not your feelings are true or if you are just overreacting. Does your partner show poor behavior in social situations, forcing you to make excuses to friends or even family? Do they tell you when they’ve made a mistake that you are overreacting or that it’s no big deal? If many of these are part and parcel of what you are experiencing, you are in a one-sided relationship. If when the two of you communicate your anger never seems to subside, this is a definite sign.

If you are spending all of your time to please your partner and try to fix the relationship, chances are you are in a one-sided relationship. If you are in this type of relationship, it’s time to sit down and do some serious thinking. What has your love life been like before this point? What was the situation with your parents or earliest caregivers like? If one or both of your parents were inaccessible or undervalued you, you may be looking for the same characteristics in your adult romantic partner. We often select mates subconsciously to help heal psychological wounds we acquired from our parents when we were children. But selecting this type of mate will never lead to happiness, only exhaustion and heartache. It can feel so right when you find someone that has that certain something that draws you in. But these might be the same qualities that drive you crazy later on. When dating someone or getting close, take a good hard look at the situation and consider why you like this person. Do they possess the right qualities for a good, healthy, long term relationship or are you fulfilling old destructive patterns of the past? The first step and the final step all belong to you. First, find a way to accept and love yourself for who you are. Come to see that self-love is the most important thing. Next, understand that you can’t spend your time with someone who treats you this way. Consciously pursue the right lover, one you are attracted to but will treat you right. Stay on the right path. Get rid of people who don’t treat you right and never look back. For more on this topic, look for the book Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy–Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relationships by Jill P. Weber.