Most of us bring some baggage to relationships. A lot of freakouts, arguments, suspicions, and reactions stem from secret fears. But if we took the time to recognize these fears before acting on them, we'd end up with stronger, healthier relationships. Here are five relationship fears everyone has, and what to do about them:
1. Fear of abandonment
People with this fear tend to act clingy, start arguments to test the relationship, get involved with unavailable people, and avoid relationships entirely so they can't be abandoned.
2. Fear of getting hurt
If you grew up in an environment where you couldn't trust those around you, didn't feel safe, or were abused, then you probably have a fear of getting hurt. People with this fear often feel like the victim in relationships, and they also feel as though they've been taken advantage of. People with this fear are hypervigilant, suspect ulterior motives when things are going well, act accommodating, and avoid sharing their vulnerabilities.
3. Fear of being let down
When you lack emotional support, attention, affection, and guidance as you're growing up, you'll probably anticipate emotional deprivation in your adult life. People with this fear tend to become angry and demanding when they don't get what they need, pursue people who are unemotional, aren't vulnerable with others, and resent others if they're getting love and affection.
4. Fear of not being good enough
Lots of people struggle with feeling unworthy or unlovable. You might present a false version of yourself because you are afraid to show others the real you. People with this fear tend to pursue critical people, criticize others, compare themselves to others, hide their true feelings, and have challenges accepting criticism.
5. Fear of being a failure
This fear stems from the belief that failure is inevitable or that you don't measure up to your peers because you aren't as talented or successful. People with this fear tend to minimize their accomplishments, judge and criticize others, hide their true selves, and allow others to criticize them.
Overcome your relationship fears once and for all
The first step toward change is identifying and bringing awareness to the situations that trigger your fears. Then you should learn to tolerate distressing emotions that cause you to view the present through a distorted lens. Tolerate these emotions by being mindful of them and your current situation.
When you find yourself in the moment being triggered, don't react right away. Allow the emotions to pass until you feel calm. This will enable you to respond in a way that is helpful to your current relationship. If you feel as though your fears are negatively impacting your relationship, it might be time to seek out help from a skilled psychotherapist.
- "How to Figure Out if Your Relationship Fears are Rational or Irrational," Bustle, March 28, 2017.
- "The 5 Most Common Relationship Fears (and What to Do About Them), Glamour, August 20, 2015.