Most of us have fears and anxieties. Some aren’t rational, like my fear of falling into a pit of snakes, and some are rational. Growing up and becoming an adult comes with an insane amount of new fears. I have this anxious fear that I’ll wake up one day to my bank account wiped clean and unable to pay my rent. Outside of finances, relationships are a big originator of fear for many of us. With some healthy communication habits, being intentional, vulnerability, and patience, you can use these tips to overcome common relationship fears.
Intimacy doesn’t just mean physical closeness. It is not limited to sex. Intimacy can also mean connecting to another person or partner through intellect, emotions, and shared interests. A fear of intimacy shows up as putting up walls within your relationship. Getting to know someone and growing closer to them can lead to hesitation and anxiety centered around self-esteem or acceptance from others.
Overcoming Fear of Intimacy
Intimacy looks different in every relationship. What you need is important but learning what your partner needs is just as important. Working through your fear of intimacy is hard, but talking to your partner about what makes you and them feel safe and loved helps overcome the fear. Communication is key in relationships. A great place to start is learning each other’s love languages so you can make your partner feel loved in the way they understand and vice versa.
Inadequacy is like imposter syndrome but in a relationship. The fear of not being enough or worthy of love from someone else cripples us. The inner child in us wants to be held or fear your partner leaving and never returning. Those inner child wounds and trauma are hard to shake, so be patient with yourself and your partner.
Overcoming Fear of Inadequacy
Feelings of inadequacy are usually reactions to negative self-talk. It’s a spiraling effect that is easier to slip into than you might think. Healthy communication habits, intimacy, vulnerability, and responding instead of reacting are simple ways to ensure you build a foundation to get over your fear. So instead of dragging yourself down with negative self-talk when talking to your partner, use more open-ended language.
- Switch your “buts’ for “and.”
- Add “yet” to things you haven’t accomplished to turn them into goals instead of viewing them as shortcomings or flaws.
- Remind yourself that perfect relationships don’t exist.
- Hype yourself up in the mirror every once in a while. It can feel awkward initially, but positive self-talk is the best replacement for negative self-talk.
Fear of abandonment is your classic “Dad went to go buy milk and never came back” trauma. That’s not to make light of it, but it does give a pretty clear picture, right? Fear of abandonment leads us to move out of fear for things that haven’t happened. It’s a preemptive defensive move. You can’t get hurt if you never let anyone get close. Fear of abandonment is linked to our attachment styles. Knowing your attachment style and your partner’s opens up a conversation you can have about each other’s vulnerabilities. It is better to know and be prepared to deal with each other’s vulnerabilities rather than react to them blindly.
Overcoming Fear of Abandonment
Working on yourself and your attachment style takes self-examination and sometimes some therapy. It’s easy to externalize the problems in your relationships, which is a big red flag, I might add. Still, it’s an easy slope to slide down if you aren’t paying attention. But it can come down to simply changing your perspective. Instead of thinking about how you always find the wrong people to date, change your perspective and maybe ask yourself why you are drawn to that kind of person. Change your perspective. Easier said than done.
Rejection blows. No one enjoys rejection, and that fear of rejection and failure can leave you paralyzed. It can get so bad that the fear prevents you from living your life. Rejection is usually connected to other fears like inadequacy and abandonment. We fear we won’t be accepted or good enough, so we put up walls and push people away. It’s another case of reacting to fears and being defensive with others instead of being vulnerable and honest with them.
Overcoming Fear of Rejection
“Fear is the mind-killer.” You’ll find this phrase written all over Frank Herbert’s Dune. I have it tattooed on my forearm as a constant reminder not to let fear or rejection dictate how I live my life. The first step is to acknowledge your fear. The second is to figure out the root cause of your fear. After you acknowledge and identify your fear, communicate your fears with your partner or therapist (or both). When you feel yourself spiraling out in fear, take a few deep breaths and try to calm yourself before reacting defensively.