Fear inevitably comes up when we enter relationship. In one of my videos I talk about what 'the wave' of attraction and love that ebbs and flows as we start to feel more vulnerable around a new partner. Because many of us are accustomed staying comfortable and not feeling our emotions, fear can morph into all kinds of modalities and stories so it becomes almost unrecognisable as fear.
I have personally experienced all of these types of fear at different times, but in the past I wasn't aware of it being fear. So instead of learning from it, the fear continued to expand and seep into all areas of my life, causing conflict in my relationships and preventing me from opening up in vulnerability to my partner
In my experience, there are four ways fear tends to come up in relationships (and life more broadly).
Perfectionism can show up as fear of not feeling 'ready' for a relationship, or not wanting to try anything new with a partner because you need to 'do more research'. Which is essentially another way of saying, 'I'm not perfect yet'. This continues to plague my relationships and manifests as showcasing those qualities I was praised for, while hiding the ones I was not. I've heard this described by as personifying the 'star' role, where we hide behind our intelligence, career or achievements instead of showing our partner how we feel (our vulnerabilities).
The interesting part about this type of fear is that it feels completely rational, and not like fear at all.
We can really believe that this is who we are - until we get close enough to someone to become triggered by all the parts we deny about ourselves. Or, we meet someone who intimidates us with their prensence and ability to see through our bulls**t and run for the hills This is what many people refer to as the end of the 'honeymoon' period because we start to take off our rose coloured glasses and really seethe other person (whom evidently is a reflection of us).
CAVEAT: Perfectionism masquerading as fear is not the same thing as actually 'not being ready' or 'not wanting' a relationship. If you are not sure which one is true for you, try the practice included at the end of this article to help you discover which one it is.
Picking fights with your partner. Cheating. Lying, Doing things you know they hate. Giving up on the relationship, or not putting in effort to making it work. In the past I would create situations that would cause an argument and try to 'win'. But there is never a winner and loser in an argument, in the end you both inevitably lose. I later realised that this was my way of avoiding my fear of ending the relationship. If they ended it first, or it came it a demise naturally, I wouldn't have to have the hard conversation (i.e. where my fear was).
This is a tendency to revert to the negative, rather than the positive in most situations. While this type of fear can take multiple masks, its ultimately linked to a fear of being not good enough, whether it be for our partner, someone we are dating or a dream we have.
This can commonly manifest as thinking we will never 'find' the partner or relationship we want, or losing hope that our relationship will be mended or 'go back to the way it was'.
Because pessimism is so closely linked to our self esteem and how we see our self, it is also one of the most difficult types of fears to overcome. Particularly if you haven't had a lot of 'luck' in relationships, pessimism can be an easy trap to fall into.
If you have ever found yourself putting other people or circumstances higher than your own needs in relationships, there is probably a little Martyr in you or what I like to call 'I can't leave them because they need me' argument.
This fear is very much praised and rewarded by our culture. You just have to think of the selfless mother archetype, the philanthropist, or historical figures who put it all on the line for the betterment of others.
This can look like: staying in a relationship that doesn't 'fit' because its comfortable (and you are scared of the unknown), or 'I can't tell my friend how I really feel because it will hurt her feelings'. So instead I'll stay silent, but talk about her behind her back.
When I realised fear was underlying this assumed ‘selflessness’, I was baffled because it really doesn't feel like fear. I had made up such a strong story about why I didn't deserve something better, that staying in the comfortable-yet-not-quite-right relationship felt like selfless thing to do.
As a Martyr, you are essentially choosing to suffer instead of face your fear head on. Instead of calling out our friend, or breaking up with our partner, we stay out of fear of discomfort.
When this type of fear comes up, know that if it is in your truth, then it is also in their truth. By not saying what you need to say, you are denying the other person a chance to own their truth. By staying in a relationship that doesn't serve you, you are also denying the other person a chance to be in a relationship that really serves them.
Remember that courage is not the absence of fear, but taking action in the face of fear. Fear comes up because we are uncomfortable.
And growth only happens when we feel discomfort and choose to consciously move through it anyway.
So what can you do when fear comes up around relationships?
When fear starts to come up in relationships, it can be for two reasons - either, the relationship is moving to a deeper level and you are starting to feel vulnerable.
Place your hand on your solar plexus (between your heart and your stomach) and breathe. Feel however the fear is manifesting - jealousy, anger, grief, loneliness. Whatever emotions come up, keep feeling the fear and thanking it for showing you where you are growing.
If you liked this and want to know more, grab your copy of my Conscious Dating and Relationships Guide, full of content and tips to start tuning into your body, understand who you are attracted to and why, and start forging a deeper connection with yourself, and others in your life.
For women in Perth, I am running a 6 week course on demystifying our beliefs about love and relationships where I will be guiding you through embodiment practices and intuitive techniques to come to a deeper understanding of who you are, and what you most desire in your relationships and your life. Click here to find out more about the course, or here to check out some other resources I have created for you.