It’s fear that makes love difficult.
It’s fear that makes life difficult as well.
Fear is a survival mechanism which does serve a purpose. Being afraid of that stranger while walking down an empty street at night can lead to surviving the night if you are aware and ready for something bad to happen. Being afraid of someone who comes on strong that you haven’t gotten to know can be a wise move.
The problem is when fear comes into the picture and it isn’t a survival situation.
Fear can be a motivator to put things into motion that need to be moving, like being afraid of being laid off and looking for another job or being afraid to move on from an abusive relationship.
If fear comes into a relationship, it can magnify the little molehills that regularly occur in a relationship into Mount Everest. If you’re afraid of your significant other getting upset (and they aren’t truly an abusive jerk), then fear isn’t serving you anymore.
Relationships normally aren’t a life or death struggle. They aren’t a fight or flight response situation either. If fear raises its head in such a situation, a normal argument or disagreement turns into a Lifetime movie. It’s almost as if the TV producers that run your life behind the scenes have played up everything about the disagreement until it becomes as dramatic as they can milk it. Hell, sometimes it feels like all it needs is a soundtrack to further amp up your emotions.
Disagreements and arguments unfortunately sometimes are the only way that both sides can be heard about what’s important to each other in a relationship—both friendship and romantic.
How many times have you withheld something about yourself or not let yourself be truly who you are because you are afraid to upset your partner or friend?
I’ve heard a number of people tell me they are afraid to bring up a concern to their significant other because they don’t want to upset them.
Good communication is what makes any type of relationship work. If you speak your mind about something that truly matters to you and your partner dismisses it, then there might be a problem.
If they continue to dismiss your concerns or requests about how they treat you, how they act around you, what things they say in public or private, or just mundane things, then something does need to be addressed on a serious note.
Fear can run screw things up in being afraid to talk about something or being afraid to share yourself.
Again, fear brings a funhouse mirror to relationships and distorts what’s put in front of it. A tall person might look short and squat and rather monstrous, much like a normal problem that couples deal with on a daily basis might seem like a battle in the ancient Roman coliseum where you are both locked in life-or-death gladiatorial combat.
So, how does fear affect us so? Fear tends to appear when we think about the what-ifs. Many times, fear is because we’re looking into the future and worrying about what might happen. Many times it’s also influenced by situations we’ve had in the past where someone hurt us or abused us.
Sometimes we psych ourselves up into a hyper-sensitive situation where someone makes a general comment and we instead interpret what they say as being a threat. People sometimes choose the wrong word when they meant something else.
If someone says something that strikes you as being an attack or offensive, but you wouldn’t normally expect that from someone (or they are a significant other), instead of building sand castles from their words, ask them directly, “What did you mean by such and such?”
You need to make sure they communicated what they wanted to communicate. Without good communication, people get hurt. Without good communication, both mental and emotional damage can happen.
How do we best confront and deal with said fear?
By not worrying about the what-ifs of the future. By asking for clarifications and pushing for good communication. By being concerned about the other person if they look confused or scared.
Simply checking in with your partner can make sure the other person says what they meant to say or that they didn’t hear something that was never meant or implied in your words.