Sunday, January 29, 2012
Fear in Dating and Relationships
I want to expand a little bit on one item from a list I offered several months ago entitled 35 Things I Have Learned. Both of the following statements are pretty critical to work with if you are interested in developing a healthy, conscious relationship.
Fear is behind so many of the mistakes we make.
This might seem obvious, but I think it's worth taking a closer look. Fear can operate in several ways. First, there's actions. You might choose to do something because you are afraid that if you don't, your date or partner will react negatively. Or you might choose to not do something for the same reasons. Secondly, there's speech. For example, saying what you think the other person wants to hear. Or withholding certain key information to soften a conversation. Or reacting in an anxious or angry way to comments being made by your date or partner about something. Thirdly, there are none verbal cues. The body tensing up in response to certain actions or comments. Physically withdrawing from touch or even totally away from the other person in response to something.
In other words, fear manifests in many different ways, and it's good to keep that in mind when trying to understand your own behavior, as well as that of your date or partner.
Another reason I am bringing up fear is because it's a normal, human experience. And I think that it's vital to learn how to be ok with feeling fear, while at the same time, being able to act from a stronger place than it. When I am feeling fear in the context of a dating situation, I try to somehow give it some space. Sometimes this means focusing on my breathing. Or doing formal meditation practice. Or taking a walk or doing some sort of physical activity. Obviously, what you choose to do will depend upon the situation. However, the main point is to learn to refrain from simply acting out whenever fear arising.
Finally, instead of treating fear as an enemy, consider that it often is actually an ally. How many times have you been deeply afraid of something, only to find out later that there was a great discovery about your life right on the other side of that fear? What comes to mind to me is the realization I had during one long term relationship that the fears I had about losing her were actually not about HER, but about being alone. In exploring that fear, I was able to eventually wake up to the fact that we weren't really a good match, and that I was sticking the relationship out because I didn't want to be alone.
During the coming week, I want to invite you all to consider the ways fear manifests, or has manifested in your relationships. In addition, consider your relationship to fear itself. Do you see it as an enemy or ally? How do you handle fear when it comes up?
As always, your comments and ideas are welcome.