THE BLOG
07/22/2014 11:15 am ET | Updated Sep 21, 2014

Are You Afraid of Falling in Love?

Dragan Todorovic via Getty Images

Watch for these telltale signs of two big relationship fears. Understanding them can finally free you to attract a genuine, loving relationship.

Two Fears That Keep People Single

Fear plays a huge role in relationships, and two fears in particular cause some of the biggest problems. If you understand how these two fears work, you're much more likely to attract a healthy relationship into your life.

When you're in a scary situation -- say you're confronted by a bear -- it's easy to know what you're feeling. You're afraid. And you know that what's causing the fear is a very definite threat to your physical wellbeing.

Fear has a purpose. It is meant to keep you safe. You want to get the heck away from that bear as fast as possible. And, fear compels you to take action.

When it comes to relationships, fear is a bit harder to identify. Most of the time you're not exactly sweating bullets and fearing for your life. You probably don't have such a strong visceral response. But the fear is just as valid.

We've found that relationship-based fears (some call it "fear of intimacy") tend to come in two main flavors. And both serve the same purpose: to keep you safe. Unfortunately, they also keep you from having a close, loving relationship.

Let's take a close look at this and how it happens.

Relationship-Based Fear #1: Fear of Being Abandoned

This one is familiar to most people.

Being in a committed, loving relationship involves taking risks. To fully know another and create intimacy, you need to be vulnerable. The minute you commit to being with someone and being loved, you also open up the possibility of being left.

It's a very scary premise -- that you can let someone into your heart only to have the relationship not work out.

The threat here is clear: it's the pain of heartbreak. This threat is especially terrifying if you've been looking for the "real deal" for a long time and can't bear the thought of another relationship not working out.

This is fear's way of keeping you safe -- if you don't get too close, there's nothing to fear (or so we tell ourselves.)

Relationship-Based Fear #2: Fear of Being Smothered

As much as you may genuinely want a lasting, loving relationship, part of you might be afraid that having such a relationship is going to take away your freedom.

The common "other half" mentality actually leads to fears about getting into a relationship -- by suggesting that we are each somehow incomplete until we find a partner, we might feel that we have to compromise a great deal.

Being single comes with a lot of freedom -- you get to decide what to do with your time and what your priorities are. The prospective of a close relationship presents another kind of threat: the potential loss of individuality, autonomy, and personal space.

How To Know If You Have Either Of These Fears

Fear of being abandoned and being smothered show up in a lot of ways. Sometimes people are very picky about a mate, or they check out of the whole dating process altogether. Others create unnecessary expectations for relationships, or inadvertently stir up tension in a relationship when they do get into one.

And here's the kicker: These two fears tend to take hold of us at the same time!

We genuinely want to be in a relationship, but we are also equally afraid of being left AND of losing ourselves.

No wonder why finding a great partner and creating a healthy relationship feels like a shot in the dark.

But once you dissolve these fears, you unshackle yourself from their effects. And then, love will start flowing your way so fast, you won't want to stop it.

Once You Free Yourself From Fear, You Attract Lasting Love

We both struggled with fears of abandonment and being smothered before we met each other (over 30 years ago!), and these fears still crept in after we got together.

But because we were both deeply interested in relationships, we discovered how we could keep these fears from interfering in our lives. That's a big part of the reason why our marriage works.

Relationship fears are often inherited -- we learned them during our childhoods, and they've followed us into our adult years. And, there's nothing like love or the prospect of it to trigger these fears at the deepest level.

Once you identify your own fears and resolve them at a deep level, you create a shift that sets in motion exactly what you've been craving: a fearless relationship brimming with limitless joy, connection, and passion.

There's no need to fear being left -- or being trapped in a relationship. When you're finally in the right relationship, you'll know what it's like to feel completely safe. You'll be able to feel a close connection with your mate, while maintaining your own individuality -- honoring yourself and each other.

It's a delicious feeling like no other.

Katie and Gay's free relationship e-newsletter, Hearts In Harmony, explores the challenges and glories of lasting love. Based on the tools they've developed throughout their 30+ year marriage and taught to thousands, you'll learn powerful insights and practical techniques you can start using today -- whether you're in a relationship or eager to attract one.

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