THE BLOG
07/27/2010 01:02 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

5 Lessons on Fear and Romance

We take it for granted that romance has to do with "attraction" and "sexual satisfaction," with the possibility of a longer-term relationship always being in the cards. One profound truth about romance is this: it is often about fear. Fear can be a potent driver of romance and when it is, it can complicate the picture significantly. Here are give lessons to learn on fear and romance and what you can do about this.

1. Attachments often form in deficit states: It is only secure attachments that form in a space of mutual sharing and fulfillment. When we are anxious or avoidant (and we often are), we can become "excited" when we sense the potential for someone to fill a void. In this case, fear of being alone is often disguised as excitement, and when that void is filled, the fear often emerges as itself. This can be surprising to many who become confused when excitement turns to boredom or anger. When you feel this switch, reflect on deficit states. Ask each other what you felt was missing when you met each other. Then focus on being together while you learn to understand yourself as being "whole." The difference between "whole" and "perfect" cannot be overemphasized.

2. Orgasm creates temporary trust: Oxytocin is the trust hormone. It decreases fear as well. During orgasm, oxytocin is increased. This can create a "false" feeling of trust, for the effect does not last very long. This is short-lived trust. Do not mistake the relief and satisfaction with sex with that of a trusting relationship When sex becomes your predominant mode of relating you are placing yourself at risk of repeated trust ruptures as well. The simple intervention here: make sure you understand the "relief" trust of orgasm and the longer-acting trust of a meaningful relationship. People who fear real intimacy may turn to sex as the solution.

3. Trust is boring: While trust is something everyone strives for in romance, it is often boring for one or both partners. The trouble is, mistrust is not exactly a win either. Denying that trust is boring can be a problem as the assumption that things are great may place you unknowingly on the slippery slope of boredom. Ask yourself and your partner how life can be exciting with trust. Be innovative in your relationships. Map out similarities between yourself and your partner and see how this can evolve into a meaningful life challenge that you can handle together. If not, trust evolves into mistrust and fear that creates excitement but also distance.

4. Sometimes giving is receiving: Many things are relative in romance. People quickly take on the roles of "giver" and "receiver." This can lead to tremendous frustration in both partners. If this is the case, talk about it overtly. Switch roles deliberately from time to time to see what it feels like to be on the other side. You will be surprised to see how your role may have been a choice for fear of being on the other side. Givers may say they want to receive more but they may fear this because of losing control. Receivers may say they may want to give more but they may fear depleting themselves. Help each other understand the underbellies of your behavior.

5. Fear of abandonment can cause you to stray: The anticipation of abandonment is horrific to many people. In some ways, it is like waiting for death. To escape this anticipation, a partner may choose to abandon first by straying or leaving. When you sense a fear of abandonment in a partner, talk to them about this. Find a way to reassure each other that you can both focus on growth and remind each other of this whenever abandonment fears take over. Allow yourself to be reassured. If you do the reassuring, understand why being reassuring makes you feel trapped.

These five counterintuitive fears -- fear of being a void, fear of intimacy, fear of the boredom of trust, fear of giving or receiving and fear of abandonment -- can significantly influence romance. Pay attention to these fears and you will be in a much better position to manage your own romance.

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