Dear Vitamin C –
I have developed a romantic interest over the last few months. I genuinely know that I want to invest in a long- term relationship with this person. How do I keep myself from ruining the opportunity with doubt, the urge to pull away, or a general fear of being hurt, lied to or left in the dust?
Best – (hopefully not) Hopeless Romantic
Dear Not –So Hopeless Romantic –
First of all, I want to let you know that everything that you are feeling is completely normal regardless of your life experience. Your fear arises due to the intense feelings you have for this person. Part of “falling” for someone is scary. It’s a leap of faith into the unknown but that is what also makes it thrilling.
Learning how to calm your fear when it starts to grab you is critical. You can do this by telling yourself “This feeling of fear is actually a good thing, it means that my heart is fully engaged. This feeling comes with the territory of falling in love, if I didn’t have this fear that would be a bad sign.” Recognizing your fear and the reasons for it should help you calm yourself so that it and the urge to pull away doesn’t overpower your love.
Second, there is no guarantee that you won’t get hurt. That comes with being in a relationship. We can’t control the behavior of another person. All you can do is to focus on your behavior and do the best you can to stay within your personal values. Strengthening your character and leaning into what you like about yourself will only serve you well. For example if you like that you are a trusting person continue to be trusting – whether someone is trustworthy or not has to do with their character not yours.
Third, be aware that many times we try to manage our fear of being hurt by using strategies that may have helped us survive in the past. For example, if we had a dysfunctional childhood, we may have unconsciously developed patterns of avoidance, becoming invisible or numbing in order to get through the day. These types of strategies wreak havoc in interpersonal relationships. Recognizing this and doing your best to manage your fear yourself or with a therapist will help break such patterns and establish a healthier way of communicating and connecting.
In the end, it all comes down to choice. You can play it safe by taking a balcony view on love or you can take risk and get on the dance floor where all the good stuff is. Stepping past your fear and choosing love is a brave move for a very hopeful romantic.
Yours – Vitamin C