The Fear of Getting Emotionally Hurt can affect most of us – whether we are conscious of it or not.
It may manifest at various stages of our relationships and also when we lost someone we loved. This fear can make us put up all sort of defenses that we believe protect us from getting hurt.
We may feel that these defenses offer us some sort of safety or security – yet they are merely barriers we build between ourselves and those we most desire.
So what keeps us from finding and keeping the love we say we want?
Most of us have a natural fear of the unknown. We take a real risk with the new relationship, opening up to another person. We change our habits, and whatever gave us a feeling of comfort before, doesn’t work anymore in the new situation. We feel exposed and vulnerable. We also tend to believe that the more we care, the more we can get hurt.
This belief could be related to our own traumatic emotional experiences in the past – such as betrayal or divorce. However, some could get their fear from hearing a story about someone’s tragic love experience, usually a member of their own family or a friend. They can’t stand even the idea of getting deeply emotionally involved, thinking of the worst possible scenario – if they happened to fall in love.
Many of us may experience underlying feelings of being unlovable. We think of ourselves as being worthless, and have a hard time believing that anyone could truly care for us. This usually relates to what we have been taught, or taught ourselves, in our childhood – either by experiencing a critical attitude from our parents or caregivers or – we have adopted the feelings they had about themselves.
When someone sees us differently, loving and appreciating us, we may actually start to feel uncomfortable and defensive, as it challenges everything that we have believed about ourselves for a long time.
We strongly identify with Our Vision of Ourselves and tend to get attached to it, no matter what’s happening in our life.
Many of us are afraid of feeling deep emotions. As love stirs our emotions, we may experience a whole spectrum of feelings – from overwhelming joy to sadness. Many of us would rather numb ourselves than feel sadness. However, we cannot simply numb ourselves just to sadness. When we do so – we also numb ourselves to joy.
Running away from our emotions makes us let our happiness escape from our life.
Many of us are afraid of losing our loved one and would rather not experience love at all than have it and then lose it. When we fall in love, we not only face the fear of losing our partner, but we also begin to experience more of our own existential fear. Our life is now more meaningful, and so the thought of losing it becomes more frightening. We may sabotage our happy relationship, picking fights with our partner, or – even entirely give up on the relationship – finding many reasons in our head why we shouldn’t be in it, to begin with.
People who let their Fear of Getting Emotionally Hurt persist – may develop a more severe syndrome that will take over their life and ruin any chance for creating a happy relationship:
They may suffer from a whole bunch of symptoms such as nausea, breathlessness or excessive perspiration. They may be prone to having panic attacks whenever they feel they may be in “danger” of getting involved with anyone or – even worse – developing a deeper relationship with someone special.
Philophobia (from Greek: filos, meaning “beloved” or “loving”, and phobos, meaning “fear”) is the state of someone being irrationally afraid of falling in love.
People with philophobia prefer to be single for the rest of their lives.
They may also, for instance, avoid watching romantic movies or stay away from places where couples usually gather. Attending a wedding ceremony could feel like true torture to them. And if nothing is done to help their fear – their philophobia could become a severe drawback to their social life.
How to overcome The Fear of Getting Emotionally Hurt:
Step 1: Try to figure out what are your major concerns about falling in love:
– What do you think might happen if you allow yourself to love and be loved in return?
You may want to write down your thoughts, to better analyze your feelings.
Step 2: Think back to your past relationships – if you had any:
– What did you fight about with your partner?
– What feelings/thoughts made you react to your partner in a certain way?
– Why did you break up?
OR – if you didn’t have a serious relationship in the past:
– What negative stories have you heard about unhappy or tragic relationships?
– How did they make you feel?
– Did you believe that a similar unhappy story might happen to you?
Again, write down your thoughts and conclusions.
Step 3: Think back to your childhood.
Recall what your parents/caregivers thought of themselves:
– Did they have low self-esteem and didn’t believe that they deserved happiness in life?
Recall what kind of Vision of Yourself you have created in your early years:
– Have you been often criticized?
– Have you been told that you are not good enough?
– Have you been taught that love does not come for free and one needs to deserve to be loved?
Step 4: Discuss your fears with someone you trust, a friend who wishes you well. Or – if you are in a relationship, talk them over with your partner. That may help you to develop a deeper bond and trust between the two of you. Make sure that both of you stay calm during the discussion.
You may start with something like this:
“I think that my problems with my past relationship (or the current one) were caused by some of my fears about love. I want to work through those feelings to avoid any further problems. Would you be willing to talk with me about this?”
Step 5: Challenge your negative thoughts and work on developing positive thoughts about love.
We are all lovers by nature. And that’s because, whether we are aware of it or not, we always have loved (one way or another) and we are filled with love. When we are talking about love, usually the first thing that comes to mind is romantic love, the one that fills us with passion, changes our heartbeat, and makes us devoted to the “one and only” person in the entire world.
However, Love, as most of us have already found out, has many faces:
There is the motherly/fatherly love, the biological bond, which most of us have discovered as early as when we were in our mother’s womb.
Then there is the family love, known to us through our connections with our siblings, grandparents, or other relatives.
Some of us feel love for our pets, nature, town, country, or the entire globe. Some people say they love humankind.
Some describe as “love” the feeling they have when talking about their life, career, their house, their car, computer, iPod, iPhone, cellphone — or other things they own or want to purchase.
No matter with whomever or whatever, we all have found ways of “falling in love”, or “loving” whoever or whatever we found desirable and “worthy” of the investment of our time, energy, thought and heart.
We all know love, if not through our own experience, then at least through observation or life wisdom which taught us about the existence of such an enormous power.
Although the very concept of love seems to be so natural and empowering, many of us fear love. We fear that by feeling love we might lose our independence, our freedom, and be taken advantage of, leaving us disempowered, humiliated, and simply feeling worthless and bad.
And so, afraid of love, we have guarded ourselves with blocks and walls – to prevent ourselves from possible hurt. Nothing can be further from the truth than anticipating that love will lead us to disempowerment.
Love IS power. Lack of Love IS lack of power.
For our own good, we need to be in tune with Love.
Johanna Kern, multiple award-winning author and transformational teacher wrote this book drawing from her experience and knowledge from over 20 years as a successful professional and counsellor – as well as her experience in her happy relationship with her much younger husband.
She covers all the bases: the easily digestible 14 chapters range over all the questions, fears and possibilities that people grapple with and fantasize about in their quest for lasting intimacy.
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