Are You Afraid of Love?

Are you afraid of love? Welcome to the club. I don’t think there’s a human being alive who hasn’t had the experience of fearing love. Why? What could be scary about love? Isn’t this the feeling we are all looking for?

In my opinion, the problem is the vulnerability that comes with love. The only way to give and receive love is with an ‘open heart.’ When your heart is open, however, it can be hurt. If you try to love ‘closed’ or ‘defensive,’ true love doesn’t get in or get out.

Here’s the conundrum, most of us protect or defend ourselves when we feel hurt. Even after we get hurt, we prefer to continue defending ourselves against the possibility of future hurts rather than heal our hearts. More so because we’ve already experienced hurt and we don’t want any more uncomfortable or painful feelings to happen again. There are plenty of people walking around so defended against the hurts and absence of love they’ve experienced, that the chances of giving and receiving love again in their lives are minimal. This is very tragic to say the least.

Not only is true love accompanied by vulnerability, it is also a ‘magnet’ for all the unresolved hurts and absences of love that occurred in a person’s life. This fact no doubt further compounds our fears of love. New love will eventually draw out old unresolved love hurts and absences. That’s a lot to handle. Many people decide it’s better to stay away from love to avoid being overwhelmed with hurt feelings.

The problem here is if you do that no healing ever takes place. So much of what we do in our lives is ultimately in reaction to the hurts and absence of love we’ve experienced. Love is such a powerful human emotion, it’s presence is capable of healing us and its absence in some cases can make us sick. The only chance we have of doing something about this problem is to better understand our fear of love and ‘soften’ the defenses we use to cope with the fear and loss which ultimately permits some healing to take place.

Common defenses involve the use of ‘control.’ Control is a code word for a closed heart. When a person is in emotional control he or she is closed to the vulnerability of love. Control comes in various forms. Some people practice control in the form of ‘distance.’ The idea is, if you stay far enough away from something it won’t hurt you. There are a million and one ways to stay away from love. Just out of range, so to speak. You can see how the emotion of love is now being considered something threatening or even dangerous.

Unfortunately, some people anesthetize themselves with substances, a very potent way of keeping oneself unaffected by the hurts and absence of love. If you’re not feeling, you can’t be affected by love. Other people are so hurt by love that they focus primarily on hurting others in some kind of subconscious retaliation. This is so tragic because not only does the original hurt and absence never heal, but new hurt and absence is created in other innocent people as a consequence.

If you are lucky enough to find the courage to do something about this problem and not just let it go it’s predictable course, you’ll have to realize a few things. I’ll give you a few helpful ideas you can use on your journey of repair. First and foremost, we all have the capacity to heal our hearts. That’s a fact of being human. To release this ability from its hiding place within, you only have to have faith in your natural ability to heal. I don’t understand how this works any more than what I’ve just said. The belief or faith in your natural capacity to heal somehow releases it as a resource that works for you.

Don’t expect to be in love and not get hurt. That may be a pretty big pill for a lot of you to swallow, but if you think about it, it’s a fact. Because a love relationship involves two different people with two different viewpoints, there will be times when your heart gets bruised. You have a choice, try to protect yourself from the inevitable hurts by perfecting the art and science of control, or get better at healing the heart and relationship when hurts happen. Personally I choose the latter simply because of the greater chance of success.

The vulnerability of love is something you have to at first build a tolerance for, then get used to, and eventually learn to enjoy. In fact, if you think about it, true strength is not in the avoidance of love or practice of control. True strength is developing your natural ability to live with and prosper from the vulnerability of love. Learn how to communicate your emotional experience to the ones you love. Practice listening to and telling the truth. When you are open to the emotion of love, your ability to discern the truth is heightened.

Practice giving love without expecting anything back, even if it’s only once in a while, and receiving love graciously when it is given to you. When you sense your defensiveness, experiment with the risk involved in being different. You know those defensive ways of coping you’ve learned and perfected over the years are doing nothing for you now in adulthood. Try something different. Something that will show you that you really have the ability to handle the vulnerability of love and heal your heart.  Dr. T. Jordan










Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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