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Fear and Relationships II  

Fear is a pretty big factor in much of our lives. A good example of this can be seen in our society right now. As I write this, the political primary season is getting into high gear and campaigning is going full force. I don’t care who you support or what political values you espouse, if you examine campaigns closely it is pretty apparent that much of what is being said appeals to our fears. I will avoid getting too political by not getting into specifics here. The real reason I bring it up is because of what it means. Politicians spend a lot of time trying to trigger our fears because fears are highly motivating. If they can trigger our fears we are more likely to be motivated to support them, vote, etc.

What does this have to do with relationships. Well, fear in relationships is highly motivating as well. When we experience fear in relationships we are highly motivated to do something to reduce that fear. A big problem is the way we choose to do that often ends up being detrimental to the relationship. Let’s look at the role fear plays in our lives and it may make more sense.

A good way to conceptualize fear is the experience we have when we experience some threat. Generally, that threat is about being hurt, either physically or emotionally, or losing something. Fear is thus a trigger for us to do something to protect ourselves from that threat. When we think about fears that are related to the relationship, most of them are at the emotional level, about hurt or loss. At the most basic level the threat of loss of love or being cared about is a potential fear in any relationship, whether that is through a change in our partner’s feelings or actual physical loss of them. There are also many more ways fears come up in relationships and we will look at some of those as this series goes along.

One of the big problems is that much of the fear we have in relationships tend to happen at a relatively unconscious level. We don’t normally have the thought that we may lose the feeling of being loved, cared about, and accepted in the relationship. The way we experience such things in relationships is much subtler. I will explore that a bit more next month.

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