These ways to overcome fear of love are inspired by a reader’s question on my “scared to love” article. The first step to overcoming your fear of relationships is to recognize the signs.
In Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment and Building Lasting, Loving Relationships, Michelle Skeen describes how to break the self-fulfilling cycle of mistrust, fear, and heartbreak in relationships. She describes how coping behaviors (which are deeply entrenched and automatic behaviors rooted in childhood experiences and fears) can take over. Those coping behaviors cause you to sabotage your relationships. By recognizing these coping behaviors and understanding their cause, you will not only gain powerful insights into your own mind, but also into the minds of those around you.
Here’s my reader’s question about how to overcome fear of love: “Every relationship I’ve ever had I’ve ended, mostly after a few months,” says Lucy on When You’re in Love With Someone Scared of Love. “As soon as my partner tells me he loves me and wants to spend more time with me, I run away. I was married for 8 years and thought I had broken the chain but all I did was push him away too. We ended because I needed space and my feelings for him had changed. But that happens with all of my relationships. How do I overcome fear of love?”
Different things work for different people. Here’s what worked for me…
How to Overcome Fear of Love
It’s important to remember that one blog post on overcoming fear of love won’t heal you. You’re struggling with deep-seated patterns of relating to others. It takes conscious effort and self-awareness to break those patterns.
The best tip on how to overcome fear of love is to ask for help. I’m impressed that Lucy shared her struggle on my article about being scared of love, and I believe it’s her first step towards healing and a healthy relationship.
Recruit someone to walk alongside you
When I lived in Africa, the school I taught at offered free counseling for teachers. I thought I’d be a fool to pass it up! I went to counseling for about eight months; I both loved and hated it. It was hard, but it was good.
My counselor, Nancy, gave me an objective perspective of my behavior. I grew up with a single mom who struggled with schizophrenia her whole life. I was neglected from birth, and had a huge emptiness in my heart. This caused so many fears in my life: fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of marriage, fear of relationships with men.
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I wasn’t “healed” after eight months of counseling, but I gained a great deal of self-awareness and insight. I got married about two years later, when I was 35 years old. Now I’ve been happily married for 10 years and I know I could never have come this far without Nancy.
Learn how your fear of love “manifests” itself
How do you show your fear of love? I withdrew from people, became extremely judgmental, and gave my husband the silent treatment when I was hurt or angry at him. I ran away. I still do it.
In her comment, Lucy said she broke up with her most recent ex boyfriend because she needs space. “He’s the first person I’ve actually been with that I think I am in love with,” she says. “But I concentrate on his faults and pick fights to push him away. I don’t want to see someone every day.”
Before you can learn how to overcome fear of love, you need to recognize your patterns. What are the signs you’re afraid to love someone? Start there. Just notice what you’re doing.
Learn why you’re afraid to love
I feared love because I didn’t understand how love or marriage worked. My counselor Nancy showed me that I didn’t learn how to give or receive love when I was a kid. My mom was emotionally and physically distant, which left a huge gap in my psyche. This has a huge effect on my adult relationships; it wasn’t until I recognized this that I learned how to overcome my fear of love.
“I can’t break this circle I’ve created because I don’t understand why I’m doing it,” says Lucy. “I do love him and think about him constantly, but whenever we get back on track and the intensity of the relationship comes back, I break things off again. How do I stop running away from relationships?”
She hit the nail on the head: she can’t learn how to overcome fear of love because she doesn’t know what the roots are. Where does it come from? This is why counselors are helpful: they see things about our past and personality that we can’t. A good counselor will recognize patterns and interconnections, and give us tools to heal.
Be vulnerable. Accept healing and love
We’re all broken. If we can see why we hurt and learn ways to accept healing and love, then we can overcome our fears and insecurities. If we can accept God’s love and see ourselves the way He sees us, we’ll start healing. God’s love is perfect and fulfilling, and can fill our empty hearts and souls.
Perhaps the root of all fear of love is vulnerability. Fear of being hurt, rejected, abandoned, betrayed, taken advantage of, conned, embarrassed. When we love, we are vulnerable to all sorts of pains and problems. We have no defenses.
The best tip on how to overcome fear of love is to find a consistent source of security, comfort, joy, peace, and freedom. If you dip into God’s river of love and grace every day – if you accept Jesus’ call on your heart – then it’ll matter less what happens in your relationships. You might get hurt, betrayed, rejected, or conned…but you’ll still have the core of love and faith that God offers.
That, to me, is the only way to jump into a love relationship with both feet.
To learn more about overcoming fears in relationships, read How to Overcome Fear of Intimacy.
I welcome your thoughts on how to overcome fear of love, but I can’t offer advice. You may find it helpful to share your experience, though. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and a fresh perspective on things.
Sometimes we say goodbye not because we stop loving someone or we don’t care. Sometimes saying goodbye is just a painful way to say ‘I love you.’