A healthy, successful relationship requires both people to be authentic and vulnerable with each other. Unfortunately, vulnerability can trigger fears and insecurities from a deep subconscious level. When we give our heart to someone we feel at risk of losing something we value greatly. How we act on our impulses of fear an anxiety make all the difference.
Psychologists theorize our predisposition toward relationship fears and insecurities begins at a very early age (four months to two years of age). Known as the attachment theory, it explains that how we experience our relationships with our mother and father or other primary caregiver, helps create either a secure, anxious or avoidant attachment style in future relationships. If a child receives unconditional love and prompt attention from well-adjusted parents, the child feels safe to explore his world and develops a secure attachment style. If the child is over-protected or controlled or receives conditional love from a parent or caregiver, he experiences anxiety and uncertainty in exploring his world and develops an anxious attachment style. If a child receives little attention and is encouraged not to cry or need support but to be independent he learns to develop a more detached or avoidant attachment style.
In relationships, attachment styles come to bear when communication breaks down or expectations are not effectively managed. When an unexpected event occurs, a person with a secure attachment style will generally assume things are fine and there is probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for the event. A person with an anxious attachment style would tend to worry, over analyze and view the same event with concern, whether founded or not. An avoidant attachment style individual would lead a person under the same circumstances to be detached or and unconcerned as to the event, its cause or outcome.
Therefore, if your parents or caregivers were over-protective, controlling, worriers and they provided only conditional love or discouraged displays of affection or dismissed your needs, you will have a natural inclination to react with anxiety, fear or insecurity. It is a lens through which you see and experience the events of your relationships. Since few people are raised by completely secure, perfectly developed parents or caregivers, most of us are subject to a few different issues that will trigger some level of insecurity. But, it is important to note if your first impulse is to worry; and it’s imperative to test that impulse with logic before rushing to judgment and acting on your insecurities. It may take practice, but when you feel that familiar worry, take a logical step back from any assumption that follows before acting on impulse. Consider what has happened in reality and see if it maps to your concerns. Try not to build a case for your fears. Rather, use the events that have actually taken place to guide you to a clearer perception.
Our adolescent and adult relationships can also challenge our sense of security and our trust within our loving relationships. For a healthy relationship, we cannot judge the people in our lives now based upon the actions of someone in our past. To avoid misunderstandings and arguments, it is very important to become aware of these fears that trigger negative thoughts or impulses (worries, insecurities, fears, accusations, jealousies, etc.) and take a more balanced approach. It takes a bit of faith in yourself and a bit of courage to remain open and vulnerable while at the same time being aware and maintaining healthy boundaries. When fears do arise, take a step back from assumptions or impulses based on fears and consider that it may not be based in reality. Taking this approach will prevent countless misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships. When you assume the best about your partner, versus your fears about your partner, it fosters a positive environment of trust. When you constantly fear and worry and seek validation and comfort it becomes quickly exhausting and pushes your partner away. No one outside yourself can give you the comfort you seek. You must develop your own faith and trust in yourself to overcome your insecurities and fears.
So next time you feel afraid or worry you are losing your loved one, take time to appreciate the bigger picture. Remember and trust the positive and fact-check your worries. The answer usually lies in finding your own balanced truth rather than worrying or questioning your partner or making unreasonable demands of them. Take a step back, take some time for yourself and trust your partner and your bond. Respect each other and directly discuss any real issues that are of concern. Be reasonable, avoid blame and always take personal responsibility for your fears. Never resort to game playing or manipulation in an effort to control or change your partner. Unconditional love rises above our fears. We are not slaves to our upbringings or experiences (regardless of their influence on us). We have the choice to step back from the ledge of our fears and take a healthy approach to any concerns that arise without attempting to compromise or control our partners. Love cannot flourish in a controlling or fearful environment.
Do you experience fear or anxiety in your relationships? Do you later realize they were generally unfounded? Share your struggles and strategies on how you manage your fears and stayed focused and calm when uncertainty arises. Join the conversation in the comments below.