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I really want a long-lasting relationship, but it never seems to work out. Some people have told me that they think I don’t fully engage with them. I think there is truth in that, but I get scared to open up to guys I date out of fear that they will judge me or I will get hurt. It’s hard to be honest about my insecurities, and I think it partly makes me fail in relationships. Why do you think I’m so afraid, and what can I do to learn how to trust others?

It’s hard to convince someone to not be afraid, especially if those fears are strong. Fear is a normal part of being alive, and most of us grow up being afraid of something. We are taught not to stick our fingers in light sockets or talk to strangers who might offer us candy. We don’t want to get hurt, abducted, or injured, but sometimes the fear of emotional pain affects us more than the concern about physical wounds.

This can come from a variety of avenues. Maybe we grew up with overprotective parents or in households that were unstable or abusive. We may not have been encouraged to try new adventures out of a fear of failure or were scared to be anything other than perfect. There are so many experiences that can cause us to develop anxiety and fear around particular situations. It’s those circumstances that can stop us from facing our fears to achieve something we actually want.

Many fears we feel can be based in actual concerns, and people should be cautious regarding them. It only takes a few experiences to learn that pain hurts, and fire can burn you. Wrecking on your bike without wearing a helmet can cause you to have a concussion, and not paying attention to where you’re walking can make you trip and fall down.

Although humans are considered to be the most intelligent animals on Earth, we are still susceptible to the basic, animalistic feeling of fear. It is our survival instinct to use our senses and experiences that give us warning signs of potential danger.

Although we may not have to worry about being hunted and eaten, predators or pitfalls may still exist in our lives that can cause us to experience a legitimate fear response.

As far as trusting people in relationships, it is important to figure out what you are feeling. You can then use that knowledge to determine if your love for someone can be stronger than your concerns regarding fears involved with loving them. It doesn’t matter if it is friendships, family, or romantic love. There are many elements that bring up concerns, anxiety, or dread.

Some stress about the potential to get hurt emotionally or have people abandon them. Others worry that people may judge them for having a poor self-image or a lack of pride in their accomplishments. We may fear rejection by someone we care about or want to get to know. These types of fears stop many people from attempting to fully engage in relationships.

Feeling scared about how others may perceive them or fear of judgment and being potentially tossed aside can drive someone to put up their defenses. To get close to someone, you have to offer some aspect of vulnerability. That’s hard to do when you put on you suit of armor because you’re scared about getting hurt.

The first step in addressing these concerns is to determine what you’re actually afraid of. This may take the form of remembering traumatic situations or difficult people. You may even feel some of the emotions of fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, or grief when thinking about things in the past. In your present life, take some time when you realize you are feeling uncomfortable or notice you are pulling back emotionally to discover what thoughts or memories are being brought up in your mind.

You can work to determine if these are things that are relevant to the person or situation at hand, or if it is just old crap rearing its ugly head. You can’t fight an enemy if you don’t know what it is.

Don’t forget that feelings and emotions are not always factual or rational.

Just because you feel something doesn’t mean you have to act on it, but addressing it is extremely important in learning how to deal with it.

The process of self-discovery, healing from past pain, and developing better confidence can be daunting and scary. It may be extremely challenging to create new patterns and frustrating that change does not happen as quickly as we desire. Gaining success in these areas can do so much for us. Most importantly, it can help us become more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

The fear of discomfort is something that stops many of us from tackling certain tasks. We build up the apprehension that particular experiences will stress us out and be difficult to face. The potential benefits are overshadowed by our concern of feeling distressed. It’s like having a sore throat and experiencing terror that it will hurt when you swallow. Avoiding something doesn’t mean it will go away. Most times, these issues we try to ignore simply hang out in the shadows and wait to affect our lives, often when we least expect them or want them to impact us.

There are times when we feel that something or someone may pose a potential danger to us and we may perceive the need to be increasingly aware of our surroundings so we don’t get hurt. On the flip side, we also have a strong capacity to want to build bonds through friendships, other relationships, and romantic entanglements. This desire to connect and develop loving feelings is absolutely one of the strongest drives we can experience.

Unfortunately, there are many potential concerns and insecurities that exist to stop us from trusting others so we can find those connections. For many of us, the experience of finding a love is exhilarating. It makes us feel connected not only to a particular person, but also to everyone else around us who finds happiness when engaging with other people. It is important to stop allowing fear to dictate how we care about others. Start by being courageous and facing the things that scare you. Prioritize which elements you think are the most important to work on, and discuss them with people you trust. Focus on acting in ways that challenge your insecurities and discomfort in letting people get close to you.

Bring these concerns out of the darkness so you can shine light on them. It is extremely important to actively confront those aspects of yourself that stop you from building healthy relationships. It takes practice to get more comfortable and confident when incorporating these new patterns into your life. The more you challenge yourself to address these fears, the more assurance you can build in yourself and your ability to have faith in other people.