These relationship tips are inspired by a reader’s comment…
“I dated a great lady for 11 months,” says S. on my article about how much you should tell your finace about your past. “She chose to end the relationship. Now that it’s over, I realize I love her dearly. We exchanged emails – the only way she would communicate with me. The true reason for ending the relationship…something happened to her 30 years ago that she says she has never got over. She will not talk about it. I am the only person she ever mentioned it to. The event has left her guarded to the extent where she prefers to live her life alone, without relying or trusting anyone. She had counseling but it did not work. Now, she now accepts this is the way she is. She felt our relationship was becoming too serious so decided to end it abruptly. I’m heartbroken this has happened and really don’t understand that two people have deep feelings for each other and yet she is not willing to work things out. I am only too happy to continue as we were before, by accepting her fears but she will not…Is there any hope or shall I just let her go?”
First, I think you need to learn more about fear of intimacy, from books such as Stop Running from Love: 3 Steps to Overcoming Emotional Distancing & Fear of Intimacy. You might even consider sending her the book and letting her decide if she wants to pursue healing and forgiveness.
Remember that what helps one person overcome fear of intimacy (running from love) may not work for another. And, just because counseling was ineffective once doesn’t mean it won’t work now! Sometimes we don’t connect with our counselors, or we’re too scared to tackle our problems. The timing wasn’t right, perhaps.
Here are a few thoughts on running from love…
When You’re in Love With Someone Who is Scared of Love
There’s a fine line between harassing her, and being available to her if and when she’s ready to stop running from love! These tips will help you toe the line…
Accept the fact that guardedness is a companion that isn’t easy to break free from
Fear of intimacy or emotional disconnection isn’t easy to overcome. It’s a process that takes years, and may never be completely “gone.” I was scared (terrified!) to love and be loved back; it took a year of counseling to help me be aware of my guardedness and allow myself to be emotionally available and vulnerable with a man.
In fact, I still withdraw from my husband when I’m hurt, angry, confused, or scared. I’m deeply in love with him, but I won’t hesitate to push him away. Luckily, after six years of marriage we both recognize when it’s happening. He calls me on it.
Remember why love is scary: because it leaves you vulnerable
It is very difficult for anyone to change, much less someone who is scared to love and be loved in return! Love is an emotion that leaves you totally exposed to big and little hurts, major and minor pains. I’m actually surprised that more people aren’t running from love.
The guardedness – my counselor called it hiding behind my wall – feels like a part of who we are. We feel safe and protected behind our walls, and it’s not easy to expose ourselves to the frightening world of love. Love is scary for everyone, but it’s terrifying for people who have been badly hurt during their childhoods. They’re scared to fall in love again because they’re protecting themselves.
However, just because you understand why the one you love is scared to love you back doesn’t mean you should continue in the relationship! Read Making Relationships Work – How Far Should You Go?
Learn about the dance of intimacy – and back off
I recently attended a live marriage counseling session; the therapist said 95% of couples do a pursuing/being pursued dance. The more the pursuer chases, the farther and faster the pursued runs. Maybe it’s not a dance – maybe it’s a chase!
The more you email, call, write, or text the person you’re in love with, the more you’ll push her away. If you want more emotional connection – more love – then you need to give her time and space to breathe.
Give your lover a chance to miss you, to breathe, and to figure out if she wants to learn how to safely love you.
Remember that being scared to love can only be overcome by one person
You can’t do much to reduce the fear your lover feels. Only she can decide that she doesn’t want to be scared of love…and only she can take action to overcome her fear of intimacy. The tricky part is how hard counseling is. It forces you to face the reasons you’re afraid of falling in love, and it requires you to work on your thought and behavior patterns. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
If you don’t know if your partner is scared to love you back, Signs of Emotional Distance in a Relationship.
Are you in love with someone who is scared to love you back? Comments welcome below…
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.