When You’re in Love With Someone Scared of Love

These tips will help if you find yourself loving someone who is scared to fall in love with you because of fear, insecurity, or a painful past relationship. If you’re the one scared to love, you need to read this.

When You’re in Love With Someone Scared of LoveThe first step is to learn 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.

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 fiance 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?”

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

scared to loveI 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 can’t offer advice, but it may help you to share your experience.

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21 Responses

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    What story are you telling yourself about your relationship? The words you’re using to describe your relationship – and yourself – have the power to build you up or tear you down.

    For example, if you say that you’re not strong enough to let go of him and move on, then you won’t feel strong enough to move forward in your life.

    But if you tell yourself a different story, you will feel and act differently. You will empower yourself to make smart, healthy choices in your life.

    How can you change your story so that you feel stronger and more courageous?

  2. Bennie says:

    I met this wonderful girl for the first time about 3 months ago. She was in my bio class at my college. Something about her struck me immediately. I can’t say I knew that I would love her right then and there but I can tell you that I wanted her to bemail mine. And so a couple weeks later I finally got her number and we started texting and gradually hanging out more and more. And man….did I fall hard. She was simply the most breathe taking girl I had ever known. Words don’t do her justice. On her bad days, she’s still worth the world to me. And shortly after we started liking each other, the infamous ex showed up very un happy. I don’t know all of the details but apparently that wound was still fresh for at least him and that was a toxic relationship for her. It mad me extremely angry the way he was talking to her. 1. That’s the girl I love and I would never in a million years curse her out and make her feel so horrible about herself. 2. If you say you love her, you don’t degrade her. It was just a whole big mess for about amother day. She eventually came to me saying how it was wrong of her to not try with me because of someone who makes me so unhappy. I was overjoyed that I was getting to love her again but at the same time very scared for her. Slowly I was finding out more and more that her heart had gone through and naturally I became more worried because of all of this new information that could cause me to lose her. Well about a month later, I asked her to be my girlfriend and she said yes. Life is good at this point. I have a blessed life, good friends, and now I have a girl this is way out of my league in every aspect. Then comes the rough part of the story. About a week and two days into the relationship, I get that text. The one that makes your stomach drop, your heart pound, and everything go silent. Im still trying to understand all of this as well. It’s been about 2 weeks since that happened. She cares about me, a mutual friend tells me and every now and then I can see it but she’s very good at hiding her emotions. Part of me wants to let her be with that glimmer of a hope that she’ll realize that she wants me back, and then there’s the realistic part of me that knows that she’ll have enough restraint to not tell me even if she does miss me and that’s what hurts the most. The girl of my dreams won’t let me love her. And I could be totally honest right now and tell you that if I somebody asked me if I know who I’m gonna marry already, it would absolutely be that girl. She’s my heart. She’s my happiness. (Of course I will live without her assuming things don’t workout but I’m praying for her) This girl has me wrapped around her finger and I love it. I wish my heart had the right words to say but words don’t do it justice. I’m at the point now where I know I could marry her one day. She pretty much has told me that me and her just aren’t right. She doesn’t feel right about us. Maybe it’s just the feelings still in me talking but I have no desire to let her go. I don’t know whether I should continue to love her or do what the article says and give her space. Of ours giving her space is my greatest fear right now. Scares the heck out of me. Something has to give.

  3. Taylor says:

    I’m 17 and just experienced my first heartbreak. This guy that I’ve known my entire life moved back to my hometown this past summer. We reconnected and started hanging out a lot. As the days went on we started getting closer and closer to eachother. After a few months we had started to talk about the way we felt for eachother and I just could never really explain it to him. I finally found the word for it,love. Honestly this feeling I had for him was shocking because I’d never loved someone before and he had gone through enough bad relationships to think that I was using it to get something from him and ultimately he was scared and ran away from the feelings he told me he had. So we stopped talking and hanging out for a month or two. During that time he got a girlfriend. This relationship that I was completely shocked about lasted a few short weeks. When I find out about it ending I decided I needed to talk to him and tell him what was up. I reexplained my feelings with so much passion that I didn’t even know I had. He again told me he was afraid of everything that I had just said to him. I cannot give up on him just yet. I just don’t know what to to say to him anymore to make him realize that I’m not like those other girls. I have no intentions of hurting him or using him. All I want is for a chance that he never gave me.

  4. Maria Walsh says:

    So basically my current situation is killing me. I met this amazing, sweet guy 3 years ago and I have never been so attracted to someone from a first meeting in my life. We both connected instantly. His friend had then told me a few days later that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend of 4 years as she had been unfaithful. When I was told this I knew I wouldnt want to get involved with someone out of such a long relationship. But as the weeks went on he started to persue me and chase me.I couldnt resist him. Eventually we both fell hard for eachother. He made me so happy . But then after awhile, things changed .. he didnt text me as much and never asked me to meet him. Eventually I got sick of being treated this way so I kissed someone else. He then found out and wrote me off completely, even though he wasnt making any effort with me. He completely shut down.I explained to him that I loved him but as the weeks went on I felt like I didnt matter to him. this happened 2years ago. Ever since we still talk and meet up sometimes but he doesnt treat me the same. He says he still loves me but hes not ready to get into anything . I told him I understood but asked why he still trys to talk to me and why he still tells me he loves me. His reply was that he wants me but he isnt ready. Im completely heartbroken. I dont know what to do as I love him and only him but he cant see it. I would love some advice on what I should do .. thank you.

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Dear Louise,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience. It takes alot of courage to talk about being scared to love! You have a lot of insight and self-awareness, and I hope you’re able to come to a place of healthy and growth in your relationships.

    I wrote this article with you in mind:

    While I don’t give advice, I’m happy to share my thoughts about certain relationship struggles. I, too, was very scared of love…but I didn’t want to be alone. Counseling helped alot.

    I hope this article helps, and wish you all the best.


  6. Louise says:

    This article makes a lot of sense to me. Every relationship I’ve ever had I’ve ended, mostly after a few months. 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 to. We ended because I needed space and my feelings for him had changed. But that happens with all of my relationships.
    I’ve met my recent ex 7 months ago, we split up a few weeks ago, because I told him I needed space. He’s the first person I’ve actually been with that I think I am in love with. But I concentrate on his faults and strategy arguments when I don’t need to just to push him away, so I can have my space. I don’t want to see someone everyday, but he says he wants to because he’s in love with me.
    I can’t break this circle I’ve created, because I don’t understand why I’m doing it. 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? :(

  7. Kris says:

    How do you convince someone to stop running scared from you? I meet someone I instantly connected deeply with. It was mutual even though that scared her. She had a bad history in relationships especially one several months prior and was scared to date and let people close. We agreed to be friends 1st and spent a lot of time texting, talking and hung several times. Really enjoyed each other’s company. I did not push being more than friends as I knew she was scared. After a few weeks, she asked me out on a date. It went great and she wanted to see me again. A few days later she suddenly went distant and then MIA. I can only assume her emotions scared her and anxieties came into play. Contacted her a few times no response. Now giving her space. Been a couple weeks since she went MIA. I really like this person and I am completely willing to be patient, just unsure how to proceed. Advice is appreciated.

  8. Andrew says:

    i know its been a long time since this was written, but i would like some feedback from someone who has experience with this.

    so my Ex just broke up with me this past sunday for the second time. She says it is because of a few reasons, mainly that she keeps having this dream of being with another guy which she interprets as a sign from god that we are not going to be together. another thing is that she feels like she doesn’t love me as much as i love her. she is dealing with a a lot of things right now since her grandfather passed away about a month ago. she was hurt in a past relationship where a guy she was totally in love with left her for another girl. since then she has tried and tried again to date guys but most of the time she leaves them for one reason or another. mainly i think because she doesn’t want to fully open up to getting hurt again. she thinks she is unworthy of being loved by someone and so they will want to leave her, and every guys she has broken up with wrights the relationship off so her subconscious probably takes this as a conformation that she was right. back about a month and a half ago(around the same time she started having these dreams) she asked me if i would move in with her for the summer since once school ended we would be an hour and a half apart otherwise. i was unsure because i had promised my parents i would help work this summer. she was not very happy with this and we had a long fight that we eventually came to begrudging terms on. i think what happened is that at this point i failed her subconscious test. she had broken up with me before and we got back together, but i still wasn’t willing to commit to her fully. so in the back of her mind i think this was a huge stop sign. even though she consciously loved me, i think her subconscious produced these dreams as a way of saying “stop!! what are you doing?!?! he is just going to leave you!!! you have to find someone else!!!” and as our relationship progressed, and she started loving me more, the dreams became clearer and more fervent. she didn’t tell me about the dreams at all till we broke up. at this point, she has convinced herself that she never loved me in the way she thought she did, which i know to be crap, and that she needs to move on to what “god has in store”. basically i haven’t told her what i have concluded, and she doesn’t realize it herself. she needs help, and i want our relationship to work. i am going to tell her the truth and offer to help pay if she wants to go to counseling since her family doesn’t have much money. is this a good idea?

  9. Keri says:

    I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years. He recently told me he doesn’t no if he loves me. I know he does. He had a hard relationship where he was cheated on. He is so afraid of being hurt again. We are currently on a break and he is trying to find himself. I don’t know how long I should wait will he come around. He is seeing a Counciler. We were very happy up to the day he said we need to take a break. He even told me he is very close to telling me he loves me, but needed to do this.

    • Abby says:

      Dear Keri,
      if you loved you why would he leave. Love is a want to be with and around someone. Take care of yourself Keri. Give him all the space he wants in the world but don’t give him the option to come back whenever he wants. Tell him you love him very much but you’re not going to wait for him. Show him you have standards and you’re not going to take this kind of behaviour from him.
      Girl honestly, go out and get your nail and hair done. Revamp your wardrobe and attract someone who is not unsure of whether he wants to be around you.
      My life experience is that people take things, amazing things, for granted.. until it starts slipping away.

    • Tim says:

      Ok, I’m not sure how I found this website but here goes, I’m in a similar situation (I think), I’ve known this girl for a while and we really really connect. Technically, we were never bf/gf and when we went out the first time, she shortly after said she needed to be friends and really appreciated my friendship. I thought she blew me off, but she meant what she said and we continued to be friends but I’m telling you, this isn’t exactly the friendzone. It was one of the best dates I ever had and I wondered what happened. I was prepared that one day she’ll turn up with another guy, but after 1 year, that hasn’t happened. Our friendship is real close to the point people think we’re going out (there was this implicit exclusivity) but the sexual tension is still there but recently I asked her again about moving forward into a relationship and she said she couldn’t, she said she considered it but couldn’t and still saw me as a friend. I couldn’t figure it out – I knew exactly the risks of being friends but I also knew the connection was real or else I’m the biggest douche in the world. This was something else. The she blurted out from out of the blue “all the relationships I’ve been in failed because of me, I have issues”.
      After much consultation with others the moral of the story is, people who are scared of love are real. Their opening up and attraction to you is also real but their fear is real too. This article is spot on – only they have the power to overcome their own fear. The best way to deal with this is to give them space and in a general sense, move on – you have to face the facts since love just can’t be forced. It is most definitely possible to move forward, I have seen it happen with ample counselling but know it’s an indefinite waiting game. Know that your bf is being honest with you and his “real” intention is not trying to screw you over. People need to be whole when they enter into relationships.

      • Ane says:

        Hi Tim,

        Just had wiped my tears away. I am in the same situation.,I hope i have the guts to tell my whole story.. I thought this is my most awaited “Mr. Forever” after my so many failed relationship..

        I just ask him yesterday, “what are we, we have been sleeping together. We are romantically and intimately doing things as couples do.. We go overseas, i cooked for him, he embraces me.. kisses me.. i can feel that he loves me, but when yesterday..the most terrifying question came out of my mouth ..i asked.. what are we.. he simply told me he don’t want to talk about relationships. (He knew one day i will ask…) He told me “we are good friends,and i am happy” and he asked me aint you happy everyday, i answered yes.. I told him i love him and it is really killing me.. I never heard any response.. After a long hours of silence..

        I told him.. I cannot take, see or message him anymore coz it makes me fall in love more and it is breaking me into pieces…

        I know he needs to figures out his past issues of being afraid to fall in love again and get hurt. I let him go.. A bird will always return into its own nest, it might not be me..I am just taking risk and chances..

        Now, I am really in pain.. I don’t want to wait in vain and it is really killing me.. I just have this faith, if it is meant.. it is meant to be.. I am screwed now, but i know i can recover.. And Tim, you are right “People need to be whole when they enter into relationships”

        I’ve been into many relationships.. I loved, get hurt.. I hope one day.. I can feel to be loved again.. It is the greatest feeling..

        Now Crying..

  10. Kearra says:

    I’m going to start off with my age right off the bat, I am 15 years old. I noticed that in this article a lot of marriage-based things were mentioned. As I’m sure you know I am not married, or looking to marry any time soon. My problem is that I have known a guy for about a year and a half now, he started at my school as a new student when I was a freshman and at first we weren’t close at all, but now we are very very close. There is a lot of detail to this story that I’m going to have to leave out for the sake of both of our time. To keep it short, he hasn’t dated in about 3-4 years because his last relationship hurt him terribly… I guess what you might call us is friends with benefits? I recently told him that I love him… and he tells me not to. And he tells me “just don’t think about it”. I told him that I can’t not think about something that I feel all of the time… He also told me that he wished that he could feel like that and that he doesn’t feel any emotions except happiness and apathy. I know that you’re thinking, “She’s only 15, she’s probably not in love. It’ll pass”, I thought the same thing.. but he makes me feel like no other person can make me feel. And back to the “there is more detail” that I won’t share thing, the more details explain a lot… I just really need to know what I can do to help him and explain to him that I do in fact love him and that it’s okay to feel the same way. I don’t necessarily want to help him for me, I want to help him for him. I have considered that he doesn’t love me at all, he just lusts me, and in the end I’m ok with that. I just want him to be happy, and to be able to love one day.

  11. Caleb says:

    You mention that your husband calls you on it when you push him away and withdraw….how does he do this? What does he say to you?

  12. Laurie says:

    I was walking with a friend today, and she said her new boyfriend is scared to let himself fall in love with her. She decided to end their relationship because she wants more from him than he can give her.

    It’s a personal choice – there is no “right or wrong” way to cope when someone you love is scared to love you back.

  13. Laurie says:

    Hi Kim,

    It sounds like he knows what he wants — which is not to fall in love again, because he’s been hurt in the past! Letting him go is your best option. I wonder if he’s open to getting counseling, to help him deal with his past relationship breakups? That would be ideal for him.

  14. Kim says:

    Hello- well I met this guy and we both instantly had a connection. He’s had a hard past and he got married at 20… He’s now 32 and I’m 25. He told me he told himself he will never allow himself to fall for a woman again. He has told me he likes me so much but he will become distant and I won’t hear from him. He will say things like he’s trying to reach out with his feelings of how he likes me then once I start overwhelming him with my feelings he distances himself more. So I decided to let him be and let him miss me. So time will only tell. I love this man so much and iv been researching a lot on his issues just to try to understand him more.
    Thank u

  15. Laurie says:

    Hi Bryan,

    How would it change your relationship if you told your girlfriend that you love her? I understand that that’s what you’re asking ME, but I’m asking you to think about it slightly differently.

    What difference does it make if she knows you love her?

    In other words, what’s wrong with being in a relationship with her and not telling her you love her? Why do the words need to be said?

  16. Bryan says:

    So I have recently come to the realization that I’m in love with somebody. She is a very guarded person and has explicitly told me that the fastest way for someone to push her away is for them to tell her that they love her. Because of this, I am holding off on telling her for the time being. She has told me that she was raped in the past by her boyfriend at the time and that he treated her very badly. It is also of note that she once told me that she believes I was “sent to [her] by God to restore [her] faith in men,” which is at least a good sign I would assume. She has been very busy lately (or at least that’s what she says) so we haven’t gotten to see each other very much. I’m worried that she might already be pushing away (although she has had seemingly valid excuses for not being able to see me). I’m also worried that she will push away for good if I express my feelings for her. I’ve never had any experience with this sort of issue and I am completely lost as to how to approach this situation. Any advice as to how to proceed would be very greatly appreciated.



  17. Laurie says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Steve. I hope you and she have found a way to be together, and that she’s no longer so scared to love you back!

  18. steve says:

    Thanks Laurie for your kind words, having read the article it certainly gives food for thought, particularly the chase part. I did copy and paste your previous article on itimacy to her with the suggestion we work together with what we had but never got a response. As it has been a month since the split I’m accepting now theres nothing further I can do…Thank you for at least giving me an understanding if nothing else.


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