We all have issues. Some of us are just more honest about it than others. Some of us are aware that we have issues and some of us are deeply in denial. I’m going to share something with you that very few people know about me. I have a fear. A fear that causes me to use a particular defense mechanism because it’s easier than doing anything else. I have a fear of being alone. This fear in most people causes them to always want to be in a relationship even if it is unhealthy, just so that can avoid being by themselves. Since I’m not like other people, in my case, this fear causes me to want to remain single so that I don’t have to be worried about a man leaving me alone.
My entire adult life has been full of men who have abandoned the relationship. They’ve all had reasons that they felt were justified. My son’s father left me because I wouldn’t continue to have a sexual relationship with him while he was in a relationship with another woman. My ex-husband left me because he could no longer abuse me and he was cheating on me with another woman. My ex-fiance had his family plan a wedding for us, then I discovered that he was seeing another woman that he was keeping a secret from his family. One ex-boyfriend told me he didn’t want to marry me because I didn’t make enough money. One man I dated for nearly a year told me that he didn’t want a relationship with me because he wasn’t “ready“. Another ex-boyfriend of mine cheated on me because he said I get too much attention from other men. These are all forms of rejection, abandonment and betrayal that I have experienced over the years and resulted in me to developing this fear. Some people would refer to it as insecurity. It’s not insecurity. Some people would call it baggage. It’s really an instinctual response to protect myself from perceived or potential harm. What I have discovered is that a lot of people have this same fear. We all handle it differently. Some of us lash out at others to drive them away. Some of us hold on to others for dear life. Some of us may decide to remain in solitude because it’s less traumatic than going through break ups.
My fear is resulting in me losing people who I love. I lost a friendship that I value because I am fearful of the friendship developing into a more intimate relationship. My effort to communicate was an epic fail. So, I’m going to see a therapist that specializes in sex, intimacy and relationships. That may seem counterproductive because I’m not in a relationship, but in spite of my fears, I would like to be…one day…before I die…if God willing.
I truly think that there are a lot of good men in the world, I just don’t believe any of them could want a relationship with me. That is a part of my fear. Why did this fear manifest itself and what can be done about it? I don’t know if anything can be done about it, but my goal is to become better at expressing myself and then conquering the fear itself. The fear causes me to hide from the idea of a relationship with a man I love because I’m afraid he will eventually leave me; either for another woman or because he just doesn’t believe me to be worthy of him. I recognize that this fear hinders me in other areas of my life, and in my career. The fear causes me to be withdrawn in social atmospheres because I’m afraid of feeling rejected. The fear causes me to seclude myself because I’m afraid that others will not appreciate or accept me. As I take this journey to conquer my fears, I want to share with you some of the “triggers” that cause people to have a fear of being alone and what you can take into consideration if you’re in a relationship with a person who has these same fears or has trust or abandonment issues – or if you’re in a relationship period.
1. Don’t use the word love if you don’t mean it. Love is an action word, not a stick of gum. When you love someone it’s best to show it to them, more than you say it. Personally, I’d rather have a man who never says he loves me, but shows me everyday with his actions, affections, protection and by claiming me as his woman or wife.
2. Be compassionate. You’re dealing with another human being. They have feelings too. Even if you don’t agree with how they feel, be compassionate towards their feelings and try to gain a better understanding of where it comes from. Everything isn’t always about YOU in the relationship. There’s someone else involved in that relationship as well.
3. Pay attention. If you want a relationship with someone, paying attention to them is necessary. Pay attention to what bothers them, what makes them happy, what makes them sad and how your actions contribute to that. Learn what their likes and dislikes are. No one believes you truly love them if you don’t know anything about them. It’s not logical to us as people. When a person says they love you, but they don’t know your likes and dislikes, favorite color, what makes you sad, your favorite movie or anything else that makes you YOU, you feel like they are playing games with your emotions and you will react as such.
4. Don’t use the relationship as a weapon or method of control. Too many people are always threatening to leave someone if they don’t do what you want them to do. Telling a person you are going to divorce them, leave them or cheat on them is the wrong approach. If you are not happy with that person and you don’t accept and appreciate them for who they are, you should not be in a relationship with them. If you feel it is necessary to use your relationship as a weapon or method of control, you need to seek therapy for yourself. That’s not love. That’s being a bully.
5. Be reliable. Do what you say you will do and be there for the person you love. If a person doesn’t feel that you have their back, they won’t be open with you. If they call you in a time of need and you never answer or show up, they won’t find you reliable. If you value a person in your life, showing you are reliable, and that you have their back and are in their corner will help them feel more comfortable with you and they won’t be guarded and withdrawn.
6. Respect people’s timeframes. Some people believe that they have an eternity to have a relationship with someone. If you aren’t looking to get married until 2035, you should not say the words love, relationship or marriage to someone in the year 2012. It’s misleading. Consider that someone you love may have had a near death experience that makes them want to live every moment like it’s their last. They aren’t going to wait for you to be ready before they live their life to the fullest. You could lose someone because you don’t respect their timeframes and how they want to live their moments in life.
7. Respect the human factor. People make mistakes. Do you prefer someone who can take responsibility for their mistakes or someone who blames everything on everyone else, including you? In a relationship, both people are responsible for that relationship. What you do, say and don’t, will impact the strength and longevity of the relationship. You’re dealing with another human being who has feelings, problems and past experiences. Show concern more than you find fault in them and they will do the same with you. Treat a person the way you want to be treated.
8. Be trustworthy. Don’t expect a person to trust you because of what you say, because you’re not like “other men/women” or because you think they should just trust you “just because”. Trust is earned. Trust is not given. Particularly for people who have experienced betrayal and infidelity. You have to show yourself to be someone a person can trust. See numbers 1 – 9 for ways to accomplish this.
9. Know what a person expects from the a relationship. Understand a person’s views on relationships. This comes from having effective communication with a person, by being honest about your own expectations and by listening to theirs. This also comes from paying attention and showing compassion. You don’t have to agree with the person, but you should be aware of what they want and need out of the relationship. Then you can determine if you are capable of building a relationship with them instead of hurting them later.
10. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. It’s never a good idea to get a person’s hopes up and not follow through. This goes back to being reliable and trustworthy as well. If you over promise and under deliver, you look like a liar. Even if that is not your intention. People will call your character into question if you are “all talk“. If you are going to do something, do it. If something unforeseen prevents you from doing what you said you will, make a phone call, apologize and reschedule for another day or time. You can’t expect a person to keep giving you chances to disappoint them.
11. Don’t communicate in 140 characters or less. As much as I love technology and gadgets, I also hate the effect they have on interpersonal relationships. We’ve gotten so comfortable with not having human interaction that we literally attempt to establish, have and maintain relationships using texting, emailing and social networking. This is not a good foundation for a relationship. Mostly because people have misused these tools in order to do harm to others. When someone constantly experiences meeting men/women on Facebook who are only interested in having sex, and that’s not what that person is looking for, if you met them on Facebook, you can’t expect them to just react differently. They are operating from what they know. They are protecting themselves from harm. You have to show that you are not the same, not just say it. There’s nothing better for solidifying a personal connection than face to face contact with a person. There’s nothing better than being present in their space, inhaling their pheromones, looking into their eyes and hearing the inflection in their voice when they speak. Take the time to get off the internet and get into each other’s personal space.
12. Learn to agree to disagree without anger and animosity. Everyone you meet with not agree with you. If they do, you are doing something wrong. People are entitled to have a difference of opinion. Even if you are extremely compatible with someone else, you will never agree with each other 100% of the time. Learn to express how you feel in a way that doesn’t cause anger or animosity, yet allows you both to speak your minds and have a better understanding of each other. Some people just need to vent. When this occurs they turn towards the person they love and who said they love them. They want that person to be a sounding board. Their outpouring may or may not have anything to do with you directly. They just need you to be there for them and let them be vulnerable.
13. Don’t placate a person. No one in their right mind thinks they are right 100% of the time. A person dealing with abandonment or trust issues, or who has a fear such as mine, wants that one person that will prove them WRONG about how they feel. They don’t want a person agreeing with them to get them to stop talking or to end the disagreement. They want the person they love to be honest with them, tell them and show them that the fear they feel at that moment is not warranted. This doesn’t work if you placate them. It might only make them angrier and cause the already existing issues to escalate out of control.
14. Spend quality time together. Whether you call it quality time, intimate time, quiet time or date night, it’s important for two people who love each other to have time in the same space together to enjoy each other’s company. It doesn’t matter if it’s indoors or out; whether it includes activities or just laying in the bed holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes. Time together between two people builds bonds and strengthens relationships. It allows for a connection to exist and remain. People who have the best and longest lasting relationships are people who spend one on one quality time together and make it a habit to do so on a regular basis.
15. Listen to the person. It is said that we have two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk. If a person says that they have a need from the relationship, listen to them closely and measure if you can meet that need or not. Silly and superficial expectations don’t count. I’m referring to reasonable needs and wants that a person expresses, such as “Honey, I would like for you to help me with the housework more, so we can spend more time together on weekends instead of me cleaning all day.” That’s a reasonable need.
16. Be honest. The biggest issue that causes people to fear being alone, being abandoned or to have trust issues is that the other person they are dealing with is dishonest in some way. Not many people can be honest with themselves, let alone with other people. Sometimes even withholding small bits of information can appear to be dishonest. A person who doesn’t have bad intentions, something to hide or isn’t playing emotional games is more able to be honest, even when it hurts your feelings. At least you will be able to respect them for telling the truth so that you can make an informed decision for yourself.
17. Compromise – The 80/20 Rule. You will only get approximately eighty percent (80%) of your emotional, financial and intimate needs met by the other person in the relationship. You have to be willing to compromise the other twenty percent (20%) and go without those needs or do those things for yourself. Expecting someone outside your relationship to fulfill that 20% is a recipe for disaster. Leaving one woman for another woman because she has a bigger booty or a smaller waistline is fuckery, when the woman you already had at home is a good wife, good mother, good friend and partner to you. Get your priorities in order in your relationship.
18. Give the same level of love that you expect. You reap what you sow. Enough said.
19. Measure the pros and cons. I’ll never forget the scene in “Why Did I Get Married, Too?” when Patricia (Janet Jackson), told Angela (Tasha Smith) and Dianne (Sharon Leal) that they should“write down all the good he’s ever done and all the bad he’s ever done. And if the good outweighs the bad, you need to be big little women and fix it”. Resilience through the hard times is what people want to see that you are capable of. Marriage vows say for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for a reason. Are you the type of person that runs from a problem before you try to fix it? Are you a person who will quickly dismiss someone you say that you love because they did something you dislike or that offended you? This behavior tells a person you don’t think they are “worthy” of you, your time, your attention, your energy or your love and that you are not able to be there for the long haul. It translates into “You’re not good enough for me to stay and work this out.”
20. Be happy. Being happy is a decision. One of my favorite songs is “Be Happy” by Mary J. Blige. When I was going through my divorce it was on heavy rotation. The answer to true happiness lies within yourself. Another individual can not make you happy. It’s not their responsibility to make you happy. They can only enhance your existing happiness. If you’re not already happy with your life, even without being in a relationship, you should reassess if you should be in a relationship at all.
21. Learn to forgive. If you truly love someone and you want them to be your friend or spouse, you must learn to forgive them when they make mistakes in your relationship or fall short of your expectations. No one is perfect. If you think you are perfect, seek therapy for yourself. If your relationship is not abusive, full of addiction, infidelity or anything demeaning or harmful to you, your health or happiness and it’s worth fighting for or saving, the first step is to forgive.
22. Sex ain’t better than love. There’s a difference between physical and emotional intimacy. People desire to be loved, appreciated, respected and acknowledged…outside the bedroom. If you are not capable of this, you should not use the words love or relationship until you are. Emotional intimacy is the most valuable type of intimacy between two people. It means that they trust each other, are reliable, communicate effectively, know each other well, and have the other building blocks necessary for having a healthy relationship.
Look at a relationship like a tree. Trees have to be planted. The tree has roots that develop into a trunk, which sprouts branches, and grow leaves or fruit. If your roots are weak, your tree won’t be strong, your branches will be limp and your tree won’t bear fruit. And if it does manage to bear fruit, the fruit will be rotten to the core. Take responsibility for your actions or inactions in your relationships and make an attempt to grow. If you love someone, truly love them, and they have fears of being alone, have trust or abandonment issues, make an attempt to work through their issues with them before you walk away. You could be that one person that teaches them how to love and makes a difference in their life.
~ Love is the strongest element on Earth. It can heal a broken heart, rescue a lost soul or it can be used to destroy.