The wounds of a failed relationship can leave you scared and ambivalent about dating again, terrified of going through the pain and suffering of a breakup all over again if the next relationship doesn't work. Facing your fears about intimacy will help you be more relaxed and successful in your future relationships.
Address Your Fears
Fear often leads you to see things differently from what they really are. A study published in the November 2012 issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that individuals with insecure attachments perceived social interactions with potential partners as threatening, while those with secure attachments perceived them as rewarding. If you're feeling ambivalent or scared of starting a new relationship, it is important to identify where these feelings are coming from. Ask yourself what you are afraid of. Do you fear abandonment, disappointment, failure, lack of control or loving somebody else? Pinpoint the root of your fear and give it a name. Identifying the source can help you realize if your fear is rational, which can help you know where to start in overcoming your fear.
Identify Unconscious Behaviors
Your underlying fears can find their way into your relationships through unconscious behaviors. People who are afraid of intimacy often sabotage their relationships without realizing it. If you have a hard time trusting people, you might be discouraging potential love interests with your guarded behavior. Notice if you have a hard time opening up to others, are always doubting their honesty or if you push people away when they try to get physically close. Some people mask their fear of intimacy by engaging in casual relationships that are only about the sex or having fun without allowing them to become too serious. When you become conscious of your behaviors, you can work on negating the negative ones and encouraging the positive ones.
Live In the Present
Dating is supposed to be about having fun and enjoying yourself. Don't ruin the fun by stressing about the future. When someone asks you out on a date, consider it a casual night out rather than immediately thinking about the future or the things it can lead to. During a date, stay focused on the moment and the conversation. Avoid letting your mind wander to over-analyzing your date or wondering if this is a failed relationship in the making. Your date will also appreciate you more if you are relaxed and engaged throughout the night.
Take It Slow
Make sure you give yourself enough time to get back on your feet after a failed relationship. Regardless of what other people tell you, you don't have to pressure yourself to get into a new relationship. Like with any other fear or phobia, you need to face your fear of intimacy slowly. Start out by getting to know potential love interests as friends. Once you start feeling comfortable, you can slowly ease into more formal dating. Eventually finding someone that you really like who makes you feel comfortable will make starting a new relationship seem less scary and impossible and it will help you focus on the positives of your relationship rather than potential problems down the road.
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