7 Reasons Most People are Afraid of Love

why most people are afraid of loveWhat keeps us from finding and keeping the love we say we want?

Around this time last year, Virgin Mobile USA proclaimed Feb. 13 to be “National Breakup Day.” They did so after conducting a survey in which 59 percent of people said that if they were looking to end their relationship, they would hypothetically do so before Valentine’s Day to save money. The beginning of the year is often said to see a spike in couple splits, with various sources claiming that January hosts most divorce filings and couple separations. You may even have heard it referred to as “National Breakup Month.” In this so-called breakup season, we may be unfortunate enough to witness once-happy couples splitting up left and right, or we may recount our own painful parting from a partner we once loved.

No matter what the timeline, the story of lost love is one most of us can tell. This leaves the question “why do relationships fail?” to linger heavily in the back of our minds. The answer for many of us can be found within. Whether we know it or not, most of us are afraid of really being in love. While our fears may manifest themselves in different ways or show themselves at different stages of a relationship, we all harbor defenses that we believe on some level will protect us from getting hurt. These defenses may offer us a false illusion of safety or security, but they keep us from attaining the closeness we most desire. So what drives our fears of intimacy? What keeps us from finding and keeping the love we say we want?

1. Real love makes us feel vulnerable. A new relationship is uncharted territory, and most of us have natural fears of the unknown. Letting ourselves fall in love means taking a real risk. We are placing a great amount of trust in another person, allowing them to affect us, which makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. Our core defenses are challenged. Any habits we’ve long had that allow us to feel self-focused or self-contained start to fall by the wayside. We tend to believe that the more we care, the more we can get hurt.

2. New love stirs up past hurts. When we enter into a relationship, we are rarely fully aware of how we’ve been impacted by our history. The ways we were hurt in previous relationships, starting from our childhood, have a strong influence on how we perceive the people we get close to as well as how we act in our romantic relationships. Old, negative dynamics may make us wary of opening ourselves up to someone new. We may steer away from intimacy, because it stirs up old feelings of hurt, loss, anger or rejection. As Dr. Pat Love said in an interview with PsychAlive, “when you long for something, like love, it becomes associated with pain,” the pain you felt at not having it in the past.

3. Love challenges an old identity. Many of us struggle with underlying feelings of being unlovable. We have trouble feeling our own value and believing anyone could really care for us. We all have a “critical inner voice,” which acts like a cruel coach inside our heads that tells us we are worthless or undeserving of happiness. This coach is shaped from painful childhood experiences and critical attitudes we were exposed to early in life as well as feelings our parents had about themselves.

While these attitudes can be hurtful, over time, they have become engrained in us. As adults, we may fail to see them as an enemy, instead accepting their destructive point of view as our own. These critical thoughts or “inner voices” are often harmful and unpleasant, but they’re also comfortable in their familiarity. When another person sees us differently from our voices, loving and appreciating us, we may actually start to feel uncomfortable and defensive, as it challenges these long-held points of identification.

4. With real joy comes real pain. Any time we fully experience true joy or feel the preciousness of life on an emotional level, we can expect to feel a great amount of sadness. Many of us shy away from the things that would make us happiest, because they also make us feel pain. The opposite is also true. We cannot selectively numb ourselves to sadness without numbing ourselves to joy. When it comes to falling in love, we may be hesitant to go “all in,” for fear of the sadness it would stir up in us.

5. Love is often unequal. Many people I’ve talked to have expressed hesitation over getting involved with someone, because that person “likes them too much.” They worry that if they got involved with this person, their own feelings wouldn’t evolve, and the other person would wind up getting hurt or feeling rejected. The truth is that love is often imbalanced, with one person feeling more or less from moment to moment. Our feelings toward someone are an ever-changing force. In a matter of seconds, we can feel anger, irritation or even hate for a person we love. Worrying over how we will feel keeps us from seeing where our feelings would naturally go. It’s better to be open to how our feelings develop over time. Allowing worry or guilt over how we may or may not feel keeps us from getting to know someone who is expressing interest in us and may prevent us from forming a relationship that could really make us happy.

6. Relationships can break your connection to your family. Relationships can be the ultimate symbol of growing up. They represent starting our own lives as independent, autonomous individuals. This development can also represent a parting from our family. Much like breaking from an old identity, this separation isn’t physical. It doesn’t mean literally giving up our family, but rather letting go on an emotional level – no longer feeling like a kid and differentiating from the more negative dynamics that plagued our early relationships and shaped our identity.

7. Love stirs up existential fears. The more we have, the more we have to lose. The more someone means to us, the more afraid we are of losing that person. When we fall in love, we not only face the fear of losing our partner, but we become more aware of our mortality. Our life now holds more value and meaning, so the thought of losing it becomes more frightening. In an attempt to cover over this fear, we may focus on more superficial concerns, pick fights with our partner or, in extreme cases, completely give up the relationship. We are rarely fully aware of how we defend against these existential fears. We may even try to rationalize to ourselves a million reasons we shouldn’t be in the relationship. However, the reasons we give may have workable solutions, and what’s really driving us are those deeper fears of loss.

Most relationships bring up an onslaught of challenges. Getting to know our fears of intimacy and how they inform our behavior is an important step to having a fulfilling, long-term relationship. These fears can be masked by various justifications for why things aren’t working out, however we may be surprised to learn about all of the ways that we self-sabotage when getting close to someone else. This is one of the subjects I will address in the upcoming eCourse “Creating Your Ideal Relationship.” By getting to know ourselves, we give ourselves the best chance of finding and maintaining lasting love.

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About the Author

Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. Dr. Lisa Firestone is the Director of Research and Education at The Glendon Association. An accomplished and much requested lecturer, Dr. Firestone speaks at national and international conferences in the areas of couple relations, parenting, and suicide and violence prevention. Dr. Firestone has published numerous professional articles, and most recently was the co-author of Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships (APA Books, 2006), Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice (New Harbinger, 2002), Creating a Life of Meaning and Compassion: The Wisdom of Psychotherapy (APA Books, 2003) and The Self Under Siege (Routledge, 2012).Follow Dr. Firestone on Twitter or Google.

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One day after saying yes to dating a really nice guy I abruptly ended it. As we were sitting together he made a statement that he could stay with me forever “like this” cuddling. I freaked! It scared the crap out of me and I didn’t know why and to a degree still don’t. I think after being married for 20 yrs (separated/divorced 3.5yrs) I’m scared to death of being hurt although I want to have a LTR but I don’t know how to move on especially since he wants to be back in my life after 2.5 mths of being gone….and I want him back…just don’t want to put him nor me on a roller coaster ride. This article says a lot and has given good explanation on why I may be sabotaging it….now onto how to handle it. :-/

Valbona Haxha


tell him what you just told us. Express your thoughts and feelings to him so that he is aware. Let’s say that he “understands,” but later down the line he uses your “vulnerability.” I say, so what? You took the initiative to tell him the truth, and it’s great to find out that the other person was not sincere in the relationship. In the end, what really matters is knowing yourself and that you tried your best at being a good person who is only human and trying to live a well life. People will always hurt themselves or others, and that is something we can’t change. What we can change is ourselves and what is within because you’ll be standing with a whole, beautiful heart and they’ll be standing with a question mark in their heart. Good luck!


I’ve experienced romantic love twice. Both times it was so stressful and emasculating. They were so unrelenting in their criticism. They made me feel so bad, what tiny self worth I had disappeared altogether. They constantly expected me to solve all of their problems- they wanted me to take responsibility for everything. How could I do this when they made me feel so terrible? How can I solve any problems when they have stripped me of my confidence? When I stood up for myself I would be met with violence. In fact I would be met with violence when I didn’t. I am very old now and I have never been loved by a woman. I am a peaceful caring man I would sooner cut off my hands than hit a woman but the violent men I have known have woman dripping off them. I am physically unattractive but I deserve better. Or do I? I know that entering into another relationship will the start of another descent into hell.


This was a nice description of the problem faced in your relationship . I was critical to my partner as well for not taking responsibility . I wanted her yo share my problems which she wasn’t. Well she left ME. I have suffered though hell to accept that she doesn’t love Me no more .


I ended up on this article because I’m trying to make sense of the emotional crisis I’m in, two months into what is supposed to be a happy new relationship. Jules comment, written almost three years ago, touched my heart… I wish the world was’nt about physical attractiveness. I wish he could meet a sensible, kindhearted, loving and insightful woman who saw what precious soul he is. Who could tell him; “Of course you deserve better, darling”. And who proved it. That together they proved that entering into another relationship will not be the start of another descent into hell. And I wish the same for myself.


My thing is that I attract the wrong men into my life.
Im so bitter about the bad treatment that I don’t even know when someone is being genuine or not.
Bc I want to feel love and affection any guy that comes my way and gives me good attention, I fall for but sooner or later Ihe hurts me.
Like currently I like a guy who is dating someone else and bc he gives me attention ( even tho he ignores me at times and treats me like a slut) I just focus on when he does treat me well and ignore the bad. I know I should love myself to walk away but I feel that I crave feeling wanted and love. I’ve been single (no relationship ) for 6 years.

I’m attractive fit, classy and independent but I can’t find anyone to value me and be genuine. 🙁

My ex dumped me after promising me the world and showing me so much love and attention. He even told his parents that he loved me and wanted to marry me. Then without notice he’s dump me and said that he set the expectations too high

It hasn’t been the same ever

What’s wrong with me.


Hurt and betrayed by someone who said they love you but proven that he was not genuine


Instead of asking what’s wrong with you, maybe think about what is wrong with him! Just out of the blue, he feels this way then gives a vague explanation?! Think it’s him that has the problem not you. It’s just not meant to be, be thankful for not spending 10years w someone to only find out they don’t even know what they want!


What is wrong with you, is that you are asking what is wrong with you! Nothing is the answer to your question. When you accept the fact that you’re not responsible for his behavior, only your own behavior; it will be easier to deal with that. Why he treats you badly is simple, you let him. He dates you and someone else because of his own insecurities. When you realize that a man cheating has nothing to do with you not being good enough or that you are in some way not valued, and it has everything to do with him not feeling good enough for you so he has to boost his ego with attention from others. You will see your own self worth. What is wrong is you are taking his insecurities (by evidence of how he treats you), and projecting them on to yourself. Value yourself, show your worth to yourself. The rest of the world will see it and believe it, and respect it. If you don’t love, value, and respect yourself how do you expect others to. You are worthy! God created you, Jesus died for you. You are already loved without limits by God. Hop on board. The right person will follow. God bless.

Jerry p

The gal I love and care for has pushed me so far away and what makes it awkward is thst we work together. We’re civilized but she rarely talks to me. She’s really guarded herself even with coworkers
Hate to say it but only friendships that seem superficial are appealing to her. It truly breaks my heart for her..
She’s told me when we dated that commitment really scares her.. mostly because of a verbally abusive relationship to a guy she was to marry. I told her that her fears and such didn’t scare me. I think that in itself scared her.
She once told my best friend that his fiance needed him to be there for her, encourage her and be consistent. I feel that came from.a deep place for her.. she ignored me for 2 months and admitted that she was wrong for that but my love and care for her scared her. We agreed to take it very very very slow. Within a week she shut out again. Became very ugly, short, rude, etcetera. My guess. She hates that I see the good in her and she’s hell bent to prove me other wise. She’s a pain in my ass but I love her with out condition.. I try, at least. I’ve never been so puzzled in my life. ..
Sorry. I’m a rambling man.



I never been in a relationship, never wanted to. In school I thought having a relationship is too childish or immature and later on I never talked or conversed enough with the guys to see if i like them. I always categorize them into simple friends or in the brotherly status relationship. i feel better that way. Not being in a relationship never bothered me. Btw, i should mention that I’m an Indian. Wedding are sacred in my community and of course should be done in a timely manner. I’m 29 now, without being in single relationship and never had any inclination towards it. My family decided to find a guy for me. Its common in Indian community. I met him but i still don’t feel anything. i talked to him, he seems good and have reading habit just like me. But i still can’t decide, it has been only a few days since i met him and my family wants me to give them a reply. a good one. i can’t seem to get the relationship idea… i feel is scared and threatened into something i might not like. I don’t know what to do.


Tell them the truth..that you are not ready…they won’t understand it .I know: I’m indian -well indo fijian…there’s going to be parents grandparents relatives that you barley know all up in it telling you what is best for you…you obviously understand if you get married to this guy it’s not going to work out…for arranged marriage to work out both parties have to have an understanding of the unknown and be open to it. So tell the truth make your intentions clear so that there is no doubt with family and as well as the other party involved..if he understands you he will do his part from his side to help..if he pushes you to get married than me personally I would run…it will take courage to this considering that indian families are so traditional and easily influenced by outsider BS…I feel like I’m ranting now..


I’m currently at a point of fear for this guy who is really taking the time to nurture and love me. He makes me want to be in a relationship, he makes me want to be love – though in a state of fear. We were friends in high school for 3 years and in that 3 years we stared developing feelings for one another, after the 3 years we somehow lost connection for 6 years. This year we reconnected and I realise that he brings out the best in me, he makes me want to face my fears, like, he gives me that courage especially when I see the way he handles himself . Somehow, though, everytime he tries to get closer to my heart and actually learning something about me I pull back. I’ve been to his house before quite a few times but now I’m fearful to go because he wants us to take what we have to mother level. I know it sounds childish – but the reason for my fear of going is because he wants us to kiss, and I know if that can happen I putting my heart in his hands and I am trusting him completely to be faithful and loyal and that I do not need to worry about how he will treat me and take care of me. I’m trying to stay away from him but I can’t because of what it is that I feel in my heart. When in away from him for 2/3 days I already start thinking, smiling and missing him. I really like this guy and the best he brings out in me but I am afraid and afraid as well that I may lose him for staying away and pushing him away with my actions and words. In just cared because I believe we can have something good together for long but I’m afraid to give everything only to find that’s not the way it’s suppose to be – the “together for long” HELP PLEASE


This is what’s currently happening to me. Toooo scared. My love runs deeper and deeper and I’m getting scared though he’s everthing that’s good as a man. I freak out because of a kiss. Because of too much feelings, etc. I understand nothing. Why is this?


A few months ago I went through one of the hardest break ups of my life. In the process it caused me to lose 6 close friends and I lost myself. The guy used me for sex, would hit me, would tell me so many insulting things, make me feel stupid for trying to be loving and caring, and he cheated on me with 5 other girls. I ended up moving to a different state to try and forget about it. In that process I met a nice guy. Who is definitely an upgrade from the last one. He treats me with respect and is down to earth. But I’m scared to love again. I’m scared to be with someone again. What do I do? Do I tell him how I feel? I’ve thought about it, but I’m afraid he’ll think I’m stupid or something. I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me.


I do agree at some extent. But can’t agree with all the reasons. It can be true that relationship break connection with family. But, it’s not necessary, there are lot of examples around us who are in relationship but have a nice relationship with family as well.


You are afraid of falling in love. Something you never thought would happen and never have experienced. Because she comes with flaws, packages and imperfections yet you see right through it and fell for her. You’ve found an angel ??, someone who loves and care for you like no other. But you were young and too afraid of commitment that you let it go without thought. You may never find anyone else like her in life ? Its hard to find someone who’s down for you like how she always have. But you broke her ? and now shes looking for love in all the wrong places. And you’re alone hoping to find someone like her, who’s perfect. But you will never find a loving human being too busy loving you that she forgets to love herself.

The Truth Is

A very totally different time that we live in now which finding love in the past was much easier. Today not so easy.


Umm…the is other guy that has Interest in me and he told me that he loves me. Now he wants an answer. I do love him but I want us to talk face to face and not on the phone. Because of my last relationship ,we started dating on the phone and we never talked face to face. There was no communication so I dnt want that to happen. So now I’m confused cause I dnt knw what to tell him. Yes or No
Please help


To whoever is reading this comment,

I like this girl, we went out for coffee. I found out things I really like about this person. She’s down to earth, family-oriented, and even has a sense of responsibility. I asked her if she’d go on an actual date with me; she agreed. As happy as I am with her saying yes, I’m also scared. Its not the fear that she might leave me or anything, its more so the fear of me breaking her heart. I’m not sure if I’m just overthinking it, but if anyone can give me advice it will be greatly appreciated.


Just a comment of appreciation for this article! It has concise points and relatable descriptions that make the points understandable and recognizable. I stumbled upon it in the most unusual fashion but I am thankful I opened it up and gave it a read. I can see how many key points within this article actually apply to my new relationship. Thank you for your well written article!


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