For a relationship to be balanced, partners must be able to depend on one another and feel they are needed and appreciated for support they give. If they have been let down in the past, the prospect of needing someone can be frightening. Women with a fear of depending on their partner usually aren’t aware of it. Often they complain that their partner is not meeting their needs.
Many women who are fearful of love fall into one of two categories. They are either fiercely independent, or become enmeshed with their partners and constantly look to them for approval. Our society prizes independence and it’s encouraged in divorced or high-conflict families when parents are preoccupied with their own issues. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with working hard and becoming self-sufficient. But at its root, ultra self-reliance is about fear of being vulnerable.
Take a moment to consider that you might be sabotaging relationship after relationship if you don’t get beyond your fear of being vulnerable. Your fear of showing weakness or exposing yourself to others, for instance, might be preventing you from being totally engaged in an intimate relationship. You may be freezing out the opportunity for love because you are fearful of sharing your inner most thoughts, feelings, and wishes.
Do you find yourself falling into one or all of the following relationship patterns?
• Being attracted to partners who want different things from a relationship or have values that are at odds with yours?
• Ignoring red flags such as dishonesty, possessiveness, or jealous tendencies in a partner?
• Staying in a relationship too long even when you or important people in your life observe that you seem unhappy or feel mistrustful of your partner?
• Pursuing a partner who is distant or overly dependent on you even though you know deep down inside that they will never meet your emotional needs?
It is often hard to decipher whether self-reliance is positive or negative. However, becoming more conscious of your partner’s needs and how they mesh with your own is critical to developing lasting love. This awareness can lead to mutual understanding and interdependence.
4 Steps to Achieving Interdependence and Intimacy
While all relationships present us with risks, they are risks worth taking. The following steps will guide you on your journey to being vulnerable and intimate with a partner:
• Challenge your beliefs and self-defeating thoughts about accepting nurturing and support from your partner. You will probably have to resist the urge to be overly independent around hot-button issues such as money, work, or family matters – like where you might celebrate holidays or go on vacations.
• Visualize yourself in an honest and open relationship and work toward allowing yourself to be more vulnerable with your partner – let him or her nurture you. Vulnerability is a critical aspect of intimacy.
• Remind yourself daily that it’s healthy to accept help from others and a sign of strength rather than weakness. Developing interdependence with a partner will allow you to become more intimate with them. Don’t let your fear of rejection stop you from achieving trusting, intimate relationships. You must let others in and embrace the idea that you don’t have to go through life alone.
Taking ownership of your own unhealthy patterns that prevent you from true intimacy is crucial to achieving long-lasting love. Healthy partnerships are within reach if you let go of fear and believe you are worthy of love and all the gifts it has to offer. I wish you the best along your journey to find love, interdependence, peace, and happiness.
Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry