A Jewish Matchmaker asks, could fear be holding you back?

I have spoken with thousands of singles over the decade-plus that I’ve been a matchmaker and I’ve read just as many single’s profiles describing what they seek in a partner, and if there is one deduction I can make without hesitation, it is that the more criteria one has for what their perfect partner should think, do, say, look like, and eat – the more afraid the person is of love.

Love is arguably one of the most powerful emotions a human being can feel- and there are many reasons why a person may be afraid to let themselves experience it, particularly if he/she has been hurt by the failure of a previous relationship. It is no exaggeration to say that being in a loving relationship triggers a lot of chemical responses in the body that can rival drug addiction, and a breakup often has symptoms of drug withdrawal. If the breakup was particularly painful, it can leave an emotional wound that we will do almost anything to avoid feeling.

If you suspect that your inability to “find the right partner” may actually be due to your own fear of love, read over some of the reasons why people might fear love to see if you recognize yourself. If you suspect that fear may be holding you back from the love you seek, it may be worth talking with a therapist or counselor with whom you can work through your fears and let yourself love again.

Fear of being vulnerable: If you are afraid of getting hurt, letting yourself love again is terrifying. There is no emotion that makes us feel more vulnerable than declaring that we are hook, line, and sinker in deep for another person. Love is risky business and there are no guarantees that what you are feeling for each other right now is going to last. We like to think there are guarantees- we promise to love each other forever, and in marriage, we commit to staying together for life- but deep inside we know there are no guarantees and this scares us to death. Most of us are stability seekers and once you’ve been burned at love, you realize that there is no stability. For some people, the fear of losing love is enough to keep them from letting themselves feel it.

Fear of reliving the past: This is a biggie. Sooooooo many people come out of a failed relationship swearing that they will never make the same mistake again, and they proceed to analyze every word and deed of a potential mate just looking for a sign that he/she might exhibit the same painful behavior as the last failed relationship. This is usually taken to the extreme so that the new partner begins to feel as if he/she is “paying” for the sins of the previous partner. Sometimes it takes the strange twist of “avoidance”, where a scenario was so painful in a past relationship that the possibility of it ever happening in a new relationship is completely eliminated. An example of this would be a woman who now refuses to date a man with children, because she has a terrible relationship with the daughter of her previous partner.

Fear of losing oneself: People who don’t have strong boundaries in place can often feel smothered in a loving relationship. They lose their sense of identity and feeling of individuality as they mold themselves to suit their partner. When you are in a relationship with another person, compromises are made, space is relinquished, and some autonomy is lost. For many people, this is a scary proposition- particularly if he/she has difficulty with standing their ground or claiming their space. Healthy boundaries are a crucial component of a healthy love relationship and one of the best ways to ensure that your personal identity won’t get lost in coupledom.

Fear of the unrequited: One of the biggest fears people experience with allowing themselves to love another is the fear of not being loved in return. It can be devastating to open your heart and your soul up to another person only to find that all the intense emotion you are experiencing is one-sided. Or the very real possibility that you will let someone into your world and they will eventually choose to no longer be a part of it. Yes, rejection hurts and the hurt is even deeper if it comes after sharing part of your life with someone and putting all your hopes and dreams in the belief that all the things you are feeling are being felt by the other person, and that both of you have a shared vision of togetherness. It can hurt like hell to be the only one feeling those intense emotions and that fear is often strong enough to prevent the expression of genuine love.

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