Relationship Anxiety: Taking the Risk
I am not the type to be in a relationship, often. It's a rare occurrence. I don't really date in the typical sense, either. The concept of dating strangers never appealed to me. I would rather enter a relationship with a long-term friend after our platonic bond takes a turn towards romantic than attempt an intimate trust with someone I barely know. I seldom fall in love, and I prefer it that way.
How much anxiety do you experience with relationships?
My first ever "relationship" in high school was when I was a Freshman. The details are not important, but let's just say the guy was more interested in my friend, and subconsciously I knew it wasn't the best idea to take him up on his offer to date. Instead of dealing with it head on, it came out through tidal waves of anxiety every moment I saw him. And I saw him between classes. So, while most teenagers would be excited to see their new boyfriend in the hallways, I was afraid each time he hugged me. By the end of the week, I was trying not to pass out from dizziness while breaking up with him before excusing myself to the nurse so I could go home with a panic attack. Once in the car with my mom, she told me, "You know this is because [your friend/his ex] has been flirting with him right in front of you all week, trying to get him back, right?" Like I said, had I dealt with it head on, I probably wouldn't have been quite as ill during my first ever experience as someone's girlfriend.
If you read my articles or know me, you know that marriage is not my thing, but committed relationships are; therefore, I am more serious when choosing a relationship partner. Perhaps, then, it should come as no surprise that anxiety has always come with my commitments. It's not due to a fear of commitment itself, but rather a fear of how it will turn out. How will my partner treat me in the end? How long will it last? How long will we be happy? How long will they keep the promises they make? I acknowledge that none of this makes sense to worry about considering it is entirely out of my control. All I can do is choose: Do I want to try this or should I give up before it has a chance? Which choice can't I live with? Okay, go with the other.
Regret vs. Loss
For some, regret is preferred to the pain that comes from loss. I don't share this outlook. I know regret. I know what it's like to fear regret compared to the actual experience of it when I thought I wouldn't have the chance to be with someone. In some of these cases, they knew I wanted to date them, but they still refused in which case there was nothing I could do. In a few others, it was my job to tell them how I really felt, regardless of how afraid I was. For the most part, rejection followed, from which I soon recovered. On the very rare occasion, they realized they wanted to be with me, too.
How Does it End?
Like me, my brother is not one for marriage, either, but is obviously for long-term serious relationships. I remember watching the end of Ever After and he made a comment about how movies always end right as everyone is so happy because life doesn't actually work out that perfectly. Since I agree, it may confuse people to know how many marriage-themed movies I enjoy. The message is this believed ongoing dedication of love, yet we the audience never know how it really ends:
Danielle: You, sir, are supposed to be charming.
Henry: And we, princess, are supposed to live happily ever after.
Danielle: Says who?
Henry: You know, I don't know.
[if interested in my Ever After analysis film review please click here]
Do you agree that love is worth the risk?
I am reminded of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past which takes from the story A Christmas Carol about the choices we make and the legacy we leave behind. Our Scrooge character, Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey), comes to the realization that regret from walking away from love is far worse than everything that he fears potentially happening to or with the one he loves. He convinces his brother's fiance not to walk out on the wedding because she's afraid of the unknown. I think the speech can be applied to anyone afraid to enter a relationship that has every logical reason necessary to be entered into.
Connor Mead: You've got to risk love, Sandra! I didn't and look at me! I'm a lonely ghost of a man. It doesn't mean that you're never going to get hurt, but the pain you feel will never compare to the regret that comes from walking away from love. And from someone who's felt a lot of both, trust me, pain beats regret every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Don't run away. Don't do it.
Do you remember your own value regardless of your relationship status?
Keep Loving Yourself
One of my favorite books to read when I need to remind myself of my own worth is A Goddess is a Girl's Best Friend by Laurie Sue Brockway. I'm pagan, so the book is particular special to me as it goes through many Goddesses, individually, explaining how you can call upon them for help in specific areas of your life; however, I feel even non-pagans can benefit from its messages. Chapter 10 focuses on Venus, the Roman Goddess of love. She is not only about relationships with others, but also self-love. Calling upon Her means learning to love yourself, as well.
The last time I had my heart broken and worried I may never recover, I made sure to remember to maintain self-love during the healing process. This is essential for everyone, single or in a relationship. If you're reading this and feeling anxious about entering a relationship because you don't want to lose sight of your own self worth, make little reminders for yourself to keep that relationship with yourself in check. If you do this, no matter what happens, you are going to be fine because of it.
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