I’m Scared To Death Of Vulnerability

I’m totally comfortable talking about my fear of a relationship failing, but what about my fear of a relationship actually working out? This idea is just as scary, if not more so because there’s so much at stake. Here are some reasons I’m also terribly afraid of relationship success.

  1. I’m more comfortable with the devils I know, which are unsuccessful relationships. I have a history of toxic relationships. I’ve been the toxic person and I’ve attracted toxic people. My long-term relationships were tremendously unhealthy and the shorter-lived ones were where we realized we just weren’t compatible. Although I don’t want to relive any of these experiences, the pattern of relationships not working out is strangely comforting to me. It’s sort of like a cocoon that I’ve outgrown. I’m supposed to be a butterfly, but I want to keep crawling back into my shell.
  2. Vulnerability is scary. Brene Brown is one of my favorite experts on vulnerability. In her book, Daring Greatly, she writes: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Awesome, we get all of these lovely outcomes from being vulnerable. But, taking this leap to get there is also absolutely terrifying.
  3. I’m afraid I’ll be drowned by my feelings of jealousy, anger, and frustration.
    I have a better grasp of my emotions when the relationship is still in its infancy or when it’s not working out. I can brush aside my jealousy and handle my anger better. However, if I’m fully in a relationship that seems to be going really well, all of these feelings get over-exaggerated. Love shakes up all my stuff and I’d really have to face everything if the relationship was successful.
  4. My flaws are inevitably going to show themselves. In the early stages of a relationship, I can manage to keep most of my messy flaws tucked away. However, when a relationship starts to get more serious, all of me really comes out whether I like it or not. I may have an off day and say something rude because I’m hangry. Or, my insecurities will surface and I’ll act like a brat. I’ve only ever had experiences where this started to happen and one of us ran the other direction. I’ve never been with someone where we tried to work things out in a healthy way. I’m scared that people will only ever run away!
  5. I have a messy past that is stirred up easily. With a slew of chaotic relationships in my past, it’s pretty easy to trigger me. When I experience the fear of abandonment from a current partner, this emotion carries the weight from all abandonments (real or imagined) from my entire life. I fear that being in a long-term relationship will open up so many cans of worms that I’ll go insane. I know I can handle more than I think, but the fear of trauma and being re-triggered feels very real.
  6. Relationships are a ton of work. Since I haven’t had any good relationships in my past, I wonder what did matters anyways? I think what this fear is really about is that I won’t be able to do all of the work that goes into a relationship. I’m terrified to be crushed by the weight of having to be a contributing half.
  7. I’d have something very real to lose. Of course, I regularly dream about having a fairytale romance with someone I love. When it comes down to it, though, this reality terrifies me. If I did really fall in love with someone who felt like a good match, it’s possible that they could leave me. I’m scared that we’d build this beautiful relationship and then the rug would be torn out from under my feet. Having someone that means the world to me means that I could also lose them.
  8. The single-life perks would disappear.I’ve mostly spent the last few years being single and I’ve grown to be very comforted by this lifestyle. I have a full life that is my own. I never have to run anything by another person and I have control over how I use my time. I even have my bed and my apartment to myself. I can also flirt with whoever I want. In many ways, single life is a ton of fun. A relationship working out means that I’d let go of these perks in exchange for some new ones, but also some downfalls.
  9. I’ve finally accepted that I might be single forever. It took a very long time, but I’m content with being by myself. I’ve made peace with the fact that I may make it through my whole life without finding someone. Of course, I don’t love that idea, but accepting it has brought me great freedom.
  10. A successful relationship is uncharted territory for me. I’m not a total masochist, a big part of me craves true connection with another human being. I desire intimacy and to build a life with another person. It’s just that the whole experience of building a healthy relationship together is uncharted waters for me. It’s very new and scary, but I’d definitely be willing to give it a try if the right person came along.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at ginelletesta.com.