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I’m not your usual reader, I’m 18 and I’m not looking for a serious relationship. In fact my problem seems to be the polar opposite of most that I have read. I am terrified of relationships! I would love a partner, but no matter how interested I am in someone, as soon as my feelings are reciprocated, I lose all interest. I always thought I was just fickle, and I would grow out of it, but I’ve come to realise it’s more than that. I am subconsciously ‘putting myself off’ as, I believe, I’m mentally scared remembering my dad’s countless infidelities and the heartbreak it caused my mother, convinced I will be hurt the same way.

 

I began counseling, but then a friend of mine (who I’ve always been interested in) made it clear it was mutual. For once, I wasn’t terrified , which I think is because we live 250 miles apart. I went out on a date with him a few weeks ago. It went great, he’s made it clear he’s very interested and that he is prepared to wait for me. He’s been ringing me on a daily basis, and I’m managing to overcome my urge to run for the hills, but I think it’s because of the distance. (I’m already in the metaphorical hills so I have no need to run.)

I’m dreading seeing him again! I’m worried I will revert back to my old ways and end up hurting him. Not to mention the fact that he will be expecting me to stay at his place, expecting sex and, as usual, I have ‘put myself off’ him: I no longer find him attractive. I really don’t know what to do. I think the only way I will ever deal with my problem is by forcing myself to bite the bullet and get into a relationship, but we live so far apart I will hardly ever see him and he seems really interested. I don’t want to use him as my guinea pig and ultimately hurt him. Should I force myself into this relationship (surely it can’t work out) but will I ever deal with commitment?

 

Bryony

Thank you, Bryony, for saying so eloquently what many women three times your age have great trouble expressing.

“Why even bother to get into a relationship if I have the potential to get hurt?”

What could be safer than being alone and not letting anyone in?

This is something I confront every week as a dating coach, with a handful of clients who pay top dollar to not do anything different than they did when they signed up.

Why? Because change is scary. It’s uncomfortable. And if you actually get your money’s worth with me, you can very well find yourself in love.

What could be more vulnerable than being in love with a man who can hurt you?

What could be safer than being alone and not letting anyone in?

Armed with that logic, you focus more and more energy on your career, your spiritual growth, your friends, your pets, your travel, your hobbies…

And wake up one day to realize that you are alone.

You’re not just alone, you’re lonely.

Sure, you’ve provided many distractions for your life — there’s not a second on your calendar that’s not filled by something — but it’s a frantic energy that serves one main purpose, which you’ve never truly acknowledged out loud.

Being busy allows you to not face your own loneliness.

That’s when women call me — when staying safe and busy is no longer enough to mask the wish that you had a man to wrap his warm arms around you at the end of a long day.

Your problem, Bryony, and the problem with any woman who protects her heart by remaining alone, is that you’re letting fear run your life.

Playing it safe only means one thing: you’ll be playing alone for the rest of your life.

Here is a question I ask some of my clients that I’d like you to ask yourself:

Are you a pleasure-seeker or a pain-avoider?

Pleasure seekers sign up for multiple online dating sites. They go on dates every week. They say yes to set ups from friends. They know there are happy marriages out there and will do anything in their power to be a part of one.

Pain-avoiders play it safe. They say “love happens when you least expect it.” They take solace in their independence. They claim they’ll “never settle”. And they don’t — because if they did, some man would have the key to their heart and the potential to break it.

So, who’s more likely to find true love?

The answer, I believe, is clear.

A pleasure seeker will find love eventually because she’s open to love, she’s making an effort for love, and it’s just a matter of time until she finds it. She may have a few more bumps and bruises along the way — that’s what happens when you’re dating prolifically — but it all pays off in the end when she can sit in her backyard with her husband and kids.

A pain avoider can only find love if she’s virtually struck by lightning. She dates infrequently, trusts no one, and has issues around men that the healthiest men won’t want to have to fight thru. Then she complains that there are no good men out there. It’s the definition of a self-fulfilling prophesy if there ever was one.

This video that I made for the launch of Why He Disappeared provides further insight into this phenomenon, with one vary salient point.

If you build walls or stay single to keep men from hurting you as you’ve been hurt before, you need to believe me when I tell you:

You’re not protecting yourself from bad men, you’re protecting yourself from love.

True love is a beautiful thing and it is possible. But it’s only possible for the risk takers who are willing to fail on the path to success.

Playing it safe only means one thing: you’ll be playing alone for the rest of your life.

Thanks again for the note, Bryony. I hope you find the strength to put yourself out there.

One final quote: “The only risk is the one not taken.”

Amen.