Is Fear Keeping You From Finding a Relationship?

Is Fear Keeping You From Finding a Relationship?

I’ll admit: I don’t read much dating advice. It’s not that I’m above it, but since I’m a busy married guy who writes his own dating advice, reading others’ takes on dating is pretty low on my priority list. But when an article popped up on my Facebook newsfeed that was called “The 12 Reasons You’re Afraid to Get Into A Relationship (And Why You Should Just Chill)”, I clicked through.

I quickly learned that author Lauren Passell and I are kindred spirits. Tell the truth with humor and let the chips fall where they may.

Most people don’t identify themselves as “afraid” of finding a relationship. They couch their singledom in other terms so that it doesn’t sound like a cop-out.

“I’m taking a break from dating right now.”
“I’m really busy with my career.”
“I don’t know too many happily married people.”
“I really like my independence.”

It’s not that these stories are definitively untrue; it’s that they don’t come close to telling the full story.

Most people don’t identify themselves as “afraid” of finding a relationship.

Which is that you use all of these examples to justify why you choose not to be vulnerable and partner up with someone – and sure enough, you never partner up with someone. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Fact is, if you want to fall in love, it’s there for the taking. Whether you’re afraid of heartbreak, afraid of intimacy, or afraid of compromise, you can stay single for the rest of your life, and that’s cool by me.

But you know what’s cooler? Sharing yourself fully with another human being and building a life together. And if you let your fear make all your decisions, you’ll never see the beauty of being truly in love.

Click here to read the article here and let me know what fear is making your decisions for you right now.

Join our conversation (64 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 21

    @Tom 10, why not the first date, or in their online profile if they are online ?
    @EMK: well, when should a man or woman tell his or her date that he/she’s not looking for a serious relationship ?  

    1. 21.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Daphne: I don’t think anyone is obliged to tell anyone anything on a date.

      I think that if you’re not satisfied with his efforts to court you and commit to you, you can dump him at any time.

      Your power lies in your ability to walk away, not in your ability to demand he state his intentions clearly upfront so you don’t waste your time.

  2. 22

    Mia, all I know about your situation is what you post on here.  I was actually trying to help you because it is plain to see from what you write where you are going wrong but I will refrain from doing so in future.  

  3. 23
    Karmic Equation

    Heartbreak is always a possibility when you love someone. It’s just as inevitable as dying. If you live, eventually you die. If you love, eventually your heart will break, because even if your relationship lasts the rest of your life, you or your partner will die, so your or his heart is going to break. Inevitable. Just as you don’t stop living because you’re going to die someday, you shouldn’t stop looking for or working at relationships just because your heart will break someday.

    If you can learn something about yourself from each relationship, the relationship–and you–are not failures. If you repeat without rinsing, then yes, you may be a failure as you’re not doing the reflecting that you need to do to improve yourself for the next relationship. And yes, we all have room for improvement, relationship to relationship.

    As I told a friend recently, each successive guy I’m in a relationship with gets the benefit of me being a better person than the guy in my previous relationship, whether or not they deserve it.

    My goal in relationships is not to be the love of his life, but rather, the woman he can never forget. This goal inspires me to be the best person/woman I can be, without being a doormat. Tough line to toe if you’re insecure, but amazingly effortless when you are secure as a person and truly happy with your life without a man in it.

    And an amazing thing happens when I am the woman he can’t forget, he wants to have me in his life, and we end up being in a relationship.


    You’re an actress, imo, most actresses are very attractive, unless you’re the one whose roles usually make you the beautiful actress’ less attractive best friend/sidekick. If those are the roles you play, they’re not helping your self-esteem. You might want to stop taking those kinds of roles rather than stop dating or giving up on men/relationships, imo.

    I’m the most secure woman I know and here are my specs and I’m 100% sure you are 100% more attractive than me looks-wise: I’m 45yo (told I look 30-35), 4’10”, 150# (obese by body fat indices, but I’m not obese at all, just dense bones and well-muscled, with feminine muscles, not manly-muscles; a slight spare tire in the middle (but I dress well and can hide that)–no one believes my weight, even I don’t when I weigh myself, LOL). I obey the rule of two, show either legs or boobs, not both…and oftentimes neither. My favorite attire are jeans and demure v-neck teeshirts with boots.

    But here’s who I am: I don’t dress slutty and I don’t act slutty. I’m always happy, smiling, flirty, and full of humor. I think men are wonderful creatures and see them as people first, men 2nd, and I treat them like good people…and they in turn treat me like good people. I radiate feminine grace. When I’m not in a live-in LTR, I never leave the house looking less than my best, because you never know who you’re going to bump into. Wherever I go, I never lack for positive (non-jerk, non-player) male attention.

    If you truly truly love yourself and are secure with yourself, it’s not hard to have what you want out of life. Life can still throw you curve balls, but you’ll be able to handle them. Being secure is not just loving yourself and accepting your insecurities, it’s really conquering the insecurites and fears.

    I think it was in the movie “Enemy at the Gates” — there was a line that sticks with me (paraphrased) “Bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather doing what you must even if you’re afraid.” I use “No guts, no glory” in every thing I do, especially if I’m afraid. I live my live according to these two mottos, with no insecurities. And I have never been happier.

    The last insecurity I had to overcome was recent…I’m 45, my (for the time being reformed-player, time will tell if this holds) boyfriend is 12 years my junior…so I was competing for his time/attention with women half my age who are much hotter. And I, understandably, was jealous and insecure…until I remembered for my age I’m quite the catch…and I’m nothing like the women he was used to dating, namely SANE (he has a bunny-boiler ex, she tried to run him over with her car), no-drama, love sports and can talk sports as well as most men, can shoot pool almost as well as he (and he’s good, I’m no slouch), and just truly love his personality founded on his player-ness (flirty, confident, charming, articulate). And instead of holding the qualities that made him an awesome playah against him, I celebrated those qualities with him (not the sleeping with other girls part, btw, that I was deafeningly silent on) — but the flirty, charming, confident swagger that he displayed, I always complimented and admired him for.

    And he is now spending practically every non-working waking moment with me. We shoot pool, we watch movies, he’s started introducing me to his family…I couldn’t be happier with his consistency, effort, and devotion. I believed in the good that was in him and just gave him the opportunity to show that goodness. And we are both happier people for it. Because he is so much younger than me, I recognize that this relationship has a shelf-life already…so heartbreak is in the offing. I’m willing to risk that because I’m not afraid. Life will go on after him and we will both be better people for it. Until then, I am going to have the time of my life with him.

  4. 24

    @ Fiona #18

      “They are multitudes of reasons why some women are married and I am not: some are prepared to put up with behaviour that I am not, some were better judges of character than I have been in the past, some didn’t spend so much time at work, and some were just plain better girlfriends than I have been to some of my exes.”

    I like and share your perspective. 🙂

  5. 25

    “I think that if you’re not satisfied with his efforts to court you and commit to you, you can dump him at any time.
    Your power lies in your ability to walk away, not in your ability to demand he state his intentions clearly upfront so you don’t waste your time.”

    Very important perspective to have, leads to a lot less feeling like a  victim and continuously giving up one’s power.

    @David T, I feel the exactly the way you do.   As a mother  of older children, I don’t want to get involved with someone with younger children, and I’m not having any more of my own.   So really, it is all about me and how inspired I am.   So far, no so much inspiration is coming my way!  

  6. 26

    @Karmic #24
    Great post, your attitude to life is spot-on – women like you are so attractive.

    My two mantras on life are:

    from Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) by Baz Luhrmann:
             “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.”

    And (paraphrased) from Dr. Phil, which helps with insecurities: “the number one thing on everyone’s minds is themselves, so don’t worry what other people think of you — because they’re not thinking of you — they’re thinking of themselves!”

    I love people who are “always happy, smiling, flirty and full of humor” — I’m one too! 🙂

  7. 27
    David T

    As I think about my “building something” motivation, I realized I have to retool what I think about what I want to build, because what I was looking for when my son was younger is no longer in the cards.  
    I would LOVE to be with someone with younger children, and to watch them grow and help raising them. THAT is exciting.   Or maybe I need to just think about building a particular home and lifestyle, or making a business that gives back I want to have and taking joy in sharing things. Something else altogether besides “build” could be missing from my motivation.
    Enough navel gazing and publishing here instead of my own journal. Hopefully it was useful to someone. It was good self work for me anyway! 🙂

  8. 28

    Brilliant post Karmic. And David.   I think there can be a fear of success (just it’s cheesy and overused rhetoric but thats what makes it true…).   I am 3 months into a blissfully happy, healthy, equal relationship that we both beleive has a good future. But still there is that fear of what if…what will the future look like…what compromise will there be…etc.   I’m not backing away, and its not holding me back, but it’s there, just a little bit, in the background – as so it should be this early on.
    On the other hand, I have friends who are 3, 4 5 years single who lament about never finding a partner.   They give off a ”dont’mess with me” vibe which I’m sure can be smelt by potential suitors!   Maybe it’s fear dressed up as independence?  

  9. 29

    I think there is one big fear which keeps people from relationships: fear of our own flaws, fear of other people’s flaws. Relationships break apart our defences like nothing else, and we fear that other people will see where we feel we are inadequate, and we fear where other people will disappoint us.

    Anyway, that has been my experience, and it’s something I’ve been looking at recently.

    I think that the people who  wind up in successful, happy relationships are not any more perfect than the rest of us, I think they are the ones who greet the flaws in themselves, and the flaws in others, with love and acceptance, all the while refining what it is they want for their own lives.

    From what I’ve observed, those who are perpetually unhappy in their love lives, or who bounce from one unhappy relationship to another, do not truly have self-acceptance and self-love. And you can tell this from how they talk about others.

  10. 30

    My last relationship, which ended two months ago, left me emotionally drained, so I’m taking a break and simply enjoying life. I am 50 and realize that my window of opportunity is closing the older I get, but I am enjoying being single and unattached right now. I fix myself up (some men tell me that I am attractive), go out with friends, or sometimes alone, and I enjoy myself tremendously. So even though I’m not ‘offically’ looking, I still put myself in situations where I can meet members of the opposite sex. Even if I never meet anyone, and spend the rest of my life single, at least I can say that I put myself out there. The rest is out of my control.

  11. 31

    @Fiona #18. Good point. Those are valid reasons; however, some woman and men are married simply because they found someone who was the right fit at the right time. My mother used to say: “There’s somebody for everybody.” I agree, but the hard part is finding the person that is a good fit for me. No one wants to be single for the rest of their lives, but it beats being married someone one who is not a good fit. Been there and done that!

  12. 32

    tha fact that you know you had thirteen dates or eight dates or nine   may be where the problem lies. When I   first met my boyfriend I was in a state of high anxiety not having dated for six years. i was keeping Tabs on how many dates, how many calls, how many texts. I then decided to kick back and relax. I can’t tell you how many dates we have been on. And not because its been thousands as we’ve only been dating two months or so, I forget exactly.
      If we enter dating feeling defensive, afraid, cynical, mistrustful of men, or relationships, of ourselves we cant succeed. We pick the wrong ppl, or the wrong ppl pick us, or we pick a good prospect and scare them off
    , or we start seeing potential too early because we want to rush to the conclusion without putting in the time effort and emotion to genuinely get to know someone.  
    You have to be optimistic, treat each new person as new and not a carbon copy of the men who’ve let us down before, take your time, dont get yr hopes up too early. Yes you could still get hurt and disappointed but it’s the only way it can work. And if we get hurt, we can handle it. It goes with the territory. But, oddly, when you accept that you become less likely to get hurt, not more likely.
    Good men are out there. But we will never find them if we’re afraid.
    and I’m forty seven so its not like I’m in the top category of desirability either.
    all our attractiveness, pleasantness, femininity etc does not guarantee a good relatsionship. I’m not as beautiful as I was but this relationship is shaping up better than the ones of my twenties. Not as beautiful but smarter and definitely braver.
    bon courage!  

  13. 33

    to choose a relationship where you are one hundred percent certain it won’t last is a sign of fear to me.
    and a twelve yr age diff isn’t even that much. I don’t know many ppl and even I know of two longterm marriages where the woman is over ten years older.
    i have to declare two biases , 1. I’m fifteen yrs older than my boyfriend, who has asked me if I can see myself   married. I said yes. He still took me to lunch. 2 with all my heart I believe that every human being deep down wants that lifelong love and commitment to one person. I think it’s the high point of happiness and joy. Whether we can achieve it is another matter I guess!

  14. 34
    Karmic Equation

    @Tom10 27 and @Susan 29

    Thanks 🙂


    When the expiration date is reached on my current relationship, I’ll let you know. Maybe we can become “virtual” friends. LOL

    @marymary 34

    Hmmm…Does your BF make more money than you? If yes, if he proposes, you ought to consider it. He really loves you. If you make more money than your BF, you need to be sure he isn’t looking for you to be his sugar mama. And if you marry him, make sure you have an ironclad prenup. Don’t let the romance and ego-boost of being courted by a younger man blind you to the reality that men can be gold-diggers, too.

    May-December romances where the Man is December works because the May that is the woman can still bear his children. Not so if the December is the woman. Typically in a May-December relationship where the December is the woman, the woman is beyond her child-bearing years, as you and I are. I don’t know about your man, but I do know that my man would make a great father someday, and knowing who he is, he’s not going to be up for adoption, surrogacy, or in vitro children. He’ll want his children created and borne the “natural” way. It’s who he is. Knowing that, I know that my relationship with him at best is going to last until he decides he wants children.

    Let’s say he never wants children…When you’re 63 your man is going to be 48. Think about that. Do you really think that a good looking man at 48 won’t look at other options when his wife is geriatric? Unless you are Raquel Welch…you’re living in a fantasy and deluding yourself.

    I believe in romance. I believe in love. But I live in reality with eyes wide open.


    After I read Fiona’s posts and your answers to them, I re-read your other posts. I’m not sure you realize it, but your posts while trying to sound positive and impart your strength, have a negative vibe. Maybe it’s the words you choose (like “pathetic” and “awful” whether applying to yourself or others), or the tone of your posts (#5 “…who acts nothing but sweet, engaging, and playful and get compliments and still gets the shaft time after time”; #19 “I also know many people who have truly awful personalities who get married so let’s not act like this is a niceness contest. Please.”) — They feel negative.

    It’s possible that your unconscious negativity doesn’t register with a guy until the 9th date and then it takes them several more dates to confirm their instinct..and that’s when you get the shaft. I guess the positive of your situation is that the guys you’re dating have enough respect for you and enough integrity to tell you it’s not going to work out as opposed to simply fading out of your life. Your picker’s working. You’re dating good guys. The negative of your situation is that you may want to reflect on what you do differently after the 9th date that turns guys off. Or to state that in a positive way, figure out what you are doing right in dates 1-8 and continue doing them forevermore.

    If what you do in dates 1-8 is an act, and who you are after date 9 is who you really are, well, maybe you need to change your default so that you’re the date 1-8 person and not the 9+ person.

  15. 35

    I’m with David T: you have to be truly happy with your single life.   If you  desperately want to be in a relationship, you probably give off vibes of desperation, which is something that players cue on.

    @ marymary # 33: that’s a really good point–if you’re counting the number of dates before a guy bails, you’re already expecting the relationship to fail, so you shouldn’t really be surprised when it does.

  16. 36

    Somebody somewhere did the math and concluded that if you reach person number 7 without finding your soulmate then settle for number 7 because no one better is coming along.   & is a big enough sample of the human race.   You are creating your own barriers if you haven’t found someone by number 7.

    Personally I think that Schizoid Personality Disorder doesn’t get enough exposure in this sort of discussion.  

    Guess which Peter this is.   High functioning Asperger’s   anyone?

    @ MAryMaary 34.   15 years age difference isn’t even a different era in music these days.   I’m sure no one on the street notices.   It’s the difference in life expectancy brought about by smoking cigarettes.   Go for it girl!

    1. 36.1

      Settling for number 7? Seriously? C’mon. Thats not what people mean when they say dating is a numbers game:) And what about other conditions, like your own ability to recognize relationship-material people? Your emotional availability? By the time I dated Mr.7 I wasn’t able to see I tend to choose men who are sooo so wrong for me, so not settling for him was the best thing to do, not otherwise. Those that came later were definitely better quality men.
      About Schizoid Personality Disorder – I find this aspect quite interesting, but, however, I think most issues of people that comment in here are connected to dissappointments from previous dating / relationship experiences, inability to see or overcome  their own negative patterns and etc.

  17. 37

    counting the dates.   a minor epiphany for me. I’m going to blog on that! thanks!

  18. 38

    While it’s charming that some here are trying to tell me about my situation without knowing about it, I can tell you that the first guy told me on out 9th date out of the blue that he hated Jewish people; the second guy told me on the 9th date that he realized he’s way too busy for a relationship bc he was working 18 hour days on a highly publicized startup ; and the most recent confessed he realized he’s not ready for the ltr I was looking for, but spoke highly of me and we have remaimed friends who have since gotten together for some outdoors activities we have in common. The first guy was a creep, the second busy. So .. Not quite getting how I could have screwed these up.  

  19. 39

    @Mia #39:
    Right! As if counting dates was *the* problem! Seriously people!! Just for the record, I counted my first 15-16 dates, and now after well over a year I still remember exactly was we did on each of them and what we talked about. I have a great memory and I cherish remembering those first dates : )
    Now I do have a comment about the fact that you, Mia, learned about his “busyness” or “unavailability for a LTR” at date #9 or date #13. I find it really ineffective to learn such crucial information so late in the dating process. Relationship goal is a no-brainer question to ask early if you want to invest your time, energy, and emotions in the most promising men. Taking so many dates to find this information out if way too long in my opinion. Unless you want to make friends or “activity partners”.
    Not saying we must ask on date #1. But if we are wise and try to reduce (fear of) heartache and burn-out, we should not date someone for weeks who does not share our goals. Or who already knows that we do not qualify for reasons such as ethnic background, religion, culture, education, etc.
    For me it came out quick. At date #3, as there was need to start explaining my physical boundaries, I learned that he was open to a LTR and that he liked me enough to imagine considering one with me if everything was going to unfold well. We had not even kissed by then. That happened at date #4 : ) It took a bit longer for me to ask whether he was okay with my cultural background (I’m not an English native speaker and my whole family lives overseas, so that’s not for everyone : ). At date #15 we were in a clearly defined relationship and started being sexually intimate.
    To me, dating is a discovery phase. I’m all for fun and romance, and we had plenty of these, but each date had to bring some serious information as well. I certainly like going on a date with someone promising, but I’d rather give more hours to serving my community within my volunteer group than going on multiple dates with men who are “too busy” or “not interested in a LTR”. I prefer to extract this information early and opt out accordingly. Save me much heartache and energy!

  20. 40

    Was trying to find a right place to put this…and wanted to send you a success story. I bought your book after my marriage ended but realized I didn’t need to date just yet. When I decided I was ready, I joined an online site and had fun, was frustrated, and laughed a lot. The guy I’m seeing is someone I never would have found through my search criteria he was too far away and a bit older than I was looking for (he’s 10 years older than me) He was on the featured singles near you or something. There was something about his eyes, and he had a very funny username. I read his profile and I didn’t really fit his criteria either but I thought I had to acknowledge a well written profile and I sent him an email.  

    We   finally met a month later and had a very fun night. We laughed a lot. there is a lot that I would have discounted him on in the past  and I found myself finding reasons that not to like him. But I had to remind myself of what you said that no matter what tests he goes through it doesn’t gaurantee future behavior. I am a bit insecure (aren’t we all) but then I remind myself of what you said: does he contact you every day, does he make plans for the future…and the big one? there hasn’t been a bad. I’ve told myself ignore the positive believe the negative…there hasn’t been a negative.

    Last weekend after a month and a half we said we were exclusive and he gave me a some compliments that you’d approve of: awesome, fun, very sexy, great to spend time with.

    I honestly have no idea if we’ll “work out” but I’ve learned I don’t have to know. I’m still evaulataing him as much as he’s evaluating me. I’m not trying to read the last page of the book anymore…I’m enjoying the story.

    Thanks Evan I’m glad I didn’t let my fear of rejection cause me to reject him first, or my silly high standards keep the bar so high no one ever got in.

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