Do you often have a niggling thought and a fear that your relationships won’t work out or that you will be rejected? Being in a relationship is one of the most vulnerable positions you can be and a degree of fear of rejection is natural. You have to put your trust and faith in the arms of another person and hope that they will reciprocate your love for them.
Whether you are in a relationship or single looking for love, fear of rejection can have a detrimental impact on your relationships or lack of them. People have a deep need for a sense of belonging and connecting with others both romantically and otherwise. We start to form bonds with others from the first moments after we are born and these early relationships often shape our future.
Fear of rejection tells us about our need for emotional security and connection with another person. This blog post is about the signs of fear of rejection: when unhealthy levels of fear of rejection – a deep sense of fear of becoming attached to another adult and being rejected by them – can destroy your relationship. Awareness of fear makes it easier for you to work on the fear and stop it from destroying your relationships in the future.
Relationships require many ingredients to thrive, such as love, commitment, friendship, chemistry, just to name a few, but to make a deep connection and for that to last we need to be able to tolerate the fear of rejection. Read here about Qualities of a healthy relationship here.
Would you like to stop sabotaging your relationships? Spot the signs of fear of rejection killing your relationship.
A tick-list of ideal qualities for potential partners
Do you have a 50-point tick list for potential partners and you easily reject someone based on external matters such as wearing the wrong type of shoes to a date? If you think that only someone who meets your criterion fully will be a good match, you may end up dating a lot of people or perhaps only very few, because no one ever meets the criterion.
It is easy to put up a wall if you are fearful of rejection. There are, of course, some “non-negotiables”, which are reasons for rejecting someone, such as whether one wants to have children or not and that your potential partner treats you with respect. If fear of rejection guides your decision making, you may end up rejecting someone who could potentially be a compatible match and loving partner. If you are struggling to find someone to meet your criterion, perhaps it is worth thinking about whether you are deep down fearful of finding someone who could become your life partner. The risk of being in a relationship is that you have to trust someone else, who may take advantage of it.
Breaking up before you get rejected
Are you always leaving relationships when they start to get more serious? If you notice a pattern of leaving the relationship after you have your first argument and think “this is it, s/he’ll leave me now, I better break up the relationship”. Although disagreements can be unsettling especially in the early stages of a relationship, disagreements can deepen emotional closeness when the situation is resolved. If you leave the relationship at that stage due to fear of rejection, you continue the cycle of starting a relationship, feeling the fear of rejection and ending the relationship. You may end up letting go of potentially amazing, loving and long-lasting relationships because you don’t give them a chance to blossom.
Feelings of jealousy and suspicion, particularly if they are acted on an extreme, can put an end to a relationship that otherwise might be a compatible one and could potentially flourish. Do you doubt your partner and their intentions, when rationally you know that there is no reason or evidence to doubt them? If you have been cheated on or significant people have otherwise let you down in the past, you may worry that your partner is going to do the same.
It is fine to have a degree of jealousy, but if you become suspicious and accuse your partner about their actions without evidence, your relationship may be heading towards an end. Being accused of doing something when one has not done anything to deserve it can over time make your partner feel undervalued and angry. By continuing with acting on your feelings of jealousy you may be heading towards what you fear the most. Your partner can’t say or do anything to reassure you about their commitment unless you are willing to accept that your partner has chosen to be with you.
Keep pushing your partner away
How do you react when your partner seeks closeness? This could be in a form of emotional intimacy and talking about private matters or seeking physical closeness. You may withdraw from contact and tell your partner to stop touching in public, isolate, distract with talking about something else or make a joke when your partner raises something difficult. You may even start an argument for no apparent reason because you feel frightened about the deep connection that your partner is seeking. Do you feel lonely in your relationship? You may say to yourself or to others that you are too practical for emotions and not a romantic, even if deep down you are longing for a close connection.
Perhaps you come from a family background where there was little physical contact in the form of hugs and kisses or openly talking about deeply emotional matters. As an adult expressing these may make you feel uneasy. You can learn to accept emotional and physical closeness and even enjoy them if you allow yourself to trust your partner and accept their love for you.
If you have experienced childhood trauma, that is impacting on your relationship pattern, you may be interested in this post, or childhood emotional neglect, read here.
“To be loved, my body needs to be perfect”
Perhaps you are looking you for love and fear that you won’t be able to find love unless you fit a certain female body image stereotype. You may say to yourself that you won’t even put yourself out there and seek love until you get to a particular size or shape. If you are in a relationship you may fear that your partner is not attracted to you: you may avoid showing your body to your partner and end up rejecting them. You may seek reassurance from your partner, but unless you accept it, it is meaningless.
Body image concerns reveal a deep-rooted fear of being rejected, your thoughts and feelings about your body can get in the way of finding or nurturing existing love. Recently I wrote a two-part blog post series on improving your relationship with your body image. Read it here.
Difficulty to set boundaries
In your relationship do you go all out of your way to please your partner even if you know that they are not a compatible match and perhaps they even take advantage of your kind nature? Perhaps you end up staying in destructive relationships for longer and struggle to leave, because you are afraid of being alone and finding someone compatible. If you struggle to set boundaries in your relationship, it can leave you feeling frustrated, angry and anxious, and perhaps eventually even depressed.
Boundaries in relationships are healthy and important. They are a sign of self-respect and tell your partner what you are comfortable with. A compatible and loving partner respects you and your boundaries.
Fear of rejection in relationships can take many forms and these are just a few examples of how it can destroy your intimate relationships or prevent you from having one. Ultimately we all want to be loved and accepted as we are, but in close relationships, we have to learn to live with the fear of rejection.
Over time in a loving and compatible relationship, it is easier to trust that our partner will not betray our trust. When you feel at your most vulnerable to combat your fear, acknowledge it, say to yourself some reassuring words and try to think that whatever happens, you will be able to deal with it. If you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable with another person, you may miss out on an opportunity to be loved.
Would you like to have more fulfilling and feel more comfortable in close relationships?
Have you had enough of feeling disconnected and fearful in relationships, and instead you would like to feel connected and comfortable in relationships?
If you are looking for a therapist to support you in understanding your style of relating with others and improving your relationship(s), take a look at my Services page. Take your first step towards having a fulfilling relationship now!
CHECK OUT this free Relationship checklist which can help you to assess whether your relationship is “good enough”.