You want to start a new relationship, but your fear of getting hurt is stopping you from taking a leap of love and faith. The past is over, but it’s still affecting how you think, feel, and relate to potential new partners in your life.
“I’m so afraid of getting hurt again,” said Rick on How to Move From Regret to Relief After a Breakup. “It’s so hard to let go of my last relationship, she was everything to me. I can’t stop crying every night when I go to sleep or when I remember our past. I’m so weak. I don’t know what to do anymore. How do I stop my fears from taking over? I still expect her to call and ask if I’m okay. And I don’t know what to do if she comes back and asks for another chance. Would I risk getting hurt in a relationship with her again?”
Your past relationship failed, perhaps ending in betrayal, divorce, depression. You got hurt, your family suffered, your whole life was shaken. Your self-image took a hit, and you still haven’t recovered. That’s the bad news. But wait — there’s good news! You can learn how stop your fear of getting hurt from ruining a new relationship. You can start fresh, if you’re willing to do a little work.
The thought of risking your heart in a new relationship is an understandable source of fear and anxiety. It’s normal to be afraid, to shy away from the very thing that hurt you in the past. It’s tempting to let your fear of getting hurt overcome your need for love and your healthy desire to be in a relationship.
Yes, it’s tempting to allow your fears to run your life…but you don’t want to live that way, do you? That’s why you’re here.
5 Ways to Stop Fear From Ruining a Relationship
These tips for overcoming fear start with the most practical and end with the most spiritual. Which, ironically, may be the most practical and helpful of all!
1. Recognize catastrophic thinking
Thoughts such as “I’m too old to meet someone new” or “I’ll never find anyone as good as my ex” are damaging because they decrease your chances of moving forward in a healthy way. And, that type of thinking increases your fear of getting hurt in a new relationship.
Other types of catastrophic thoughts are “He was my last chance at happiness” and “I’ll never be able to do anything fun or exciting with my life again.” Those thoughts aren’t just depressing, they’re lies. They’re not true! Catastrophic thoughts increase your fears and decrease your confidence in love and new relationships.
In psychology, “catastrophizing” means predicting what will go wrong in the future and turning those thoughts into reality. This type of thinking affects how you act in a new relationship, and can lead to fear, failure, disappointment, and hopelessness. Catastrophic thoughts can make negative events come true and create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
2. Replace fearful thoughts with true, good, and right ones
Your second step is to become aware of how your thoughts increase your fears of getting hurt in a new relationship. Just notice what you think. You’d be surprised at how powerful simple awareness is, and how it helps you grow forward in your life.
Then, switch your focus to what you know is true. Are you overwhelmed with fears of getting hurt by a new partner in a new relationship? Remind yourself that you survived your last breakup — and that you even learned valuable lessons about yourself and others in that relationship. Are you scared you’ll ruin a new relationship with your fears, anxieties, or insecurities? Remind yourself that you are learning and growing, and the past won’t repeat itself unless you let it.
If you haven’t learned anything from your breakup, read How to Know if You Can Trust Someone in a New Relationship.
“I had a 25 year old client who believed it was too late and she was too old,” says family therapist Sharon Rivkin, M.A., author of Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy. “I asked her to replace those ‘I’ll never love again’ phrases with the truth: ‘I will find love again, I am not too old, I just haven’t found the right person.’”
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What are your good, pure, right and true thoughts? If you have none, jump to my last tip on how to stop fear of getting hurt from ruining a new relationship. It’s time to find the light of the universe, the God who created you, the Jesus who saved you.
3. Let go of your expectations
“If you have set expectations then your dreams must manifest exactly as the ego imagines, or someone isn’t going to be very happy,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joy. “Since none of us can predict the future or the best outcome for our authentic path, this kind of thinking is self-destructive.”
What do you expect from a relationship? Examine your specific expectations about how your new partner “should” be. What are your fears? How do you expect your fears to affect your behavior?
Let God direct your life. Listen for His voice, guidance, direction. Rest in the knowledge that you have nothing to fear if you trust Him.
4. Spend time with people who “get” you
There’s nothing worse than feeling alone in a crowd of people! You can be surrounded by people all day, and still feel disconnected and alone. It’s not the presence of people that grounds you…it’s the feeling of being connected and understood.
Who understands and accepts you? Spend time with them. You overcome fear when you experience love, connection, support. You learn how to be in healthy relationships by interacting with people who share your values and beliefs.
Get involved in different activities, such as planning a neighborhood event, volunteering, going back to school, joining a team, getting involved in your community. Digging into a few different areas of life will give you a sense of connection and continuity, and will show you that there’s a whole new and exciting world outside of the life you had.
“The key is to find roles that connect to your basic values and needs, that provide opportunities to meet other people and form new relationships, and that bolster your positive sense of self,” writes Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D. in Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life. “Then when something is wrong in one role in your life, you have these other roles to turn to for gratification, for a network of friends who will support you, and maintain a balanced sense of self.”
5. Learn how to fear nothing
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” says Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30. “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When you recognize the sacrifice Jesus made for you, you fear nothing. You don’t worry about overcoming fear because your focus is in an entirely different place! You won’t expect a new relationship to fulfill you or meet all your requirements. If you walk with God, you know who you are and what your purpose is…and this overcomes your fears. You’ll enjoy a new relationship — and a new partner — for what it is, not what it can give you. And you’ll enjoy and glorify God for who He is, not what He can give you.
If you’re struggling to let go of a past relationship, read How to Emotionally Detach From Someone You Care About.
What do you think – will connecting with God help you stop fear of getting hurt from ruining a new relationship? I’d love to hear from you below. Tell me what you fear most, and how you’re coping with your fears.