Moving Through the Fear to Risk Connection

Useful Dialog Blog CategoryHuman beings are “wired for connection.”  When we have safe, loving, supportive relationships we thrive.  We are healthier, we experience less stress, and we feel vibrant and engaged with life.  The trouble is relationships can be scary.  We have all been hurt, some of us badly, by past loves.  When something feels “off” (our partner is grouchy or in a bad mood, seems preoccupied, or seems to be pulling away) it can be terrifying.  What if he or she doesn’t love me anymore?  What if I’m not good enough?  What if I’m not really loveable after all?

The irony is that in these moments when the relationship calls for us to be our best relational self, we often fall back on old and not so mature behaviors to protect ourselves.  We may lash out at our partners, say something snarky and sarcastic, ignore them, go for the silent treatment, or even walk out and threaten to end the relationship.  Why?  Because at least if I push you away I’m in control.  If I risk being vulnerable and open and you reject me, then I will be devastated.

To stay present, calm and loving in the face of uncertainty may just be the bravest thing we can do.  To say to our partners:  “I know you.  I trust you.  I love you.  I don’t know exactly what is going on but I know that I am committed to making this relationship work, and I will do everything I can to stay open, curious and available.  I am committed, to the very best of my ability, to meeting your needs.”  This is what it means to “trust the us.”  This is truly courageous love.

There is nothing certain in life, and we know that all relationships must end eventually.  When we have the courage to stay present in our relationships even when the ground seems to be shifting beneath us we may risk pain, but we gain strength and the relationship that emerges from this courageous love is inevitably stronger and more vital – we find a new balance and new wisdom, and we are once more at home.

Posted by Laura

Laura Marshall, LCSW, is the founder and director of the Sagebrush Center for Relationship Therapy. Her experience spans thirty years of supporting couples and individuals to create healthy and meaningful lives and relationships. She is also adjunct faculty for the New Mexico Highlands School of Social Work. She lives with her husband Steve and five sons in Farmington, New Mexico.

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