You’re alone but you don’t want to be. The world is full of people. Yet it can seem like there’s no one out there who will really love you.
What is getting in the way of you finding the love you desire?
Fear of Rejection
Perhaps you’ve experienced a painful rejection and so you fear to go through that again. Instead of continuing to search for a partner, you put up a wall, distract yourself and stop trying.
Rejection can occur from your first attempt at connection and stop you in your tracks. Rejection can also be experienced after many years of a relationship when your partner decides to end the relationship. You may also feel rejected during the relationship due to behaviors like your partner criticizing you or withdrawing from sex.
Rejection can destroy your ego, validating that critical voice in your head that says you don’t deserve to be loved. Your sense of self can become tattered and fragile, making you afraid to take the risk to begin a relationship. You worry that your self-esteem can’t handle another rejection.
There’s no denying that to love is to risk losing. But as Shakespeare said, “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”
However, for some people, the losses hurt so badly that they don’t believe they can handle it. I once had a client tell me that he’d rather be shot in the head than experience emotional pain. The pain is real and people have different tolerance levels for it.
You have a few options. One is to find someone that, with absolute certainty, you can guarantee, won’t reject you. Guarantees and certainties are very hard to come by. And the need for such assurance can become a cause of problems in the relationship.
Another option is to give up on love altogether. Avoiding struggle provides temporary relief, but leads to dissatisfaction, possibly even depression.
The third option is participating in therapy to help you change your attitude towards rejection, build your self-esteem, and emotional tolerance. Change your relationship with fear and anxiety so that it doesn’t stop you from pursuing happiness.
History of Trauma
Trauma is a big word that carries a lot of weight. But it’s sometimes hard for people to identify when they’ve experienced it. Even traumas as blatant as physical or sexual abuse can become confused in the minds of the victims, blurring into self-blame or blocked out entirely. Other traumas, like emotional abuse or emotional deprivation, can be hard to identify because of its subtle or non-verbal nature.
Unfortunately, trauma doesn’t just haunt the past. It can affect the way you live in the present and create anxiety about the future. Trauma can cause you to back away from having relationships. Past traumatic experiences can trigger feelings or behaviors that cause problems in relationships.
Therapy can help you work through past traumas so that they don’t control your life.
Low self-esteem is like carrying around a criticizing bully in your head. This bully is always telling you that you’re not good enough to get what you want. In fact, low self-esteem is always whispering discouragement messages to you, stopping you from trying new things or feeling good about yourself.
It’s hard to feel like you deserve to be loved when you don’t love yourself.
Maybe your low self-esteem has been telling you that you’ll never find someone that would love you. Criticizing your appearance, finances, depression or anxiety. Self-criticism can pick apart everything you do; causing you to experience social anxiety, limiting your interactions with others, inhibiting you from showing the other people how great you actually are.
Problematic behaviors such as substance abuse, unhealthy expressions of anger, infidelity, emotional unavailability, sexual anxiety can destroy relationships. If untreated, these behaviors can overshadow everything wonderful about you. They get in the way of you being your best.
Some behaviors are so dangerous for your loved ones that they have to leave you in order to protect themselves; even if they really don’t want to.
It’s a vicious circle: being alone triggers problematic behaviors and then those problematic behaviors can cause you to be alone.
You are more than these problematic behaviors. They don’t need to run the show and take away all your chances at love and connection. But they do need to be dealt with in order for you to have the kind of relationships that will really nourish you.
As strange as it may sound, you developed problematic behaviors as a way of coping with difficulties in life. They do something that feels good for you. Substances numb emotional pain. Outbursts of anger can momentarily release inner tension. Emotional unavailability can protect you. But the costs outweigh the gains. The damage to your body, your self-esteem, and your relationships is far greater than the temporary relief from emotional pain. However, if you don’t have an alternative for relieving that emotional pain, then you’ll suffer the consequences anyway.
In therapy, you work through the emotional pain that is causing these damaging coping skills. At the same time, learning new, helpful ways of coping with stress, depression or anxiety. Eliminating problematic behaviors and gaining healthy coping skills will allow you to find the love you desire.
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If you’re interested in learning how psychotherapy can help you, contact Rena Pollak, LMFT for a free 15 minute phone consultation. I have a private practice in Encino and Calabasas.