Robert J Maurer Ph.D.

The Traits of Excellence


Love Ain't Easy

The bond between love and fear is natural.

Posted Mar 21, 2018

Unknown/Wikimedia Commons
Source: Unknown/Wikimedia Commons

Relationships start off fun and exciting. Yet they often become challenging and problematic. Most things in life get easier the longer we do them. Driving, skiing, dancing, our jobs, get easier the longer we practice them. Why would romance be the one area that does not necessarily get easier? Let me provide one perspective based on my years of collecting long-term studies of successful people. The most basic emotion of the brain is Fear. In the presence of fear, we feel nothing else. In the absence of fear, everything else. This made sense for the thousands of years we lived as hunter gatherers. Fear allowed us to be cautious, careful as we walked the savanna in a body that did not run fast, see or hear or smell well, and that lacked the strength of the animals that used to prey on us. Fear lives in a tiny organ in the mid brain called the amygdala. It responds to threats and opportunities triggering the fight-or-flight response whether we are being chased or doing the chasing.

What does this have to do with romance? Everything. Romance gets scary for one of two reasons. One, humans are not as consistent or reliable as we might like. The person we have opened our heart to, has come home one too many nights grumpy and we are not entirely convinced it is work and not us. Our partner went on a business trip, said they would call before going to sleep, and said they fell asleep before they could call. Their human inconsistencies can trigger fear. The second reason romance triggers fear is because the person we have committed to is wonderful. We may at moments fear we are not worthy, or worry what pain awaits us if they leave or decide they like someone else better.

We go into relationships expecting them to end our loneliness, giving us pleasure and love. And they do....but…the fear of losing our partner comes along for the ride. Recognizing the fear as a healthy part of our journey into love makes the discomfort tolerable, and the more we accept fear as love’s seatmate, the more love can flourish.