I've been in some really terrible relationships and dealt with some tough things in my past, so now I have a very difficult time opening up to people and really showing them who I am. I met someone about year ago, and we've spent a lot of time together, and I think, grown pretty attached to each other yet I still can't get myself to let my guard down.
Our talks are starting to get more serious — we talk about the long-term picture and plans that we want to make with each other. It's great, except that the more serious things get, the more I try to push him away. I really like him, but I find myself wanting to just run in the opposite direction. I know he's starting to feel me pulling away from him; he knows that I've been hurt before, and he's very understanding, but still, I don't want to ruin this. I love him. How can I stop my issues from messing up things between us?
— Been Burned Before Beth
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Dear Been Burned Before Beth,
You obviously have a lot of pain that you're still dealing with, and I applaud you for trying to break your habit of running away as soon as things get serious. It sounds like you have something very special growing with this person, and I'm glad to hear that he's aware of your struggles.
When one person in a relationship is dealing with something like this, the best thing to do is keep the lines of communication as open as possible. Even if you don't know why you're scared, it's OK to tell him that you are. By letting him in on your fears and insecurities, you're also giving him the opportunity to show you that he's someone you can trust and feel safe with. It's also important to convey that your feelings for him are not in question, but you're just intimidated by the prospect of getting close to someone.
Separately, it might help to speak with a therapist in order to trace back to the roots of this fear and pain. It would probably help you in all aspects of your life, not just your romantic relationship, to retrain your mind to feel safe when opening up to others. As long as you have the desire to overcome this obstacle, you can, so stay positive and good luck.