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You Asked: I'm Tired of Being Afraid

You Asked: I'm Tired of Being Afraid

Dear Sugar,

A while back my ex-boyfriend dumped me out of nowhere. I thought we were heading in a good direction and that we were finally getting to know each other. (In fact, less than a week before that happened we had spent our first romantic weekend together.) At the end of one date night on the way back to my place he told me that while he loved hanging out with me and that I was the best girlfriend he has ever had he just doesn't feel "it." While I respected that he told me that instead of leading me on, I was still very hurt.

Now I've started a new relationship after licking my wounds for a little while, but I've discovered that my ex has changed me. I now have this sudden fear of abandonment and I am afraid that my current boyfriend will do the same thing. I've never experienced these kind of fears before. My boyfriend is a great guy, and assures me that he isn't going anywhere; he knows what happened before. But I can't shake this feeling, and I'm afraid that it will ruin my relationship. Every time my boyfriend doesn't return my call immediately a small voice inside my head tells me that maybe it's happening again. I know it's irrational but what can I do? Please help!

— Nervous Natalie

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Dear Nervous Natalie,

It's important for you to recognize that there are no guarantees in love or life; what happened to you before could happen to you again. But that's a possibility that you have absolutely no control over, and worrying about it won't make a difference. In fact, as you mentioned, worrying about it can put an unnecessary strain on your relationship. But, of course, it's much easier to tell yourself this than to convince yourself that it's true.

If you make the decision to let go of your fears, they'll naturally fade away, so don't hold on to them because you think they'll protect you from having this happen again; they won't. They'll only make you feel sad and scared. Luckily, acknowledging that your fears are irrational is a great step in the process. Now you just have to believe it. Whenever these concerns enter your mind, start squashing them by putting them in perspective. The fact is that even if your worst-case scenario took place, you'd make it through. It might be hard and painful, but in the end, you'd be OK.

I'm glad that you've opened up to your new boyfriend. Definitely keep those lines of communication open, but make sure that you avoid projecting your fears on to him, which could lead to resentment and extra stress. It's going to take some time, but if you can keep reminding yourself that there's no point in worrying, they will eventually disappear for good.


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