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You Asked: Can I Stop My Issues From Hurting My Relationship?

Dear Sugar,

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

To see DearSugar's answer,


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.


Join The Conversation
emalove emalove 9 years
I experienced something similar when I was in college, after I had something traumatic happen to me while I was dating a guy I cared a lot about. After it happened, I was so anxious and unsure of new guys...I felt like I couldn't trust anyone or let them get too close to me. I kept them all at arm's length. I became pretty withdrawn and really went into a funk for awhile. I even ended up getting back together with my high school sweetheart at one point because I felt like he was the only guy I could trust. And that I knew wouldn't hurt me. So good luck...I know how tough it can be to "get over" a tough relationship.
vmruby vmruby 9 years
Yes you absolutely have the power to stop it....We have all been badly hurt from past relationships and sometimes it stings enough to the point where we have a hard time forgetting it.You're not at all wrong for feeling that way you're human. On the other hand,your boyfriend should not be categorized with the others who may have hurt you in the past.It's really not fair to him.Talk to him about your feelings and maybe there's some way he can alleviate your fears and put you a little more at ease with trusting him.If not then maybe you should consider some counseling.He just might turn out to be the one so don't let him get away. Good Luck!
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 9 years
I had this same problem. I was in an awful relationship in college. We broke up and a few months later I was dating my now-husband, but I kept expecting for him to hurt me and to lie to me. I was always on the defensive. It also didn't help that I grew up in a house with two parents who were constantly fighting. Don't get me wrong, they love me and I didn't have it that bad, but it wasn't a great example of what a relationship should be, either. Thankfully, my husband is the most wonderful and patient man I've ever known, and he just kept showing me in his actions that our relationship was different from my last one and that of my parents. The bottom line is that you have to let your guard down to let anyone else in. If you don't let people in, then you end up alone. I am awful at letting people in, but the more I've done it, the happier I've become. If you can't get there on your own, definitely look into counseling.
Papaver Papaver 9 years
I agree. Deal with your issueas first. I'm on my way to do the same thing. There is really no other way, I should know best...
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
Your problems will continue to reverberate as long as you don't actively deal with them, and it seem as if you haven't. Get counseling.
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