Question submitted via Formspring:
“Hello Dave. I’m young and happily single; only friends and fun from time to time. But sometimes when I meet someone with whom I can be a friend AND have fun, I develop feelings for him. This scares me and I stop contact; should I give them a chance?”
First, let’s break this one into pieces:
You are ‘young’ and ‘happily single’.
You only have friends and ‘fun from time to time’; AKA the occasional ‘friend with benefits‘.
When you find a guy you can sleep with, and you actually enjoy his company, you develop feelings for him; which is normal enough.
However, that scares you and you stop contact.
Now, you want to know if you should give them a chance.
Here is a better question: what is your relationship with your father like, and what is his relationship with your mother like? As for why that’s the question, let’s look at this in more detail.
You are young; how young? Based on the overall tone of the question, my sense is around 22-24 years old. You also say you are ‘happily single’; but if the prospect of not being single scares you, that is more like hiding. And hiding isn’t happiness.
You mention when you find a guy that you can be friends and ‘have fun’ with, you develop feelings for him; but that’s actually a bit of a red flag. Since that means you put guys you can be friends with and guys you can be intimate with in two different categories, which means you probably tend to be attracted to jerks. Remember that, we’ll come back to it later.
When you develop these feelings, it scares you, and you stop contact; which means meaningless sex comes easier to you than emotional intimacy, which is yet another red flag.
So, I ask once again: what is your relationship with your father like, and what is his relationship with your mother like?
There are a couple of reasons why this is the question; first and foremost there is a very short list of things that cause this kind of emotional response, and daddy issues are right at the top of the list.
Chances are extremely high that you don’t come from a stable, loving home with parents who are in a stable, loving relationship…even if it’s with someone else. We learn from our parents what a relationship is supposed to look like, and when that’s not the best example, we get stuck living into that pattern again and again.
The other thing that can cause this response, is being an abuse survivor. Normally, I wouldn’t have suggested this as a possibility; but the fact that sex comes so easily but emotions do not is a red flag.
No matter what the cause is, the answer is the same: first and foremost, figure out who hurt you, and forgive them for whatever they did, or whatever they didn’t do. It doesn’t matter if you give any of these guys a chance or not; if you haven’t fixed the original problem, you’ll still end up sabotaging the relationship.
Once you have forgiven them, then you can work on forgiving and truly loving yourself.
The reason why you are afraid when you develop feelings for someone, is because you’re afraid they’ll leave. Deep down inside, you don’t feel like you are good enough for them, and when they realize they’ll run; this is why the sex is easy but the emotions are difficult, and also why you might like jerks. True and genuine self love is the only counter to this, since once you realize how wonderful you are, and how much you have to offer, you’ll realize that any guy would be a fool to leave you. And if he does, it’ll be his loss anyway!
To be clear: yes you should give at least some of these guys a chance; but it won’t matter until you’ve done the inner work first. Since right now, it’s like you are asking if you should buy a new car while your garage is cluttered with junk; you have to make room for it first.
Above all else, be gentle with yourself; it’s totally normal to be a little scared by the prospect of a new relationship, it’s just not healthy to be crippled by that fear. Even as you go forward you still may feel that urge to run, but you’ll have to learn to stand your ground and realize that the fear isn’t real.
Now it’s up to you to stop running; being vulnerable is not easy, but it’s worth it!
You are great, and I love you!
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B. Dave Walters
Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host
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