I asked some friends, co-workers, family and others this question: What do you fear most when you're falling in love? Realizing you're falling in love with somebody is exciting, and the questions we often ask ourselves as we're falling are completely normal.
But what happens when those questions begin to more closely resemble feelings of fear? What happens when we dwell too long in the analytical?
You catch yourself clinging to overthought questions and concerns. Sometimes it can be hard to allow yourself the opportunity to fall in love because of what usually is a result of past experiences.
We tend to complicate things unnecessarily and pump the brakes. What should be a very simple feat becomes a risk, and sometimes, our fear prevents us from taking that risk.
Or maybe, we do take the risk. But even those who are the happiest in love still can't help but fear the possibility of it not working out.
So, what are we so afraid of?
Here's what 21 young people had to say:
Losing myself in the process.
– Abigail, 26
Whether or not she will truly reciprocate saying, 'I love you.'
– Bryan, 26
It goes through stages of life. When I was younger, sex freaked me out a lot because people would talk about it like they knew what they were doing. So it caused me a lot of anxiety. You have to be good, last forever and you have to know where all the good spots are, or she's out. At least that's what I thought the first time I fell in love. I think it was my main focus because I wasn't holding back with how I felt. My young heart had never felt a real breakup. And from then on, my biggest fear is once you fall, it won't work out. When I really fall in love, it's real, and when it doesn't work, it crushes me. So now, when I start to fall, my fear is that I will be without my partner, or my partner will eventually feel differently and choose to leave. I've been dating for three years, and everyone is scared of feeling anything. People become cowards and aren't willing to risk getting their hearts broken. They can't deal with the thought of it. So they bury their feelings, and if they do start to fall, they get out before it becomes real. That's the reason your first love is so special. Because you let your heart run free and take its course without fear of that feeling that comes when you fall out of love.
— Chris, 25
The magic fading over time.
— Kathryn, 25
I guess maybe my fear is that I like being alone. So I fear getting into a relationship because I like being alone.
— Sean, 29
Being completely vulnerable to another human being. Before I'm in love, I tend to think as an individual and less about others. It's typical to be selfish in American culture and only do things to promote the self and our names, just to make ourselves look good. But when I fall in love, someone else takes that spotlight, and we must be completely transparent to that other person. I want to look good, I want to be the best person I can be and I want to look like the best person out there, but the simple truth is, I'm not. And I fear that the person that I'm falling in love with won't accept my flaws or failures, and I won't be the person he or she thought I was. I have to hope that the person will fall in love with me, not the idea of me or what he or she thought of me.
— Jake, 25
I'm actually afraid of letting the other person down if I come to find that I don't feel anything for that person. I don't want to be the heartbreaker. It's a horrible thing to be the one that ends the relationship, especially if you love someone. You're always relieved after you end a relationship if that is what you really want, but even if you're the one to end it, you still feel like a horrible human being.
— Catherine, 24
I fear that the feelings I have will end or go away, and that the way this person is making me feel will change or stop. I think it speaks more to not being sure if it's love or lust. Sometimes we want to know that the person is the one, but we should be more concerned with being in the moment.
— Jose, old, but not yet wise
I want to fall in love, but it's never hit me before. So I don't have a fear. I'm probably not the best person to ask for this. The thing with me is, I was single during the most important years of finding myself, so I don't see myself changing. Each relationship is a lesson about what we want, don't want and the type of characteristics we want a person to have. We figure out the red flags and what we can tolerate and look past.
— Liz, 25
The potential of her not being the right one. Anyone can fall in love with anyone, but true love reveals itself in time, through situations and at any age. So at my age, my fear is falling in a type of love that will diminish, and she will end up not being my true love. At 29, I believe I have a little time left to be a heartbreaker or have my own heart broken.
— Ruben, 29
How long it's going to last. In Los Angeles, especially when you're working in the entertainment capital of the Western world, love isn't necessarily enough. The fear that the person you're in love with would either a) love his job more than you, so he's not looking for love, b) back out because he'll think that you may love your job more than him or c) simply find someone else to fill the void. The truth of the matter is, he may not love you back anyway. LA is full of guppies and people who are always striving for something better. It's a city full of dreamers, and sometimes, dreamers can't be held down by love. Dreamers may dream of things that sometimes are too big for reality. So they settle for something fair-weathered or temporary in regard to their love interests.
— Steph, 28
Is she going to break my heart?
— Ryan, 35
My last relationship ended because my girlfriend wasn't as in love with me as I was with her, and I think that's because we were in different stages of our lives. She wasn't able (mentally or physically) to love me back like I did her. The relationship ended at an early enough point when it wasn't devastating. I really don't fear being in love to a point where it would prevent me from seeking it in the future. But, that will definitely be something that will be in my head in a future relationship, whether or not my girlfriend, fiancé or wife is fully committed. Sometimes that fear can keep you in check because you want to constantly make sure you are doing your part. I don't think love is ever equal in a relationship, but I do think effort and commitment should be.
— Will, 31
My biggest fear was deception. I knew how I felt and what I would do for that person, but not knowing exactly how she felt and if she would respond to me in the same way I did is scary. Sometimes you go out of your way for the person you are falling in love with, but sometimes, that person won't feel the same way as you do for him or her. That's just heartbreaking.
— Ezequiel, 27
Thinking about whether or not it will lead to something greater. I'm a girl who generally wants the real deal and not some fling that will fizzle. The fear stems from hoping that I won't be disappointed if there is an end to it because for me, I haven't been able to reach the threshold of finding that special someone who sticks. But it's like, when I do, I won't be able to help think, what if it actually does work out? Then what happens? What's next?
— Stevie, 30
Biggest fear is them not being ready. Spending the time being vulnerable and opening up only to have them reveal they aren't ready for a relationship.
— Josh, 27
That the person will leave me and I will, once again, have to pick up my life and start all over again. The more times you have to do it, the easier it becomes, but it's hard to let yourself fall in love if you're constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. It sucks being a realist about it, but you become conditioned to fearing opening up your heart and letting someone in all the way.
— Amanda, 33
That I'll mess the other person up.
– Chase, 26
The terrifying reality that two people can be in the same room, but have two completely different experiences. That you can try to be as level-headed as possible, but still misunderstand, misread, see and hear what you want to. And that's horrifying. Aren't there all those studies that show the brain in love is like the brain on cocaine? Well, I've never done coke, but I have felt like I was going to live or die waiting for a text. And I have wanted to move in to a lover's shirt because it smelled so damn good. There's a turning point in love, when reason goes out the window and the drugs kick in. I feel like with each new paramour, we play a high stakes game of Chicken. Flooring it toward each other on a single lane highway, do we bail out or collide? Do we agree to take the drugs together? My biggest fear is that I'll take the drugs, and you won't. That I'll fall, and you won't. And perhaps the fear even bigger than that? You won't fall, not because you don't love me, but because you're too afraid to try.
— Katie, 29
The potential of losing your best friend from your life. A lover is way more than just a lover. That person is a huge part of your life, and to have that all ripped away sucks. To be close with their family and their friends, and then to have that all come to an end is horrible. Losing a friend in any capacity is hard. Losing your best friend and love all at once? That's even harder.
— Andrew, 27
So this is actually a great question for me to answer, as I just fell in love this year for the first time in a long time. My greatest fear when falling in love has been worrying about how my past will affect my relationship. After going through something rather traumatic, I've been fearful that I simply couldn't fall in love again. So when I finally did fall in love, it was very difficult for me to be 100 percent honest with him and myself. I noticed I did little things to sabotage the relationship, either by acting strange, not saying much or blowing off a question. I was genuinely fearful of being myself because in a lot of ways, I'm not the same person I was before this traumatic incident. I was discovering who I was along with him. What stopped this fear was meeting the right person. I found someone who gets me and loves me for who I am, even if it can a be a bit tricky at times.
— Lori, 32
The author collected responses for this piece through CrowdSource.