fear and love are not compatible bed fellows – this is what the one who wore the crown taught me. there are different types of fear: fear of falling apart, fear of rejection, fear of not being understood, fear of being judged, fear of being alone, fear of loss, fear of change, fear of being overwhelmed, fear of your needs being ignored, fear of boredom, fear of lack of control, fear of failure, and fear of helplessness. simply put, fear of losing someone you love (romantically). these fears put together have a name, thantophobia – the fear of losing someone you love (a fear that’s perfectly normal), but a fear that can overwhelm you and your relationship and cause you to lose the person you love. why? you cannot truly love someone when you’re afraid of losing him/her.
have you ever sat across a restaurant table, or on a sofa beside your ex and told him/her something you wouldn’t have dared to tell him/her while you were together? for instance tell him/her “i spent the weekend with william/wanda at my/his/her place.” i mean, this a guy/girl you’ve told your ex in other instalments you’ve been phoning, texting and visiting after you two broke up. have you? you see, the thing about relationships is that you can’t tell your lover the truth until you are no longer afraid of losing him/her. to love, you need to get rid of that fear. i mean it’s only human that you will think about a day your lover will no longer be in your life, and for every human, this is a sad contemplation, but you cannot let the idea that losing them will break you or let it hold you ransom in your quest to love. is there a man reading this right now who can listen to joe’s “worst case scenario,” right now and not think nothing of it? to be intimate with your lover, to love truly, you have to let go of the fear of losing them and learn to be vulnerable.
true intimacy demands only one thing from every lover – awkward, painful, vulnerable honesty. you misunderstand honesty if you think by saying, “you hurt me last week when you said those nasty things about my mother,” you are being honest. because saying that means nothing if you keep a lot of your fears from your lover. saying that means nothing if you keep those little desires that you think your lover cannot fulfill. it means nothing, for instance, if you can say that but can’t stand in front of your lover and say, “our sex life sucks.” look, i am not asking you to go rock the boat by saying this. just that it means nothing if you keep things inside that you think will cause your lover to abandon you like, “i don’t think you earn enough to give me a good future,” and as you sit watching a movie with the characters riding in aston martins, drinking expensive wines in expensive restaurants, and splashing cash on clothes and jewelry, you say, “that’s the kind of life i want.” this to a 9-to-5 bakery worker, will be true honesty. i mean, it means nothing if you cannot show your most vulnerable because you are afraid that at your most raw, your lover will abandon you. and, so, you accept these little concessions – you tolerate the inevitable. you say to yourself “it’s fine if i’m not having my sexual desire fulfilled.” you tell yourself “it’s ok taking kombis to work and everywhere, at least i get to spend time with more people.” but when you say this in your desire to be with your lover, you need to remember you are forgetting your desire to stay true to yourself. if you want to love and be loved you cannot let fear rule your desire. i like raphael saadiq’s boldness in the song, “ask of you.” damn, that is saying it as it is. “kissin’ you is not enough for me/you know i’m a big boy, and big boys have desires/makin’ love is what i wanna do/but i need a true friend to make it come together.” it may seem prude, but he is telling the girl – i’m not afraid of losing you. this is a man who won’t let his fears of losing the girl rule his desire.
it is not better to hide your desire and your fears simply because you feel it’s easier that way. in the end it’s never always easier than the risk of losing your lover. love demands our vulnerability. however you compute love, that’s the only thing it truly demand of us – our raw vulnerability. it demands that you stand in front of your lover and say, “this is me. i don’t know if you will still love me after you know my dark secrets, but i really need you to know the real me.” let’s get one thing straight, i am not talking about you telling a new lover how an ex-lover maltreated you. that, usually is a recipe for disaster because most times you are indirectly letting the person know what leverage he/she can take with you. this is what i mean, imagine after dating someone for a while and you think he/she is the right one, you bring home your payslip and say “this is all i earn.” this means two things: we cannot aspire for what we cannot afford; i may not be able to give you what you want. either way, if the person is serious about you he/she will immediately respect your honest vulnerability and would return the favor.
you need to treat every lover the way you will treat your consideration of going out with your doctor or your banker – your doctor knows everything wrong with you physically, mentally and health-wise, and your banker, well, he/she knows how much you’re worth. but if they can go out with you knowing these vulnerabilities, then vulnerability will not be an issue for you two. a lover is never happy to find out you have been dying in silence because (out of fear of losing him/her) you couldn’t bring yourself to tell him/her you’re sick, or that you cannot pay for a trip or house he/she thinks you can afford because you’ve told them you are worth more than you are.
whenever i think of vulnerability three songs come to mind: freddie jackon’s “all i’ll ever ask.” freddie jackson says: “tell me your dreams, so they can be mine too/let me be there to help them come true/tell me your fears, when you feel afraid/come to my arms let me rock them away/that’s all i’ll ever ask, that’s all i’ll ever ask/that’s all i’ll ever ask, of you/come to my shoulder when you need to weep/wake me up, when you cannot sleep/talk to me, when you want to be heard/be silent with me, when you can’t say a word.” jennifer hudson’s “giving myself.” jennifer says: “for the first time/i can stand in front of someone/finally i can be me/i can just let my love spill over/i can cry/i don’t have to lie/i can finally let someone all the way inside/all the way/all the way, baby/all the way/all the way.” and amy winehouse’s “you know i’m no good.” amy says: “i cheated myself,/like i knew i would,/i told you i was trouble,/you know that i’m no good,/upstairs in bed, with my ex-boy,/he’s in a place, but i can’t get joy,/thinking on you in the final throes,/this is when my buzzer goes,/run out to meet you, chips and pitta,/you say, “when we’re married,”/’cause you’re not bitter,/”there’ll be none of him no more,”/i cried for you on the kitchen floor.” these singers are saying, i want to know you, i am not afraid for you to know me, and this is me, take it or leave it, respectively. one thing runs through the three songs – demand of vulnerability, offer of vulnerability, and revelation of vulnerability. the wish to know and be known.
it’s an irony of love that we say we want to be known, but we do not let ourselves be known because we cannot handle the fear of losing someone with the desire to be known at the same time. believe me, it doesn’t matter who you are, king/queen or pauper, if you let fear rule your desire your truth will always be tinged by the fear of losing your lover. when you don’t know the benefits of being vulnerable, whatever you say will always be tinged with the fear of losing your lover. i mean everything you say, even when you think you are speaking the truth, your truth is first processed through the fear of losing your lover. have you ever found yourself saying, “what would happen if i told him/her all the truth?” and then you proceed to tell only a bit of the truth. you haven’t told a lie, but your truth has been tinged by the fear of losing your lover. imagine what your lover will think when the whole truth is revealed – never mind that your lover will be disappointed, the truth becomes a lie. it is never a pure truth when it is tinged by the fear of abandonment or rejection. until you can confront that fear you cannot truly speak your truth, in a pure and unadulterated way, to the person you so desperately want to know you.
you can only be able to love without thinking you need that love to survive when you’ve have confronted your vulnerability. once you confront the fear of losing your lover, you will find you feel more intimate with your lover. you are then more willing to share who you are and what you desire, because you are no longer under the constriction of the fear that you will lose your lover. when you overcome this fear you love from your desire to love, not from your need to love, not from your need for your lover’s presence, not from your heart clutching to his/her heart out of fear. loving without the fear of losing your lover is a purer, more meaningful love. after all, isn’t that what we all desire? isn’t that the whole point of being in love?
every lover is ruled by this fear. but how do you overcome this fear? what i am going to say next is not absolute. this may not be the best way to overcome the fear of losing your lover. but this series (love is organic) is based on how i have learnt and been taught in my relationships – so, my situation may not replicate yours. this is what i have learnt by being organically involved in the quandary called love. this is what the lovers in my life have taught me: first, stop trying to control things. i have learnt that though it may seem terrible at first, we are all vulnerable to losing someone. you see, most things in life is out of our control – especially what the future holds. the same is true of the fear of losing your lover. second, i have learnt to accept that your lover’s fears are likely to trigger your own fears. have you ever noticed every time your lover speaks of being bored, you immediately interpret this to mean he/she is saying you’re boring, and you may feel a deep fear of rejection. but i have learnt that even if you feel this way, give your lover the chance to express his/her fears instead of letting your reaction-fear dominate a discussion of his/her fears. also, make some room for the expression of your own fear, let your lover know how you feel. but most importantly, remember, just because he/she says he/she is bored it is not always on account of you. it is the vagary of romance that though you may enjoy a lot of activities together, two lovers never have fun the same way. third, i have learnt the values of sharing my innermost fears with my lover. the idea here is not for you to blame your lover, but for you to own your own fears. for instance, instead of saying “why must we always get the things you want? is a brand-new car really necessary now?” you can say “i feel we might compromise our finances if we got the car now. remember we both agreed we need to complete our house.” fourth, my lovers have taught me to listen to their fears. it is very easy to try to bully your lover’s fears into submission through belittling, humiliating, shaming and threatening the fear by uttering snide remarks. have you ever said to your lover, “do you want to go out with someone else?,” or “you and your fears. you are always afraid of one thing or the other,” or “why can’t you just relax and be happy for once?” if you have, this tactic of trying to bully or frighten your lover into not voicing his/her fears because you are afraid of discussing/confronting the fears will backfire. a stonewalling lover is the last person you want living with you. have ever been sitting with your lover and you can tell something is wrong you ask “what’s wrong,” and he/she says “it’s no big deal, i’ll deal with it.” you have? then start practicing how to read the writings on the wall because that’s the place the fruition of your fears of losing him/her will be revealed. i have learnt that whatever you do, do not try to minimize or fix your lover’s fears – if you do, nothing gets resolved, and it will only leave you with the contemplation that something is wrong. believe me, nothing engenders the fear of losing a lover more than knowing they are unhappy but won’t let you in on their fears – and this is the hard lesson i have learnt, that you cannot truly love someone when you are afraid of losing him/her.