Ask Sahaj: How do I get over my “unshakable fear” of being dumped?

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Dear Sahaj: I am a 24 year old female and have been in a straight relationship for three years. Everything went well, but I have an unshakable fear of being dumped – as if that was the worst thing that could happen, no matter how respectful or rational that decision.

This is my first relationship, but it feels like a deeper issue, and I don’t want it to influence my relationship habits in the future.

The fact that I have this fear means that even small, normal amounts of conflict in the relationship are really loaded for me, and therefore for him. We have something beautiful, which I want to learn to enjoy more by being mentally and emotionally present. I don’t want to be driven by the fear of losing him.

How to get rid of the fear of rejection?

Wondering: While it’s perfectly normal to want to belong, be loved, and have successful relationships, a chronic fear of rejection can point to something bigger, like past trauma. Consider where this fear of rejection comes from and how it manifested for you as a child, growing up, or in other relationships. If the fear is deeply rooted in something more painful than your current relationship, I encourage you to seek out a professional to work on healing that hurt.

When we believe something about ourselves, no matter how much we don’t want to believe it, we can begin to act unconsciously in ways that make it true. I hear insecurity and lack of confidence in your question. Take a second to digest these two questions:

Do you believe that you are lovable? Do you believe you are worthy of love?

While you want this relationship to work, think about whether you’re behaving in a way that could sabotage your relationship. This may seem like placing unrealistic expectations on your boyfriend. Also, ask yourself if there are any realistic unmet needs, such as verbal validation, that may help you feel more secure with him. Although your boyfriend may be supportive, you’ll have to think on your own.

First romantic relationships often have a steep learning curve. But three years is a long time! This isn’t new, which means you and your boyfriend have achieved some stability in your relationship. Yet you still fear it will end. It makes me wonder if it’s the Happiness part that makes you so uncomfortable or concerned about the ending.

You deserve to be happy. Don’t overlook this…. You. Deserve. TO. Be. Happy. If you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, or if you’re somehow convinced that you don’t deserve it, then you’re not really there in your relationship. It’s not easy to learn, but there are things you can practice implementing in your life to help you learn to accept happiness, build your confidence, and focus on the present.

You can schedule worrying times into your week and only during that time allow yourself to panic about being rejected. You can practice mindfulness by focusing on the breath and noticing your emotions and bodily sensations that provide exemptions to this fear of rejection. You can say affirmations in the mirror morning and night to remind yourself that you are worthy. You can ask your friends and other connections what they like about you and keep the list handy to remind yourself that you deserve it.

You may also want to learn how to reframe conflict resolution as something that is beneficial to your relationship rather than something that is harmful. By caring enough about each other to resolve any conflict, you and your boyfriend are actually allowing each other to grow together, and that’s wonderful.

Sahaj Kaur Kohli, creator of Brunette girl therapy and a mental health professional, answers questions about identity, relationships, mental health, work-life balance, family dynamics and more. If you have a question for her, please submit it here.



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