Overcoming Fear of Relationships with Counseling
In a previous post, I addressed the topic of Fear of Relationships (Romantic Anxiety). In this post, I will discuss how counseling can help you overcome this fear. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy that can be particularly helpful in addressing fear of relationships. It is similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in that it addresses the interrelationship between thoughts and behaviors. DBT consists of four skill sets, each with various tools to cultivate those skills:
- Mindfulness: Cultivating awareness of the present moment without judgment
- Emotional Regulation: Learning to experience emotions in the present moment without becoming overwhelmed and behaving in destructive ways
- Distress Tolerance: Building resilience to distressing events to make healthy decisions about how you interact with your world
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: Learning how to set and enforce boundaries, express thoughts and feelings, and cultivate safe, healthy relationships
Examining potential childhood influences and past relationships sheds light on romantic anxiety. This simple inventory is not meant to judge but rather to understand what is there. Mindfulness also involves awareness of current feelings in the present moment about past influences and current situations. By being mindful of fear, you can leverage it to see other ways to protect yourself without living in fear of intimacy.
Emotional regulation involves examining how emotions impact decisions and behaviors. Once you are mindful of these dynamics, you can learn to regulate emotions in ways that are not so upsetting. Emotions can be a wonderful source of information about your internal world and surroundings. Using emotions to help you is a skill that can be taught. For instance, imagine feeling nervous about a first date but experiencing it as more excitement instead of anxiety. It’s how we use our thoughts that determines whether the feeling is enjoyable or uncomfortable. I know that sounds crazy, but consider this fact: fear and exhilaration are biochemically identical (adrenaline, cortisol, and testosterone), so what makes one enjoyable and the other terrifying? Yep.
Rejection or the end of a relationship can be painful, but learning to bounce back from it is an essential life skill. Building resilience, or the ability to bounce back, is key. Various techniques can be learned to cultivate resilience, making you more confident in your ability to overcome pain, and therefore, helping you overcome fear.
Practicing skills in real-world situations is a crucial step towards feeling more comfortable taking risks in the dating world. This involves using mindfulness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance to your advantage in day-to-day interactions. As you become more comfortable, social skills can be added to help you approach romance with a sense of excitement and adventure.
Overall, counseling can provide the necessary tools to overcome a fear of relationships. By learning and applying these skills, you can cultivate healthy relationships and overcome romantic anxiety.s
Updated December 5, 2023
Learn more about Counseling for Anxiety in Austin.
Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s has worked in the helping profession since he started college in 1990. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in 1994, he attended the highly-regarded University of Minnesota to earn his Master’s degree in 1997. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is recognized as a Board Approved Supervisor by the State of Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Jonathan has completed Level 2 of the Gottman Method of Couples Counseling, and in 1998 received training from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Advanced Critical Incident Stress Management & Debriefing. To learn more about Jonathan’s practice, click here: Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s.