Men who fear getting hurt often sacrifice the possibility of finding happiness in a relationship. According to clinical psychologist Seth Meyers, Psy.D., men who suffer from a fear of intimacy within a relationship usually avoid closeness by becoming emotionally or verbally abusive, withholding sex, or cheating. Other men with such fears avoid relationships altogether. Help your man overcome his fears of getting hurt in your relationship by approaching him with a non-judgemental attitude. Offer your full support and, if needed, seek professional help together.
Talk About It
If you have noticed your man’s fears of getting hurt affecting your relationship, talk to him in a non-judgemental way and tell him what you are observing. Talk when you are both calm, not during times of emotional sensitivity, suggests Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., psychology expert on relationships, in her HuffingtonPost.com article, "5 Strategies for Dealing With Your Partner's Fear of Intimacy." Keep in mind that it is good for your man to hear that he has your support, so say it often and with sincerity -- even if he questions it.
Break the Reactive Patterns
It is easy to get stuck in a cycle of emotional reactivity with your man if he is afraid of getting hurt. If he responds to his fears by shutting down or becoming aggressive, you may become offended or, in contrast, grow clingy. He may, in turn, find this offensive and pull away even more. Give him space, but show him affection. This will affirm to him that he is appreciated, a feeling that will help alleviate his fears in the relationship.
What's Your Role?
Evaluate yourself to determine if you play a role in your partner's fears. Are you behaving in ways that will trigger feelings related to his fears? Firestone has pinpointed reasons that cause men, in general, to shut down emotionally in their relationships. These include dealing with a partner who: constantly nags and complains; treats her partner in a condescending manner; constantly threatens to leave; and doesn't allow her partner to safely express his feelings.
Seek Outside Help
If all your best efforts and strategies do not effectively help your man deal with his fears of getting hurt in your relationship, try professional counseling. A trained therapist can help your man uncover past and present issues related to his fears. You relationship will benefit as you learn tips to maintain a healthy connection. Finally, your man must be willing to change. "There is hope for men who are afraid of relationships, but they must be disciplined about trying to change and honest with themselves about how dysfunctional their romantic life has been as a result of their relationship fears," Meyers says in his PsychologyToday.com article, "Fear of Intimacy in Men: Cause, Relationship Problems, Tips."
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Latoya Newman is a novelist who wrote and published her first novel in 2012. She has a background in education, research and counseling. She taught at the elementary level for eight years, and has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada.
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