Why Am I Afraid of Marrying the Man I Love?

Dear Neil:  I am 28 years-old, and my two-year relationship with my boyfriend is the first serious relationship I have been in.  Our first six months together were amazing and totally blissful.  I was the first to say “I love you.”  After six months, I got extremely anxious and scared because I didn’t know how I felt.  I love this man, but the thought of forever freaks me out, and I don’t know why.

We have a great foundation, tons in common, same religion, families get along great, friends get along great, we have fun together and we respect each other.  We are at the point where we are either going to move forward or we’re not.  But I’m just not sure, and still don’t have the “feelings” I always thought I would have when I was ready to marry someone.  I talk to him about everything and tell him my fears, and he is very patient with me and respects my feelings.  I don’t know why I am so freaked out.  I can’t imagine living without him, but I also can’t imagine living with these feelings forever.  Can you help me?

Doubtful in Denver

Dear Doubtful:  The first step is to figure out what you’re so afraid of.

An intimate partner can be your best friend, but he can also be the person you most fear because he has your sense of stability, well being, peace of mind, self-image and sense of future within his control.

To truly commit to another person exposes the fear that if the other person was to die or otherwise abandon us, we would feel such total rejection, and such complete loneliness and vulnerability, that we just might wither away to nothing.  Another common fear of commitment involves being afraid that the other person will eventually take us over, consuming and controlling us to the point where we lose ourselves and our individual identities.

So fearful are we of either abandonment or being taken over, that we are often afraid to wholly give ourselves to another.  It is safer not to.  We don’t risk so much.

Also, Steven Carter and Julia Sokol, in their excellent book He’s Scared, She’s Scared (M.J.F. Books) remind us that walking along-side each of us is a dream of the ideal partner, the soul mate, the karmic connection.  This is the partner we are waiting for.  In our dreams, s/he is the Right One.  We worry that if we settle down with someone else, we won’t be free if Mr. or Ms. Right shows up.  We believe that just maybe there will be someone more attractive, more capable, more affluent or cuter out there for us.

Part of growing up means relinquishing those fantasies about the perfect partner and the perfect relationship.  Also accommodating to another can produce a kind emotional claustrophobia, making us feel trapped, stuck, tied down, boxed in, restricted.  Figure out the ways in which you fear being controlled by someone else.

It does seem as if you have a fairy tale image of the way things should feel—that you shouldn’t have doubts or fears, that you should be completely swept off your feet, that you shouldn’t feel discomfort or uncertainty.  Examine precisely what your fears, hesitations and concerns are.  Then tell your boyfriend, and see if the two of you can initiate a very honest discussion about these issues.

This is the time to learn how to address truthful emotions as they arise, which is essential because it relates to you being authentic, genuine and real with your boyfriend.  Give this promising relationship an honest chance of making it.  As people we have been given the ability to communicate with one another.  Use that gift.

6 comments on “Why Am I Afraid of Marrying the Man I Love?

  1. Yes, to everything above. I am 60 years old. Lost my husband after 30+ years of marriage. The marriage was probably not the best….but we both stuck it out because that is the way we were raised. But loss is still loss. My life changed drastically after he died. I had to come face to face with finding my own identity and a new one without him. I fear giving so much of myself away again because I don’t want the loss to happen all over again. Not long after his death, I fell in love with my high school sweet heart. It was the greatest feeling. I felt that I had met my true soul mate. We planned to get married. But in the middle of it all, I began to have major fears and doubts of many things about him. His financial instability, his past life of many relationships and then a divorce. As much as I was drawn to him,….I was equally pulling away from him. I slipped into the should I or shouldn’t I mode. I began ruminating everyday and fell into depression and then isolation. I have broke up with him 5 times. And now 8 years later, I am still no where near fearless of commitment. Wish I could help you on how to get through it. I can’t. I have tried. I read everything in sight. But my fear will not leave me. Each time I broke it off, I missed him terribly. I would go back and be happy for awhile and then his pressure on me to commit to marriage scares me all over again. I wish I could feel good with not so much doubt, fear and hesitation.

    • Sandra, reading your story made me feel certain of something: you tried and thats what’s important. Even being scared you still jumped in the relationship. Even breaking up five times you still tried it. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hi.im 37 years old with 2 kids aged 9 and 1 months.my boyfriend of 10years wants 2 marry me but I’m totally scared and not sho if I want 2 be married by him cause all he has ever done is hurting me so many times.I feel like I’m beta off with my kids and being single.he is so controlling,liar,Johny walker,alcoholism,abuser and a cheater.actually I’m so angry at him and I dnt no if I ll ever forgive him.Im not so sure if I still luv him.he found me so young and happy with no child working 4 myself and he took away my happiness in the name of love.Im not happy.

  3. I’m 33, I’ve dated him for six years. I have broken up with him over four times and I go back to him everytime. Im so scared of marrying him. We are left with a month to marry. He loves me immensely but I don’t know why I’m too afraid to marry. I have doubt of what if it doesn’t work out?

  4. I am 66 years old and have cancer(although doctors say I will live a full life), he told me last night he wants to move to me and marry me immediately so if the cancer does take me early he won’t be left without a place to live. We have never met and live on opposite sides of the U.S., although we have talked via phone, emails, texts and video for a year and a half. We have argued a lot, I keep finding out he has kept things from me.. he is still married(ended MANY YEARS ago), he was on meth but says he gave it up for me, his temper frightens me, he has an ‘alleged’ son who is in prison for helping murder 4 people, he is secretive.. and THAT puts up HUGE red flags for me (along with all of the rest), he has a dog that has never been trained(a story in itself), I am SO HESITANT to let him move to me. Am I wrong to feel that way? I do truly love him, and he says he loves me too.. but I’m not so sure that he does. I would sure appreciate some advice.

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