Everyone seeks acceptance, approval and affection. However, intimacy can be a scary thing especially if you’ve had a bad experience in the past. There is the fear of rejection and disappointment in all people, although some individuals cope by pushing people away as a pre-emptive measure and protection against pain.
If you want to build authentic relationships with friends and create a lasting relationship with another, you must let go of the fear of rejection and pain and stop pushing people away. Here’s what you can do.
- Build your self-esteem. Learn to love yourself first and realize that people aren’t out to hurt you because there is something wrong with you. You are valuable and you deserve love and intimacy from others. Just because you had a bad experience in the past doesn’t mean it will happen again. Engage in activities that you enjoy and challenge you. Go back to school, join a hobby group, a book club, marathon or volunteer. Doing something that improves you as a person will help you feel better about yourself.
- Change your inner dialogue. Replace thoughts of self-doubt and other self-destructive dialogue with positive, life affirming mantras. Whenever you start feeling doubtful or scared in a social situation and you feel compelled to withdraw or push people away, take a deep breath and start saying to yourself that things will be alright. Remind yourself that you have value and have much to offer to the world, so other people genuinely like you.
- Instead of pushing, consider standing still. If you’re too afraid to walk up to someone, be available and let someone walk up to you. Smile and make eye contact. Don’t reject everyone right off the bat. Listen to what the other has to say. If you feel any sort of attraction, see where it takes you.
- Take baby steps. If being in a social setting is too intimidating for you, try going on activities with a trusted friend, so you have a support person. In large parties, work small groups first. On a date, consider double dating. It will also give you the advantage of an outside opinion from a trusted person who has your best interests in mind.
- Learn from your past mistakes. Analyze what you did wrong in the past and learn from it. It won’t happen again if you are more careful, not if you avoid all interaction completely. Remember that it’s ok to take things slow.
- Engage the other person in conversation by asking questions. When you tread waters, be available for conversation. Talk to others by asking them about themselves. It will give you an idea of what kind of person the other is. If you are too shy about revealing much of yourself, try to find out what you can about the other before you do so. Don’t be rude when someone comes up to you.
- Seek professional help if your condition becomes debilitating. If you find that you can no longer make authentic connections with other people, talk to a therapist. He may give you coping skills and work out any past issues you may have difficulty addressing.
Establishing relationships and connections is difficult. You must realize and accept that for true intimacy to occur, you must be willing to risk yourself. It’s frightening to put yourself out there, but if you don’t, you won’t meet others not can you find true love and friendship.