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Fear: Your Secret to Relationship Growth

You are welcome to share Dr. Gloria Lee’s article:

Person standing on the top of a building facing the city. Face Fears for Deeper Connection

Face Fears for Deeper Connection

Why is fear an essential part of change?

As a relationship psychologist, I encounter this conundrum frequently. My clients, like many of us, wish for change in their relationship but balk at the process. We crave the outcome but want to bypass the inherent risks of getting there.

Our fears get in the way. We are haunted by our past hurts and baggage accumulated from years of unresolved conflict.

We ponder the “what if’s”, like…

“What if this doesn’t work?”

“What if the change is temporary and things go back to the way they were?” 

“What if I try and get hurt again?”

Or we “yah but” everything…

“Yah but he’s only changing because you (the therapist) are telling him to.”

“Yah but she’s going to find something else to complain about, as she always does.”

“Yah but we’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.”

Our fears keep us trapped in our stuck ways of relating. Our fears talk us out of change before they can even happen. Our fears demotivate us to do things differently.

As writer and marketer Seth Godin masterfully states: 

“How do I get rid of the fear?” Alas, this is the wrong question. The only way to get rid of the fear is to stop doing things that might not work, to stop putting yourself out there, to stop doing work that matters. No, the right question is, ‘How do I dance with the fear?’”

Indeed, fear is a non-negotiable part of all relationships. We can’t trade it in for a safer option. It’s part of the package.

In a nutshell, our greatest fear in relationships is risking vulnerability with the one who can hurt us the most.

So we trade vulnerability for something safer. Complacency or worse, resentment.

But here’s the thing. If we really desire intimacy and depth with the person who we are meant to be the closest with, then we need to “dance with the fear”.

Dancing with fear, much like dancing with a partner, requires movement and engagement. Here are some ways to dance with your fear so you can elicit change in your relationship:

Approach it: Acknowledge your fear instead of avoiding it.

Ask For Its Name: Identify the specific fear holding you back.

Hold Its Hand: Embrace the discomfort and uncertainty.

Experience the Joy of Movement: Discover the growth and new opportunities that come from facing your fears.

Embrace the Awkwardness: Understand that feeling uncomfortable is part of the process.

Move Beyond Your Comfort Zone: Push yourself to take actions that challenge your fears.

Celebrate the Journey: Recognize and celebrate the progress you make along the way.


Remember, when one partner makes a different dance move, it inevitably changes the entire dance. As American country singer Lee Ann Womack prayerfully sings,   

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance,
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some Hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance.

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