Let’s talk about how your fear of losing him is pushing him away and ruining everything.
It happens to the best of us. You’re seeing a guy, things are off to a great start, and just as you start to get excited about what’s to come, you are suddenly gripped by the absolute terror and fear of losing him.
Then you may notice the dynamic start to shift. He seems to pull back a little, he’s not as into it or excited by you and now you are fully panic-stricken. All you can think about is how to keep him, how to make him chase you again, and how to get it all back on track.
First, take a breath. Stressing is just going to make everything worse. Now let’s talk about what to do to salvage things.
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First, I want to give your our definition of fear of loss.
Fear of loss = you feel that if you lost your relationship with him, you would lose something important beyond simply not seeing him or speaking to him anymore. Losing him has big implications for you if you attach your sense of worth to his opinion of you and to your relationship status with him. You fear losing him because you will also lose some self-esteem. Fear of loss is also a fear of being not good enough, of being not OK. You’re afraid if you lose him, you won’t ever be OK, so you cling tightly and desperately.
Now let’s talk about how this looks.
I’m going to give a personal story. Kurt was the first guy I really sparked with after a devastating breakup that left me hollow and empty and unable to feel anything for anyone for about two years. It was exciting to finally have a crush again and also a relief to learn I wasn’t dead inside and I could feel something for someone who wasn’t my ex.
I was working as a fashion writer at the time and we met right before fashion week, an intensely crazy and chaotic time. I was young and ambitious and really trying to crack into the industry so I had a jam-packed schedule from morning through the wee hours of night and I tried to squeeze in time with Kurt when I could.
I did like him, but I wasn’t really thinking about it so much because I just had so much else going on.
And because of that, he really pursued me and it was clear he really liked me.
When fashion week ended (it was more like fashion three weeks!), I had a lot more open space in my life and I wanted to fill it with him.
But now I started noticing things, like how long took him to text me back. It could have taken him 3 days to text me back before and I wouldn’t have known. But now… if it took him more than 10 minutes I would start to panic.
I also really noticed when he had to cancel plans (I obviously noticed this before too, I just didn’t care because I had so many other backup plans!), and I took it personally. Is he blowing me off for some other girl? Is he losing interest in me? Did I do something to turn him off?
I tried to maintain my cool girl persona, but I couldn’t help but react to these things and I know my sudden neediness was off-putting for him (as neediness is for most men!).
I also caught myself daydreaming about him and thinking about him obsessively. I couldn’t help but wonder where things were going and felt excited by the prospect of a new boyfriend, but also terrified of losing him.
And as I was doing that, he seemed to be pulling away.
I was hearing from him less and less, but he was still popping up on occasion so I had hoped things would get back on track. The more he distanced himself, the more nervous energy started bubbling up to the surface.
Then he disappeared for a full week. OK, I guess that’s that.
But then he popped up again saying something about how he thought I was in Paris for fashion week and I didn’t even care what he thought (or even how ridiculous of an excuse that was, they have cell service in Paris!), I was grateful he was back and would voraciously consume any scarps did he he dish my way.
And that’s all I got at this point, scraps.
One night after not hearing from him for a few days I was out with my friends and he texted me at 1am and I went straight over to his house without hesitation. Low value woman behavior at its finest!
This was the last time I saw him, I think i just hit a new level of pathetic. I don’t think there was anything interesting about me to him anymore, I was just so desperate. I mean, what self-respecting girl ditches her friends and runs over to a guy’s house when he has demonstrated that he really can’t be bothered with her and she’s just an afterthought?
That was me, I was the afterthought. Anyway, after that booty call night, I didn’t hear from him at all. I think 3 weeks passed and then I got a call from him and I immediately forgave him before I even picked up the phone but he wasn’t calling to apologize, he had called me by accident thinking he was calling some other girl.
He hung up the phone after realizing his mistake and I never heard from him again. (But that experience was actually a pivotal one for me and effectively inspired me to create A New Mode, so thanks Kurt!).
OK, what’s the point of this story? It’s to illustrate what happens when the fear of loss takes hold.
And side point- whenever I tell this story people will say, “Oh he sounds like a narcissist” but I don’t think that at all. Was he a jerk? Yeah, kind of. But also, I was accepting it! I was fully embracing the way he was treating me and I was coming back for more. It’s human behavior to get away with as much as you can and I think in his mind, he saw that I was hooked, I wasn’t going anywhere, and he didn’t need to do anything for keep me coming back… so he didn’t. People are just so quick to label any bad behavior as narcissism and I’m not saying narcissists don’t exist, they definitely do, but not everyone who treats you badly is a narcissist, sometimes they’re just regular jerks.
As Oprah or Dr. Phill says, we teach the world how to treat us. I was saying it’s OK to treat me this way and so he did and I needed to accept responsibility for that.
I wanted to show you what the fear of loss mentality looks like. It’s desperate and needy and it just kills the dynamic.
It comes from a place of attaching your worth onto a guy. I went into the situation with Kurt already broken. My previous relationship really ripped my self-esteem to shreds and here was this hot guy giving me attention and a feeling of worth and worthiness. It woke something up in me that I didn’t even realize I needed but now it felt like I couldn’t survive without it.
So how do we fix this?
First, you have to work on your feelings of self-worth, and this is an internal process. You can’t outsource it to a guy. You have to find your value again. You have to fill yourself up so there are no empty voids. (Read this article for more tips to become a high-value woman)
One way is to have a lot going on in your life so you stop putting so much pressure on the relationship. Keep yourself busy but not just for the sake of being busy. (If you do that, you’ll end up like me. I was great when I was busy, but as soon as I had some open space the needy monster grew out of control!)
Fill your time with things that bring you meaning and true joy. Try to connect to your essence- what is that one thing that makes you feel alive? The thing that makes you feel like, “Oh, this is why I was put on this earth). Do more of that thing!
Next, try just to take it as it comes. Stop jumping ahead so many steps ahead and wondering if this will work out long term, if he’s the one, where it’s all heading- just take it moment by moment. This is how most men operate in a relationship and it’s a much healthier approach! Try to just be present. Don’t get all excited about a fantasy future and don’t stress yourself out by solving problems before there are any problems to solve. Try to just be.
If you’re on a date with him, just focus on whether tryouts want to go on another date- not on how serious he is, if he’s someone you can marry, etc.
Also, keep your options open! I know, I know, it’s so hard when you meet a guy you like. But even if you don’t want to physically go out on dates, mentally keep your options open. Don’t delete your dating apps or shut down any guy who approaches you at a bar. Mentally entertain other possibilities. When you do this, you take some of the pressure off of the relationship. You also make it much easier on yourself if things end because you were never fully committed.
Also, it just makes you more appealing because he will know he doesn’t fully have you and that creates more of a sense of urgency, like he better step up because you may not be on the market for long.
Also, make this your mantra: I will be OK. I know how stressful and scary it feels when you like a guy and have no idea where he stands. It feels like there is a lot on the line. But no matter what, you will be OK. Tell this to yourself as many times as needed.
And above all, remember that you don’t win someone over by bending over backward for them. This will never earn you respect. You win someone over by having self-respect and having standards and sticking to them
Trust that things will work out as they are meant to. You can’t control how things unfold- you can only bring your best to the table and trust it will all work out.
If you want to know more about why guys pull away and exactly what to do to get the relationship back on track, read this next: If He’s Pulling Away, Do This...