I frequently reference the connection between grief (A.K.A. fear of loss) and dating in my Instagram posts, but for folks who neither have read nor listened to my longer form work–or do not know me–the connection may seem ambiguous at best. So, let me break it down.
It never ceases to amaze me how often clients come to me describing their desire for a certain type of relationship–someone who is emotionally available, loving, supportive, compassionate, honest…you know, all of the things that adults are (rightfully) taught are healthy and good in relationships. Yet, many of these clients are not willing to do the internal work to become all of these things themselves. They want someone who is emotionally available (which requires the willingness to be vulnerable), yet they themselves are often defensive. They want someone who is willing to check their ego at the door, yet they themselves struggle with power. They want someone who has good boundaries/can respect their boundaries, yet they don’t practice establishing good internal or external boundaries for themselves (and, this often leads to the aforementioned defensiveness/passive-aggressiveness). They want someone who is confident and steady yet their own self-image is constantly placed at the feet of others (e.g. they’re often performing wokeness or projecting a certain image, whether that be the image of being “good,” “powerful,” a “leader” etc., and they’re constantly looking to other people to affirm this belief about themselves. So, the way they see themselves is often volatile, which leads to emotionally instability).
All of these things are tied to grief and fear of loss. Usually, when people think of grief, they think of concrete, past loss. But grief is so much bigger than what’s already happened to us; grief is connected to what we fear, love, and aspire towards. Most people have a very narrow, short-sighted focus on grief that is tied to concrete losses in the past. But fear of loss is a type of grief specifically tied to the future (i.e. things that are abstract/in our minds and have yet to transpire).
People who are defensive and fear vulnerability are often afraid of losing safety; people who struggle with power are often afraid of losing control; people who are afraid of boundaries are often afraid of rejection. The list goes on and on. All of this is connected to impermanence, AKA ‘fear of loss’, AKA grief-by-another-name.
I encourage my clients to be open and honest about what they’re willing to give–and what they’re willing to lose–in order to receive the thing (i.e. type of love) they require. For example, re you willing to lose the facade of control in order to embrace vulnerability so that you can have the healthy interpersonal relationships your desire (i.e. friendships, familial relationships, dating)? Are you willing to let go of the old, comfortable way of being that has kept you from actualizing the life you imagine?
If you want to be surrounded by people who are emotionally available, then what must you do daily to embody the type of relationships you hope to attract? Because people who are emotionally available, vulnerable, confident, have good boundaries etc likely put in a lot of of hard work to embody those characteristics. They likely do not surround themselves with people who could compromise their peace. They almost certainly have an intimate relationship with fear of loss and have developed the courage to commit to engaging that fear in order to actualize the life and relationships that they want. In other words, they were willing to let go of who they were, shedding the things that no longer served them, in order to become. In order to evolve.
Growth is not for the faint of heart.
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