Dear Andrew, Whenever I start going out with a new boyfriend, I can always find some reason to reject him within the first few dates.
Dear Andrew, I've been dating a guy for several months now that I know is not going to be "the one" (he is way too young for me) but we're having fun so I don't see why I should break up with him.
Dear Andrew, I have tremendous problems letting go and enjoying intimacy with my husband. Whenever he gets close, I tense up and all thoughts of arousal fly out the window.
Can you spot the common theme? The first young woman is afraid men will reject her, so she gets them first. The next woman is afraid she won't be able to make a real relationship work, so she puts herself in a situation that is sure to fail for some external reason ... therefore the failure will have nothing to do any of her own possible inadequacies. The final scenario features a wife who is afraid to let her husband too close lest he see the "real" her, where she lets her guard down completely; she is afraid if he sees the real her, he'll realize she isn't good enough.
In a word, fear ... brought on by longstanding feelings of low self-worth.
Looking back over the many Dismaying Stories on this site, this type of fear is one of the common elements in the questions I receive. It can exhibit itself as a critical inner voice, raging insecurity, or choosing not to take normal chances in your love life. These kinds of feelings seem to be incredibly common.
So how about you? Have you ever had a moment when you wondered if you were good enough? (And who hasn't?) Did this impact how someone perceived you? (Maybe they thought you were uninterested, when you were really feeling insecure or shy.) Are any of your relationships affected by these types of fears? Are the impacts huge, or is this just a minor, every-once-in-a-while thing with you?
Perhaps you've noticed this tendency in the people you know. Can you relate an anonymous story that demonstrates the kind of impact such fear can have on someone's life?
Or maybe you have a different interpretation of what causes the types of behavior I described. Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.