Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

When afraid in a relationship, do you fight, or run away?

Asked by wundayatta (58663points) January 10th, 2010

When you are afraid—maybe of loss, or of being hurt, or of losing face, what do you do? Do you hide? Run out for a drink? Stay out late? Hide in your study? Or do you fight—get into an argument, maybe even hit? Or what?

Have you been afraid within a relationship? What made you afraid? How did you respond? Why did you respond in that way?

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38 Answers

cornbird's avatar

I would disscuss it with my girlfriend and if an argument arises well I will argue…but running away is certainly not the answer. When you run from things they have a habit of catching up with you.

nebule's avatar

I would talk about it…and ask for help…and if they weren’t the sort of person I could talk about it with…I’d seriously think about leaving…

marinelife's avatar

I have been afraid physically in a relationship. I stuck with it far too long. I found myself, when knowing the abuse was coming, of deliberately setting him off so I could “get it over with”, because the uncertainty was more painful than the abuse.

Jude's avatar

I was horrible in that I used to sabotage the relationship. I don’t anymore.

Holden_Caulfield's avatar

I do both (Not hit!)! They are self protective strategies I use to keep myself from being hurt first and again… but they do not always work. I know I am adept at adapting from past experiences and applying what I learned to new ones… but there are always those situations I have never encountered before. I have a bad habit of doing whatever I can to sabotage first… I am trying to change that. I want to learn how not to…

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Count me in the group of admitted self-saboteurs. Like many, I fight myself more than I fight anyone else. I have turned myself inside out in order to not do this anymore and it’s still an issue though nowhere as bad as in the past.

Have you been afraid within a relationship? What made you afraid?
Yes. I’ve been afraid in relationships I’ve really wanted mostly because I think the other person is going to do something awful and the feelings I’ve invested will choke me when I’m without that person.

How did you respond? Why did you respond in that way?
My typical response was to start verbally digging at the person about past actions, past relationships to see if they’d slip up and tell me something to confirm my fears about how they’d treat me. Anymore I pretty much catch myself pushing a person to clarify anything serious they’ve said to me so I can dismiss fluffy bs from what I believe to be the real truths. You can see the problem is I will believe what I want of the good thoughts and intentions which isn’t fair to the person speaking their truths.

A person who says they love me is immediately suspect even though I want to be loved very much and it takes great patience and tolerance on their part to get to my “gooey happy core”. I currently love someone immensely and in ways I’ve always wanted but thought I wasn’t capable and still I have freaked out a few times believing then not believing when he’s said he loves me.

stemnyjones's avatar


If it’s something I’m afraid will hurt our relationship or our lives together, I will try to talk to her about it – and usually we do talk about it, and work everything out.

If she’s arguing with me, though, I usually initially argue back, then realize what we’re doing and retreat into another room to cool off. Then one of us goes and apologizes to the other, and we’re fine.

Jude's avatar

Someone’s so close to 10K and needs some help.

I’m ready.

Silhouette's avatar

I have been afraid in a relationship, I was afraid of loss. Fear leads to all kinds of reactionary behavior and it’s usually a downward spiral of evasive or aggressive actions. I faced my fears and I gave myself credit where credit was due. I am worthy of love, I am a descent human being and the people who like me aren’t lying to me so they can sneak in a steal my silverware.

mrentropy's avatar

Being in a relationship with an alcoholic I find myself constantly being afraid. In the past I was all for talking, discussing, and getting into the argument if need be. Arguments never lasted long and afterward things could be a lot better just getting frustrations and annoyances off the chest.

With an alcoholic, though, there are all kinds of fears and many of them are, ultimately, baseless. There’s fear of setting off a drinking binge, even though one could start anyway. Fear of being hit or having things thrown at me. Fear of having my things broken. Fear of the person running out of the house, getting drunk and getting hurt (would happen anyway).

I find myself trying to maneuver out of conflict. Saying things just to cool things down, even if I don’t believe it or it isn’t true. I’ve left and waited until they sobered up to come back, just to get even more abuse for running away.

It’s not a fun life.

stemnyjones's avatar

@mrentropy Get your partner help. I promise you, his life is just as horrible as yours.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@mrentropy: I know what you say when you maneuver to avoid conflict in order to not have your home torn up, or for them not to harass you so you get no sleep or cause enough drama that impacts you going to your job on time, them hurting themselves, etc. The only person who will change though is one who makes the efforts (not the verbal kind) and it’s a rare person who will change in order to save a relationship or because they don’t want to keep hurting their partner or lose their partner all together. Most alcoholics are emotionally selfish people who will tell you “take it or leave it” and choose their ways over what could a better life for two, they always think there’s someone out there who will love them just as they are. Get yourself free if you can.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

My normal habit is to run away. There is a disparity in arguing skills where I would want to choose my words carefully, and fully articulate my case, and every word, every hesitation, would be turned upon me, and I would be left feeling emotionally gutted, without a leg to stand on. No matter what I said, I would not be right, or have a dog in the hunt. As a result, I would internalize everything, and just walk away. There were times when I would feel for my personal safety. Time has proven that I was not wrong in many circumstances, and that has bolstered my confidence. Unfortunately, he has no memory of anything that I have ever said, and now states things that he told me to be false reasoning on my part in the past as if they were gems of wisdom on his part.

I have become very aggressive on conflicts with this person, as if leading with my self-preservation. Sometimes perhaps too much so, to where I come across as crazy. But I feel the need to come out swinging in order to protect myself because I feel like I can’t count on fair play.

With other people, I rarely have conflicts. I usually accord people their side, state mine, and if they seem to hold stronger convictions, I agree to try their path. If it doesn’t work, we go back and try my ideas or something new.

It’s not important to me to be right; it is important that things move on in the best manner to avoid problems later on down the road.

Sophief's avatar

I am afraid in the relationship that I am in. I am afraid he will meet someone better, I am afraid I am not good enough. How do I respond? I diet, I exercise, I try to make sure I look good enough so that he won’t stray. If he said jump, I will say how high.

Holden_Caulfield's avatar

@Dibley you are living your life for someone else besides YOU! It is OKAY (even thought you may not feel that way) if he leaves. No matter what you do… you CANNOT meet some else’s expectations, whatever they may be. You must be you and be loved for YOU. If that isn’t good enough, then is it really worth it? Do you want to spend the rest of your life trying to be something you are not to meet an expectation that you do not know nor can ever really meet? Interestingly enoughy and counter intutitve to what you might believe… being yourself and truly you may actually turn things around for you, I will not even go into the abandonment issues you are experiencing… that is a completely different discussion. It boils down to this: Stop trying to please others and be YOU! Once that happens, you will be aware of how the dynamic works and better equipped to be yourself, without trying to please others. We must be authentic in ourselves to have a healty and loving reciprocal relationship with another…

mrentropy's avatar

@stemnyjones It’s a she. And it’s not up to me to get her help. I’ve tried to, but there’s always something wrong with what I do and so I get abuse heaped on me for that, too.

@hungryhungryhortence I’ve tried to. I even left. But feelings of guilt and responsibility have dragged me back.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@mrentropy: If you think she will crash, burn and attempt suicide if you leave her then you might be right but the odds are against her succeeding. Take the gamble and go. You get one mortal life and to live yours in misery is a disservice to the both of you since nothing you do helps her anyway. Most likely she will go on and get help… or not, up to her but I’ve seen several people go on and become better even if the relationship was irreparable. Myself, I’ve left several troubled people before because they would not help themselves- one got better and has a good life while the other is languishing.

stemnyjones's avatar

@mrentropy No, it’s not up to you to get her help, but if you love her then you might want to assist her in getting help. Interventions save people’s lives, and people suffering from addiction often don’t even realize that they are hurting others, because when they are using they are only thinking of themselves; but when they are clean, they can completely turn around.

This is coming frm a drug addict who has been clean for over a year now, who was a complete asshole until I got help, and now I am in a perfect relationship and have wonderful friends.

Just remember, alcoholics aren’t bad people – they are suffering from a disease that can be overcome.

Trillian's avatar

@Daloon. From a conflict management standpoint, the behavoiur you describe as a reaction to fear is called “avoidance”. When you say “get into an argument” you use the term in a negative sense, as if arguments were to be avoided. An argument is an airing of differing opinions by two or more parties, and in and of itself, and argument held between rational people without the implied ugliness attached is a good thing. It clears the air, leads to better understanding and heightened sense of unity in a couple. It can also lead to creative solutions.
The things you fear involved in conflict probably stem from your early life, whether it was family, or social conflict resolution styles.
A closer examination of your feelings about conflict may be in order. In a relationship, some conflict is to be expected. HOW you deal with the conflict is the issue. Avoidance has many tactics, as you listed a few. There is also competition, which is a good approach to some issues but generally not in a couple type relationship. Competitive types are aggressive and uncooperative. The tactics associated with competitiveness can result with threats, verbal aggression, bullying, etc. Compromise is a style of conflict that works well and results in gains and losses for both sides. Collaboration uses critical thinking and looks for creative solutions that win/win resolution. Compliance, which is not a good thing, allows the person to be completely taken for granted and builds resentment. Collaboration is generally the best approach to conflict, but you need to have to intelligent and understanding people to make it work.
Something else involved in conflict is called “Identity goals” and how you perceive yourself, how you feel about how others perceive you , face saving issues are tied up in this. I suspect that your identity is called into question by you when you feel conflict coming on.
Conflict is about power. High power/low power…who has power, who wants power, is part of the issue.
I suspect that with the things you’ve told me already that you perceive yourself as having low power. What you should realize is that everyone has power in some form or another. Whether it’s resource control, networking linkages, communication skills, expertise, we all have power. And remember that even people in low power positions can make significant changes. If you want to discuss more in-depth about conflict and power, let me know.

loser's avatar

I tend to push people away. That way I can’t get hurt from being abandoned. It doesn’t make sense and often causes some unnecessary drama and hurt, but that’s what I do.

borderline_blonde's avatar

I witdraw. I hate drama or conflict, so I typically try to avoid it. Not that it really helps the situation any, but it’s a natural reflex.

wundayatta's avatar

The only power I have comes from being reasonable. If someone goes beyond being reasonable, then I lose. If someone is so convinced their position is correct, then I will always break, and just go along with what they say. I was convinced that if I ever went against my wife, she would leave me, and so I put up with a lot of frustration and unhappiness just to avoid that outcome.

We worked on that for a while, and I came to believe she was willing to give me some slack, but she did lay out a bottom line It’s not a bottom line I can live with and still get what I’m looking for from life, and yet if I cross that line, I lose her. It is non-negotiable. I know that I will cross it someday, because the tension is too much. I can’t talk to her about it because to talk to her is to admit that I want to cross that line, which, in her mind, is the same as crossing the line.

So I get depressed, because it is impossible to accept myself and impossible not to be myself, and there is only pain no matter what I do—some mine, some hers, some my children’s, some the community’s. Yeah. Depression is the proper answer, because then I can take it all out on myself.

Yeah, growing up, arguing was a death sentence. You can’t win if you argue. You can only lose. I never saw an argument clear the air. It cleared the room. Everyone went off to hide.

In my marriage, she always wins the battle about who does more. She has a gazillion lists, and every time she wants to talk about them, I dread it because I know it’ll only end with her whimpering about how she can’t do it all, and will I do these things that I don’t think need to be done.

I have no time of my own—on my own, except for what I sneak on the computer, but even that creates tension because she resents this time or is afraid of this time, too. But I don’t have a night out with the boys, or any crowd to hang with, except the crazy people in my group—and that’s an hour or two maybe once a month, on average.

I’m here all the time, and there’s no way out except if it all crashes and burns, which it will, one day, and I don’t know if I can wait. And I don’t know if I can work it out, and I don’t think I have a right to have what I want, because it’s immoral and because everyone says it won’t fix me, anyway. Some say it’s downright unhealthy.

And I hate myself for saying all this because it is the kind of thing that only people I despise do. And the only thing that let’s me say it is that I could always commit virtual suicide and find some other place to hang out. Or not.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@daloon We’re here for you. Don’t leave us, please.

mrentropy's avatar

@stemnyjones People need to want to be helped if they’re going to be helped. I congratulate you and I guess that somewhere inside you were tired of being the way you were. Not everyone is like that.

Regardless, the only help I can consider to get her is being blocked by the legal system.

wundayatta's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land No, no, no. That’s not some kind of threat. I’m not fishing for affection. I hate that. I was just saying that if I found myself in that kind of position, that is an option. Believe me, if I wanted to do that, I would just do it. I would not be intending to ever be back. I hate emotional blackmail. That’s why I try to point out that I’m doing it whenever I find myself doing it. I don’t want people to succumb to any manipulation I might be doing. I want people to choose to like me, or not; to praise me, or not; and not feel like I need something from them in order to go on.

I do want things from others, but I will only accept them if I believe they are given truly and freely and sincerely. Since I can rarely judge people’s sincerity very well, or because I doubt that anyone would sincerely love me, I find myself in that trap of my own construction. It sucks, but I don’t know any way out. People have shown me a gazillion ways, but I have been unable or unwilling to use them.

rooeytoo's avatar

I fight for a couple or 8 or 14 years, then I run away!

Of course I must admit, I made bad choices in the first place.

I often wonder if any 2 adult human beings with strong wills (and of any combination of sexes) can actually live together peacefully for a prolonged period of time. I think one always has to acquiesce. You can’t have 2 generals, someone has to be a lieutenant. I don’t like and am not good at that role even though it is the role the woman is generally expected to adopt.

wundayatta's avatar

@rooeytoo I’m jealous, in a way. I want to run so badly, it hurts my head, and makes my vision go blurry. There’s a place I need to and want to go, but I can’t. I have to keep the ship afloat, and I’m not sure I really want to. I just know I have to. People are relying on me.

rooeytoo's avatar

I was always lucky, or unlucky, depending on your point of view. I never had children which to me would have complicated matters immeasurably in so many ways. But I also would have worried that raising them to believe that the way I and my partner behaved in a sick relationship was the “normal” way to do it. Thus condemning them to enter into similar screwed up relationships as adults. So I probably still would have run, hopefully though for the sake of these mythical kids, I would not have made the same mistakes so many times over.

wundayatta's avatar

I always wanted children. I guess I always believed in my parenting skills. Now, I’m not so sure. But then, believing that you don’t really matter or you aren’t really needed is a story you tell yourself when you don’t feel good about yourself.

warribbons's avatar

i’ll fight if it’s worth it

CaptainHarley's avatar

Why in the world would I be afraid in a relationship???

viainfested's avatar

I used to try and run away from problems or fight within a relationship. The person I was seeing at the time didn’t help either since he would never try and stop the argument, always said something to keep it going.

With the person I’m currently seeing there’s small arguments on occasion. We always end up talking afterwards and just forget about the argument as opposed to worrying our heads off over it. :P

Sophief's avatar

@Holden_Caulfield I am being myself, I am just dressing up more than I probably would normally. But I am definately being me.

Finley's avatar

I run away, I once ditched a guy 3 times because I got scared (called in sick, said i forgot i promised my friend to do something, and made a friend literally drag me away so i looked helpless)

liliesndaisies's avatar

I am a coward. I fight for a couple of times but when nothing seems to change i’d run away.

I have been afraid of a relationship. I have been afraid what will it do to me in the future or maybe i was trying to think how important was the relationship to me. The person was not helping. He wanted to get more sleep than talk to me.

So it was the end of the fear. I had run away before he woke up.

bright_eyes00's avatar

I’ve been in an abusive relationship and grew up in an abusive household so whenever I get involved in a negative atmospher or confrontation, I immediately shut down. I get sick to my stomach and lose all ability to communicate effectively. Like when your brain shuts down after hours of studying and how you cant think anymore or form logical/intelligent sentences. Its a rather crippling and unwanted habit.

ruk_d's avatar

I am the type of person to fear the beginning of a relationship so I runaway from the get-go. But when I am finally in a committed relationship I tend to fight. I will argue and say mean things on purpose to hurt the other’s feelings. I have never hit my partner but I have threatened that I would. I also runaway by leaving for a day or two and then come back when I am calm. I see how it damages my partner’s feelings and its something we have talked about and tried workout. It is a hard habit to change especially when it roots from something deeper. I am changing not only for him but for any other future relationships.

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