Scared To Say “I Love You”: 7 Steps To Overcome The Fear16 min read

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Who is your favourite celebrity? What do you love the most about them? Other than your sheer admiration of their looks and talents, have you ever daydreamed of having a romantic relationship with them? 

I have a thing for bodacious, intelligent, and fierce celebrities like Beyonce and Angelina Jolie. But, in real life (IRL), it is such ladies that I find most intimidating and struggle to express my love towards. 

Why is that? More importantly, how can it be overcome? 

In this blog post, we are going to explore some of the reasons and fears behind your hesitance to say “I love you” (not just saying it casually, but on a serious note), and how you may overcome them. 

7 Reasons Why Saying “I Love You” May Be Scary To You

If you are scared to say, “I love you” to someone you’re attracted to, it most likely means you already have some sort of relationship with them, or see them often but you haven’t yet verbalised your feelings. And, this is making you a bit sad, upset, or uneasy because you want more out of the relationship. However, this fear, worry, or concern stemming from both internal and external factors causes you to freeze up, get sweaty, or jittery and eventually back down whenever you’re about to say the words.

The problem is, if you never express your feelings clearly, the relationship may never get to the next level.

You may find it difficult to answer when asked, “Why are you so afraid to say ‘I love you’?”. But, upon deep reflection, you may discover that it is because of one or more of the following reasons;

You’re uncertain about the Relationship: 

Intimate friendships, kisses, sex, care, and attention do not always mean you are on your way to getting married. Sometimes, a relationship can be undefined, and other times it can be temporary. Perhaps it’s just a fling; or a mistake? Whichever the case, saying  “I love you” can be scary when you are not sure about the relationship.

If you feel they are giving you mixed signals, are not really interested, or that you do not know them well enough, it is natural to feel scared of expressing how you feel towards them. Maybe you worry they won’t reciprocate your love.

You may want them to speak first, show some interest, or pass some tests so you know your feelings are mutual. But, there’s a possibility they too are uncertain.

Humans are naturally loss-averse; we feel the pain of loss far more than the joy of gain. So, it makes sense that you fear rejection (more than you desire the relationship) and consider the risk of the relationship ending (due to your advancement) too risky.

You’re unsure of your own feelings: 

Do you truly love this person, are you infatuated, or are you just rolling with them because of the benefits – companionship, sex, status, money, etc.? Being unsure of what you feel towards the other person can make it harder to say “I love you” (especially if you are an honest and empathetic person). 

Maybe, you feel torn: When you are away from them, you feel the urge to call, text, and divulge your feelings to them, but once you are face to face with them, you get cold feet, feel repulsed or embarrassed, or find yourself feeling only lust towards them. Heck! It’s possible to be psyched up about their way of thinking and accomplishments only to be unimpressed by their looks, smell, and so on when you meet them IRL. 

Such feelings can make you afraid of saying the magic phrase as you do not want them to cling to you hoping for a committed, long-term relationship. In some cases, you may even tell them you just want to be friends for now.

You’re still healing from past relationship trauma: 

If you’ve been hurt before, you may find yourself cautious about opening up again. Maybe you were cheated on, lied to, abused, gaslighted, or betrayed by the last person you deeply loved. 

Even a past traumatic experience – like the sudden loss of someone you cared about to a car crash, cancer, or something else – can also leave your alarm bells going off whenever you start feeling strongly towards someone.

It’s also possible that you are a deeply self-aware individual – aware that your trauma is still very fresh – and do not want to trauma-bond, but rather want to give yourself more time to heal. 

If that is you, saying “I love you” can feel incredibly hard as you do not want the same circle to repeat itself, or to start an unhealthy/unsustainable relationship.

You have too many options: 

If you are very good-looking or wealthy, it is natural to have a lot of people approaching you. This abundance of options can cause choice overload – making it harder for you to decide on who you truly like or want to commit to.

On the other hand, social media and dating apps give us access to an unprecedented amount of people who are not just willing to have a relationship but are actively trying to reach out. And, because of how easy it all seems, we can struggle to justify their value and even push back against those that make the most effort to connect (i.e. Effort Justification and Psychological Reactance respectively).

This paradox of choice, where you become confused and worry that any choice you make is potentially not the best choice, makes you fear the idea of saying the words to anyone.

You are being too perfectionistic

Humans have a habit of going for something they think is better, and generally avoid unpleasantries (unless there is a very good, often immediate justification). In simple terms, you may fear that if you commit to one person, then you cut yourself off from a future “better” prospect. Or, you may be afraid of getting attached to someone who you have noticed has some flaws or lacks some things you desire.

For instance, if you daydream of dating Kylie Jenner or Tems, or at least, someone with their looks and vibes, you may find yourself terrified to say the words to someone who doesn’t “reach” those standards; even if they make it clear that they love you and just want you to say a “Yes” or “No”.

This desire to make the best and perfect choice can make it scary to say, “I love you” to someone who is already a “good option”, but not the “perfect one”.

You are concerned about the Cultural Norms: 

In some cultures, expressing love verbally is uncommon. In some cultures, people just go straight to the guardians – usually the parents or religious leader – and start negotiating marriage. And, if everything works out, they simply “take” their bride or groom, no questions asked.

Also, it is usually uncommon in this part of the world for women to make the move on men. So, it is usually the man who expresses his love first.

If you grew up in such a setting, you might feel uncomfortable going against cultural expectations. Your fear may not just stem from being turned down by the person, but prolly getting reported and condemned or even punished by the community.

You have practical concerns: 

Sometimes there are practical considerations, like long distances, different religious backgrounds, huge age gaps, financial instability, past relationships, questionable character, lack of education, and so on.

For instance, if you find yourself having a crush on someone who has dated your sibling and is much older than you, you may reasonably be afraid or concerned about telling them how you feel.

The truth is that these fears are not always bad. Only an idiot has no fears. However, having a deeper understanding of these fears can be the first step in figuring out the right thing to do in such situations.

5 Underlying Fears: Why Confessing Love May Be So Scary To You

Not every fear gets you fidgeting and sweating profusely. Not every fear should stop you from making your advances. That is why it is critical to understand these underlying fears. 

Below, I’m going to attempt to make a list of the most common fears that hold you back from confessing your love to someone;

Fear of Rejection

This is a very common fear and it stems from a lack of confidence. 

If you are afraid that the person you are about to confess your love to may reject the love, you may find yourself struggling to open your mouth about the subject. 

This is often because we often internalise rejection as a rejection of who we are, rather than a rejection of the offer we made.

Fear of Vulnerability: 

Putting your ego on the line and risking rejection is one thing. Opening up, and being in a relationship with someone you do not know if they may hurt (judge, abuse, exploit, betray, etc) you is another. 

No one is perfect, and anyone you’re in a relationship with will eventually know more about your imperfections and weaknesses than anyone else. 

So, if you cannot trust them not to hurt you after you drop your masks and walls, the idea of telling them that you love them may remain scary.

Fear of Missing Out 

If saying “I love you” feels like walking into a cage, that is, if you fear it will cause you to lose your freedom to say and do all the things you want to – like travelling, having sex with different people, and so on – then you may find yourself hesitant to say “I love you”. 

You can also call this, the fear of commitment. The point is, if you feel there is still a lot you haven’t done or experienced, or don’t feel like stopping yet you may see saying the words and getting into a relationship restrictive.

Fear of Loss: 

If you fear saying “I love you” will lead to you losing your independence (i.e. you fear they may now get to tell you what to do or influence your decisions), or facing the potential end of the relationship (i.e. you fear they may decide to distance themselves from you) then you will be terrified as you’re caught between two seemingly undesirable scenarios depending on your point of view (POV).

Fear of Disappointment and Dissatisfaction 

You may worry that the relationship may not live up to your expectations. 

Perhaps, you desire someone a bit taller, bustier, richer, smarter, younger/older, and so on. If the person you are approaching seems to lack in some of these aspects, you may worry that the relationship itself will be underwhelming. 

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7 Steps To Overcome The Fear of Saying “I Love You”!

We were talking and walking down a bush path with trees. I was telling her about my insecurity about money, and how it has held me back from making moves on different girls I admired. 

After listening to my rambling for a while; she interrupted and asked, “Have you also considered how those ladies might have been feeling? Don’t you know many ladies worry about growing old and losing their beauty?…” 

It was the first time I had ever considered that POV.

To overcome the fear of expressing love, you must understand: No one is perfect, and uncertainty is a part of life that must be embraced (because it makes things more interesting). The fear is only an indication that you consider your words, feelings, and actions as well as those of the other person as important. And, if you’re both willing to grow in the relationship things may work out.

Below are some practical things you can do to reduce your fear;

Reflect on the fears

The first, and arguably most important step is to gain clarity on your own feelings; then on the nature of the relationship.

This requires immense self-awareness as well as honesty: You have to be willing to look in the mirror and see all the ways your different ways of thinking are leading to these fears. Some may be realistic, but most will be imagined or unrealistic. 

Perhaps, media, porn, or some other factor has skewed your understanding and expectations of a relationship. Or, maybe past traumas and trust issues overwhelm you. Whatever the case, being clear and aware of what is causing your fear is critical. 

Once you can distinguish this fear from reality, the next step is to…

Address the underlying reasons

As I mentioned earlier, some fear may just be all in your head. In such cases, you have to start working on your mind. Work on managing your perfectionistic tendencies, and fears of missing out. Read books, and also sit down and talk with people IRL.

Face and work through any past relationship trauma or trust issues. You can find resources all over the internet to help once you’re willing to start the work.

And, when it comes to practical concerns, you may need to actually decide what is best for you rather than stand in limbo. Weigh the pros and cons, and make a decision. The process and some decisions may hurt, but that is okay.

Build self-confidence and self-acceptance:

Work on developing a strong sense of self-worth and self-love

Accept that no one is perfect, and it’s okay to have flaws and imperfections.

Make peace with the reality that being accepted or rejected does not define you. You are only an imperfect human trying to do your best. And, in fact, everyone around you is also imperfect and you are also loving and working with them because they too are putting in the effort to be better.

Only those who are not delusional look at themselves and see no flaws (doesn’t matter if they are celebrities or billionaires). Remind yourself that vulnerability and opening up are signs of strength, not weakness.

Once you’ve reached this level of thinking, the next step is to…

Communicate openly and honestly

You don’t have to just blurt out, “I love you”. You can have an open and honest conversation with this person about your feelings and concerns. 

You can tell them that you care for them while highlighting your struggles. Someone who really cares and is worth committing to won’t judge or lash out, especially if you communicate respectfully 

Also, listen to their perspective and try to understand where they are coming from. You may be surprised how much you share in common. They may also have some fears, worries, and concerns and would love to share and work on them.

Open and honest communication will bring reassurance and establish mutual trust and understanding.

Nevertheless, you must learn to…

Manage expectations and embrace uncertainty

Focus on the present moment and enjoy the journey, rather than fixating on an idealised future or relationship. 

There is always a chance of things not working out. They may reject you, or you may both realise that you are not compatible with each other and settle with just being friends.

There is also a possible future where you both get into the relationship but still end up struggling or even dissatisfied. While no one dreams of those, it is a real (and common) reality that most people experience and that you need to consider.

To reduce your chances of making bad decisions, you can…

Seek support and guidance

Sometimes, you may find it impossible to process all these. And, in such cases, it is okay to confide in trusted friends or family members for advice and encouragement.

Educational content, self-help books, or workshops on overcoming these fears and building healthy relationships can also prove to be very helpful.

You can even consider seeking professional help, such as counselling or therapy, if needed.

Practise patience

Understand that developing self-awareness, overcoming trauma or deep-rooted fears, and dealing with insecurities takes time and effort. So be gentle with yourself.

True, this fear and your inexperience may have cost you a couple of relationships, but you don’t have to start regretting it. Rather, be proud of yourself – about how much you’ve grown. Then, go make your next move.

Conclusion: Don’t Stir Up Love Until The Time Is Ripe; And You’re Ready.

She sat by my side. She asked me to sit. I sat. Then, she asked, “Why do you think we can’t have a relationship?”. 

I immediately started putting on a bunch of excuses. 

She remained silent for a while. Then she asked, “Is that all?”. 

I paused. I knew the answer. I wanted someone more bodacious, intelligent, and fierce. But, I could not tell her. So, I apologised for stirring up her love. 

She said it was okay. We stood up. She offered a hug. I hugged her. Then, she left.

“His left hand cradling my head, his right arm around my waist! Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem: Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe – and you’re ready.”

– Song of Songs 8:3-4; The Message (MSG) Bible.

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Dick David is a freelance SEO content writer and editor with over 7 years of experience in content writing, digital marketing, and sales. He is the founder of Pawns Digital Agency. Throughout his career, he has authored over 4 books, published hundreds of SEO articles attracting thousands of monthly visitors, ghostwritten numerous works, and edited hundreds of content pieces across various industries. Currently, he works with Robert Taylor Media and has also worked with Tobi Digitals and Branditechture Design Agency, among others.

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