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She loves me? He loves me not?

Being that it is Valentine’s week, I decided to go with a love-based theme. But, before you click away in disgust I encourage you to continue reading. For you see, this is not going to be a mushy, gushy ‘I love you to the moon and back’ prose. No. This post will focus on a couple of issues that may pop-up during the course or pursuit of a romantic relationship.

And before those of you who consider yourselves to be in that perfect relationship, don’t pat yourselves on the back just yet. These issues can come up randomly- BAM- out of nowhere and slap you back to the reality that a perfect relationship does not exist. It just does not. Geez Nellie, you must be miserable and lonely. Nope. I am not. But I am a realist and I see things for what they are, perfectly imperfect.

I want to introduce you to a couple of terms (big fancy words used to describe relatively simple concepts): pistanthrophobia, athazagoraphobia, and philophobia.

· pistanthrophobia: the fear of trusting people due to negative past experiences and relationships.

· athazagoraphobia: the fear of being forgotten or ignored

· philophobia: the fear of falling in love

So what of these big fancy words? What do they have to do with you? Most of you? I would be willing to bet most people have experienced one of these fears at some point during or in the pursuit of a romantic relationship. I know some of you are thinking this is a pretty bum post for Valentine’s week. I promise that is not my intent. My intent, instead, is to awaken your awareness in your current or potential relationships; to make you more mindful of your interactions with others. While very few people will develop one of these full-blown phobias, we all have the potential to slip into thought and behavior patterns associated with these particular phobias. This can cause turbulence in an otherwise peaceful and enjoyable courtship.

Starting with pistanthrophobia (or the fear of trust due to past negative experiences), how often have you caught yourself saying, “Well that’s exactly what my ex did,” or “All guys/girls are the same…” These are thoughts associated with a lack of trust for the person you are currently with or interested in. While history can repeat itself, it does not always. And to throw a potentially good partner away based on past experiences is something a lot of us do. Think about your current or past partner’s most annoying trait. Let us say that he/she always squeezes the toothpaste from the middle and not bottom up. What tends to happen is this fear will begin with small things- like toothpaste not being squeezed properly- and eventually snowball into much larger issues. (Yes, even larger than not replacing the toilet paper roll!) We distrust one behavior and all of a sudden we have overgeneralized this distrust in many things such as their close relationships with co-workers or a friend on social media who messages at 9pm on a Sunday. (Not gonna lie though…you probably should not be messaging casual friends late at night- it is disrespectful to that person’s partner, quiet time, space…learn some boundaries people!)

Athazagoraphobia. Another common mistake people make is assuming. Just because a current love interest does not message you attesting their undying love at 9pm on a Sunday (…boundaries, people, boundaries!), or your partner does not tell you they love you every 5 seconds does not mean they have forgotten you or are ignoring you. We all know that person who is pursuing a love interest and cannot focus on a single thing due to checking their phone a bazillion times a day waiting for ‘The Text’. Or what about the partner who continuously asks, “Do you love me? Are you sure? Why do you love me?” Maybe the other person is busy, sick, stressed, anxious, binge-watching *insert your favorite streaming series*. Maybe they are waiting for YOUR text, or for YOU to tell them you love them? In either case, assuming someone is not interested or has forgotten about you (while you sit no more than 6 inches apart on the couch) on the regular is quite irrational. WHY HASN’T ANYONE LIKED MY POST YET????! THEY HATE MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! See. Told you.

Last, but certainly not least, is philophobia. This is, in my opinion, the saddest condition of them all. For anyone who has been in love, you know it can be the most amazing feeling in the world. You practically float through your day because you are filled with the warm, fuzzy feeling of infatuation. Your face begins to hurt from smiling too much and those around you begin to get annoyed at your constant babble of ‘whatsherface’ or ‘hestheone’. But in all seriousness, to deny yourself that experience, those warm fuzzies, that perma-smile…it is sad to me. I’m not going to lie to all of you and say this feeling lasts forever- love is dynamic and goes through many rewarding phases. The first phase of love, however, typically being the aim of any romantic comedy, is said by many to be the most fun and exciting.

It is believed to be said by Lewis Carroll (but certainly don’t quote me on it), “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take, relationships we were afraid to have and the decisions we waited too long to make.”

Regardless of who actually said it, it is pure genius. Do yourself a favor this Valentine’s Day: think about whether you hold any of these fears. What/where is the origin? What stops you from letting go of irrational/old beliefs? Why can’t you text that guy/girl you’ve had your mind on for days? Is your partner ignoring you, or is he/she going through something? Instead of asking for the hundredth time this hour if your partner loves you, why not ask how they are doing? You may learn something in the process, actually strengthening your relationship.

All that being said you are now free to resume your normal Valentine festivities- whether it be indulging in self-care, pondering Nellie’s thoughtful post, or making cupid vomit. Whatever you do, be sure to love yourself enough to love others. <3

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