7 Signs Your Relationship Is Driven By Fear Instead Of Love

by Kristine Fellizar
Ashley Batz/Bustle

What is the driving force behind your relationship? Is it love or is it actually fear? On the surface, the two may seem like completely different things. But according to experts, it's actually pretty easy to confuse them.

"When fear is your primary driver, you tend to create what you fear," Kimberly Friedmutter, life management expert and author of Subconscious Power: Use Your Inner Mind to Create the Life You've Always Wanted, tells Bustle. Basically, when you focus on something, especially something negative, you attract it. When this happens, the decisions you make in your relationship tend to support things that aren't necessarily true (i.e. the thing you fear), instead of things that are already in front of you (i.e. your relationship).

It's so easy to make choices out of fear. In fact, Laura Federico MS, LCSW, licensed clinical psychotherapist, tells Bustle, it's something that she sees in a lot of the clients she works with. "We are bombarded daily with messaging telling us that we need a partner, that we don't measure up, and that we aren't enough," she says. All of this outside and internal pressure, can make it pretty difficult for you to make healthier decisions from a more level-headed place. In doing so, you're less likely to be in a relationship that actually makes you happy.

Because it's easy to confuse the two, here are some things that can happen when your relationship is driven by fear and not love, according to experts.


You Need To Spend A Ton Of Time With Your Partner To Be Happy

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Wanting to spend some quality time with your partner isn't a bad thing. But it can be if you want to take up all of their free time. When your relationship is driven by fear, you're likely to get possessive of the time you spend with your partner. "One or both partners may want to spend as much time together in an effort to minimize the chances that their partner will find someone else," Dr. Helen Odessky, licensed clinical psychologist and author, tells Bustle. And if this is the case, it may be something to think about.


You Get Jealous Easily

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Fear can lead to both insecurity and jealousy. When you're jealous, as Dr. Odessky says, you're likely to make accusations, cause arguments or participate in "stealth behaviors like checking text or email messages and trolling social media accounts." All of which are obviously unhealthy.


You Argue Over Small Things

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You may notice a lot of bickering or constant arguing over seemingly small issues. As Chelsea Connors, Therapist and Certified Life Coach, tells Bustle, insignificant disagreements can then become catastrophic fights. "When your relationship is derived from a place of fear, you can’t approach problems with a level-head," she says. "The fear of losing the other partner will become the guiding force in your relationship."


You'll Feel Like You Need To Act A Certain Way

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When you're in a relationship that's full of love, you should be able to be yourself without fear of judgement or criticism. But when it's not, licensed professional counselor, Julie Williamson, tells Bustle, "You may change aspects of your own personality or appearance in order to avoid retribution or judgement from your partner." You may not feel comfortable being yourself out of fear of rejection.


You Feel Like Your Relationship Is As Good As It Gets

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Maybe you really are with someone who is just as good as you think they are. If so, that's great. But if you feel like you settled in any way, your relationship may be driven by fear. “So many individuals have bought into the idea that surviving in a long-term partnership is as good as it gets, defaulting to safe, familiar and comfortable because they are scared of change," Christina Vazquez, psychotherapist and author of The Uncherished Wife: Recover from the Emotionally Absent Man, tells Bustle. When this happens, you tend to lower your standards for what a relationship can be instead of having something that's really fulfilling.


You Overthink A Lot

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When you're overthinking, your insecurities may be at the forefront of your mind. According to Connors, "You may notice you’ll do everything in your power to find certainty and reassurance from your partner, no matter the cost." When that happens, you can't truly enjoy being in your relationship because you're too scared of losing them.


Your Partner Will Sense It And React In The Same Way

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Just so you know, others can sense your fear and insecurities, Friedmutter says. You may think you're being low-key with your feelings, but you can't really hide it. The danger in this is, "Your partner might just believe you one day," she says. When this happens, the thing you fear (i.e. your partner leaving) might actually happen. This applies to people both in relationships and those looking for one. When you think negative things are going to happen to you, how can you expect to attract a positive outcome?

"A relationship driven by love allows you the room to shine, forgive and engage in positive mindset," Friedmutter says. The good news is, a relationship that's driven by fear isn't automatically doomed. You can get out of this fear-based mindset. "The best way to pivot into that mindset is to 'fake it 'til you make it,'" Friedmutter says. "Pretending you are confident, loving and fearless is a great start because the best positive reaction is that both you and your mate can see how fabulous you really are."

It won't be easy. It will take some work on your part. But if you can learn to see your relationships from a different perspective, you may find yourself in a much more positive situation.