What To Do If You’re Scared Of Catching Feelings

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As exciting as it is when a new relationship starts to blossom, it can also be pretty scary. You need to let your guard down, let them in, open up, and you can never be 100% sure on the outcome. Will it become everything you want to be? Could it all fall apart leaving you feeling heartbroken and deflated? Regardless of this – you can’t hold back your feelings forever. Otherwise you’ll only end up missing out. But how do you push your fears aside? What do you do if you’re scared of catching feelings? Well, let’s take a look…

Understand Why You’re Scared of Catching Feelings

So before we look at what to do if you’re scared of catching feelings, I want you to first establish why you find it so scary. 

What in particular scares you the most? What makes you feel the most vulnerable and why is that a bad thing?

Have you had bad experiences in the past? Have you been on your own for a long time now? In fact, let’s explore some potential reasons for a moment now…

You Could Be Scared of Catching Feelings Because…

There’s lots of reasons why you may be scared of catching feelings. Perhaps:

  • You’ve been hurt before when really fell for someone and you let them in and you don’t want the same to happen again. 
  • You’re scared that you feel stronger for the other person than they do for you. Unrequited love can be a kicker and you don’t want to stumble into that territory again. Maybe you’re a little unsure about how he feels which is why you’re nervous about your feelings that are progressing pretty fast. At the same time, you don’t want to scare him away
  • On that note – maybe you feel out of control when you catch feelings, vulnerable. To you, it’s like you’re giving someone else the power to control how you feel and that’s a scary prospect – especially if it’s put in the wrong hands. 
  • You know what you want. You’re ready for a relationship. It’s been difficult to find someone you click with and now you have – you don’t want to lose it. You see a lot “riding on this” and you don’t want to have to start over if it doesn’t work out.
  • You’ve been on your own for so long now – you’re scared of it taking away your freedom, your independence. It changes your routine, there’s a “new normal” to adjust to when someone is in your life.
  • You’re worried about losing yourself in the process, or slipping back into bad habits that you had when you were in a past relationship. You’re proud of who you are today, who you’ve become, how strong you are now – and you don’t want to lose that.
  • You know that relationships take time, effort and commitment. They’re also not always easy. You have to put a lot into it if you want it to be everything it can be. And that can be something you need to readjust to.

Ultimately You’re Scared Because Of What It Will Mean…

Whatever specific reason you have for why you’re scared of catching feelings, at the end of it all, it comes down to one thing… you’re scared because of a potential outcome. And that potential outcome you associate PAIN to.

Whatever you’re afraid of happening, you know it will be uncomfortable, difficult, hurtful. Having feelings for someone in itself doesn’t hurt, but whatever you’re worried of happening – that will.

You associate PAIN to catching feelings. And it’s that PAIN that you’re trying to avoid.

Sounds Familiar?

Yup, I get it. Really I do. Everyone has their own reasons, based on their experiences and the kind of person that they are. However, there will always be common similarities, as mentioned.

The good thing is, if you can get clear on what in particular is making you feel scared of catching feelings, you can then better tackle it. You can map out a plan to address each particular fear or issue.

So for example, let’s say you’re scared of catching feelings because you don’t know how the other person feels about you. (Potential pain in this situation: rejection, unrequited love, the relationship breaking down when you’re already heavily invested in it.)

There’s always something you can do however. So with this situation, you should:

  • Ask! Find out. And then based on their answer, look at what actions back up their words.
  • Trust your gut. Look for the signs he likes you vs the signs he’s just messing you around.
  • Take a step back. Remember that this is a two way thing. Don’t be so fast to qualify him. Instead, make sure that he makes you fully happy, that he is the right one for you.
  • Slow it down if you need. There’s ways to take it slow when dating without killing the excitement. If you’re feeling unsure or anxious, slow it down a touch. That’s okay too!

You see? So: find the source, look at the solutions, then map each solution into a plan so that you’re actually taking action to feel better about it.

With this example in particular, when it comes to knowing how a person actually feels about you – it can often be a tricky one. It can stir up a lot of fear, doubt and uncertainty (whether the answer is staring you clearly in the face or not!) The most challenging thing, is that people aren’t always straight up nowadays…

It Can Feel Like “Casual” Is The New Norm

Society can suck. It’s like it’s not “cool” to catch feelings. Like catching feelings is a bad thing. Keeping is “casual” is more of the norm – even if actions feel like relationship-territory, yet still, the commitment isn’t there to match. I mean look at this…

Living together, yet it’s apparently casual. Yes, because that works **eye roll** And “keep her on her toes” – oh please. What’s with all the games?

It reminds me of the phrase, “you can’t have your cake and eat it”… yet that seems to be the attitude. It’s no wonder so many people are scared of catching feelings. Society today can make dating so much harder, complicated and more confusing than it needs to be.

And with so many options when dating, so much game-playing, so many egos on the line (that god-forbid cannot be bruised in any way by putting themselves out there!) – it can be tough. Really tough.

Then there’s the fact that people can hide behind screens, easily access thousands of fellow singles (whether they themselves are single or not!) So it’s not ideal. But it’s not impossible…

What To Do If You’re Scared Of Catching Feelings

So we get it. We completely get why you’re scared of catching feelings. But you can’t let this stop you. Psychologists have shown that we don’t actually want this footloose and fancy-free life. It’s not what we REALLY want, deep down or openly.

See, aside from stability and companionship, a genuine connection with another human being in any relationship, is one of the most valuable parts of our existence. Which is why you have to push through the fear to go after what you really want.

But what do you do? What do you do if you’re scared of catching feelings? How do you remove the fear – or at the very least acknowledge and accept it’s there – and allow things to progress with the people you meet? Well, let’s take a look…

1) Establish Early On What They Want

Let’s start with this one. You’re scared of catching feelings because you’re scared of getting hurt. What gets you hurt the easiest? Falling for the wrong person.

But this is the good part, because although we can’t remove the risk, we can reduce the risk by qualifying the people we meet more effectively.

Here, I want you to try this:

The 10 Key Qualifying Questions To Ask a Guy When Dating

Don’t dive straight in with these. But aim to know the answers to them before fully letting someone in. It’s just going to put your mind at ease and ensure you’re investing your time in the right place (or people!)

But what if they lie?

And I know what you’re thinking – this is all well and good, but what if they’re blagging it? What if they’re just telling me what they know I want to hear?

Well, you’re a smart little cookie. If they are doing this, you’ll start to spot the signs – maybe not straight away, but you will when you’re able to. Your gut will also warn you and you’ll piece it altogether, trust me.

Initially though, it’s best to just give them a clean slate. The fresh start you’d want and deserve. Presume the best of people until they show you why you shouldn’t. Take what they’re saying as the truth until actions misalign.

Because yes you can doubt them – wonder if they’re telling the truth, wonder what you should really believe. But that’s only hurting you and you’re basing this on past experiences – not on them, which is not really fair.

There’s still no guarantees, I know. But you’ll feel a lot more confident if you’ve spoke about the important things and have a better idea of where their head is at.

There’s also signs that someone isn’t ready for something serious, and how you know if someone is being genuine. So you can judge their actions against their words.

Scared Of Catching Feelings

2) Understand What You Want Too

There’s no point knowing what they want, unless you’re clear on what you want too. Only then can you see where things do and don’t align.

I mean, it could be that you’re not ready for something serious – which is why you don’t want to catch feelings.

In which case, it wouldn’t hurt to find someone who was in the same position, who could grow with you as you do, or even just keep it casual. There’s no right or wrong really, providing you’re both on the same page.

The clearer you are, the more you’ll be able to spend your time with the right people. You’ll know those who are and aren’t worth investing your time into, opening up to, allowing feelings to evolve for.

A couple of things that I want to highlight here though…

#1 This needs to be what you want, not what you think you should want.

You have to know what you want, but for you, not for anyone else. Don’t feel the pressure from society, don’t rush when you’re not ready. Know where you’re really at, what you want and why. Then make sure you want it for the right reasons.

#2 Once you know what you want, you can’t compromise on the things that are really important.

When you know what you want, make sure you don’t compromise. This is so easily done, I know.

You meet someone, you click with them and you tolerate things you shouldn’t or ignore the warning signs, brush off the things that do actually matter because you don’t want to see it or believe it.

But THIS is how you get hurt. THIS is why you feel vulnerable right now – because of the times when you did this before and it came back to bite you.

If he doesn’t want the same things as you, if his head isn’t in the same place, if his values don’t match up IT WILL NOT WORK! I know, it sucks, it’s frustrating. But a connection is not enough. So as hard as it is, be strong with it. Don’t keep making the same mistakes.

Clarity is everything, and be confident with your decision.

Yes you still may end up with some bad eggs. It may also feel like this crazy scavenger hunt to even FIND the good eggs. That’s just the way it goes. But you have to know what you’re looking for – otherwise you definitely don’t stand a chance!

3) Take It Slow

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s a good thing to take it slow when dating. Or at the very least, have it moving in a pace that feels comfortable and right to you.

If you’re scared of catching feelings, you can therefore slow the relationship down a touch so that the feelings grow more naturally and gradually – it really helps to ease the nerves.

And this doesn’t mean that you have to hold back, date other people, keep your options open or make the relationship feel less secure. You can still have security and a relative level of commitment with someone, without having to rush things.

You’re essentially saying…

I’m very much interested in you, I’m starting to get real feelings for you, I’m not interested in nor am I getting to know anyone else. My focus is on you, and us, as I’m really liking where things are at right now and I want us to continue moving in the right direction – just without it going at a whirlwind speed!

Because you know, these whirlwind romances, they’re less likely to last anyway and THAT’S when you get those feelings hurt. That’s what leaves you feeling empty, broken and alone.

So when you think of it that way, doesn’t it make you want to slow it down? To protect what you have and give it the best chance of it evolving into more?

By slowing down the relationship, it just makes your feelings a little less intense – a little easier to deal with. You can also make sure that your feelings are genuine and real as opposed to built on a fantasy.

4) Work On Yourself

The better place that you’re in, the stronger and more confident you will feel. So work on those issues that are making it so hard for you to comfortably let people in, deal with those past demons, become the best, happiest version of yourself.

When you do this, you allow yourself to open up, to feel those feelings, to give things a chance – because you know you’re strong enough to deal with whatever happens next.

You also trust that the right person will see your value. You won’t have to convince them. It won’t be a struggle. And with this in mind, you don’t need to be scared of catching feelings because you know if you do, and it still doesn’t work out, these feelings were just misplaced, that’s all.

And that’s okay. It’s good to feel, it’s nice to feel – it’s still been a mini blessing to have those feelings, to have connected with that person in that way. Here, read this:

Recommended Read: Why It’s Okay If You Catch Feelings But It Doesn’t Work Out

This actually leads me onto my next point…

Scared Of Catching Feelings

5) Appreciate What You Have When You Have It

Live with an attitude of gratitude. Enjoy what you have with a person, when it’s there. Live in the moment. Be thankful that you’ve found someone who you’re able to catch feelings with. Feel thankful for the good times that you do share.

Whether they’re in your life temporarily or permanently – learn to appreciate that they were there and feel the joy that you’re getting in that moment.

Don’t ruin it by letting these “what ifs” run free. If you do this every time – if you fear the worst when you’re actually in a good place then, honestly, you will never be happy, because you’ll constantly be living these fears instead of enjoying the moment.

6) Change The Way You See It

With an attitude of gratitude in mind, maybe you can change the way you see it, shift your perspective…

  1. Not only to the fact that catching feelings doesn’t have to be scary.
  2. Not only to the fact that it’s okay if it doesn’t work out once you’ve caught feelings.
  3. But to something like: everyone we meet, every person we connect with, is a blessing. All these little moments, all these special memories, they should still be treasured, no matter how long that person is meant to stay.

Catching feelings makes us feel good when we allow it to. It’s actually the fear that makes us think it doesn’t.

Not everyone needs to stay in your life forever. Not everyone is made to. But the right ones will. And that’s what you’re ultimately looking for, that’s what each connection will make you closer to find.

In the meantime, whether it works out with them or not – you may as well enjoy and appreciate it. Yes it hurts when they leave, yes it’s hard to pick yourself back up from it. We’re not taking that away. Feelings those emotions as well, are all part of it.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be quite so hard. Maybe you can shift your perspective so that it’s not quite as painful if (for any reason) it doesn’t work out – and we’re talking worse case with that one anyway!

Then, when it’s not quite so hard, it’s not quite so soul-destroying – it’s worth it, isn’t it? It’s worth taking the chance, allowing yourself to feel, having those moments of blessing and joy. Because that’s what life is made of – all these little moments. And the good more than outweighs the bad.

7) Give It Your Best Shot Regardless

If you find yourself catching feelings, push your fear aside and give this new relationship everything that you’ve got. This gives it the best chance of blossoming into everything that it can be.

When you do this, only then can you look back with no regrets or what if’s. You did your best, you opened your heart, you gave it chance. Life is about taking chances. Love in itself is a risk. And it’s okay if it doesn’t work out, especially if you stayed true to you.

If you followed your heart, how can you have any regrets? If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. There’s no loss, not really. But at least you know, from your side, you did everything you could. 

Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be and you can’t always see that straight away. But you can always be thankful. And trust that in time, it will become clear.

Don’t Be Scared Of Catching Feelings

You don’t need to be scared of catching feelings, really you don’t. It’s perfectly understandable why you are. Your mind and body is also just trying to protect you.

But you’re strong enough, smart enough, more than enough, in so many ways.

You’re going to find the right person and look back at all this stage in your life when so much was uncertain and so much was new… and you’re going to smile.

You’re going to smile because you now have what you’ve always wanted and you appreciate it even more. But to get to that point – you have to allow yourself to feel your feelings, to open your heart and mind.

It will all be worth it in the end, trust me.

Sending all my love, encouragement and best wishes.

What To Do If You’re Scared Of Catching Feelings
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Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

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