Beginning a new relationship is one of the most beautiful experiences. There’s the excitement of meeting someone new, the “butterflies in the stomach,” the flirting, the getting to know them—and the oh-so-mysterious nature of the yet-to-be-discovered relationship.
The thing is, unless you’re living in a romance novel, there is such a thing as too much mystery, and it can actually kill a budding relationship.
We’re talking about repressed desires that can get in the way of creating a deep and enduring bond with someone.
The truth is that most—if not all of us—have at least some repressed desires that we keep buried and are afraid of allowing to come to the surface because they bring up feelings of anxiety, guilt or shame.
On some level, something inside of us made a decision that these desires were “bad” or “not normal.”
Here are a number of ways that repressed desires can create obstacles in a new relationship before it has a chance to blossom.
1) Repressing your need for intimacy can prevent you from getting close
When we repress our need for intimacy, not only are we cutting off a part of who we are, but we’re also preventing ourselves from experiencing a truly authentic and physically-fulfilling relationship with another person.
We might clam up as soon as they get “too close”—sexually speaking.
Psychotherapist, neuropsychologist and counselor Veena Chakravarthy says that sexual repression can occur due to moral and social standards. “Moral systems, parental guidance, and education and family structure can play a role in this.”
Chakravarthy says that sexual repression can affect relationships because the repressed feelings refrain a person from being able to express themselves—and their desires—freely. “The fear associated with the repression inhibits communication. Therefore, individuals shy away from it and make it difficult for their partners as well.”
2) You might stifle your need to be adventurous
It can also work the other way.
The idea of exploring your sexual nature and being more adventurous in bed might appeal to you.
But your new partner is having none of it or you get the sense that it’s not something they would even want to talk about.
So you decide to stifle your own desires so as not make them uncomfortable or upset the delicate new relationship. You may even feel shame and stress associated with any sexual fantasies that you have.
It could just be the fact that your own sex drive is a lot stronger than theirs. They turn you down so often that you have stopped asking for the most part.
Relationship experts advise that it’s important to understand that no two people have the same level of desire.
Talking to them about your desire patterns and seeing if you can meet somewhere in the middle when it comes to sexual intimacy is key. It’s only with communication and understanding that partners—particularly new partners—can learn what sexual intimacy means for each person.
3) Repressing your independence and losing yourself will hurt the relationship long-term
It’s wonderful to be part of a new couple. The more you get to know them, the more you feel like they are an extension of you. It’s like you’re one person: they feel part of you and you feel like a part of them. You’ve never felt like this before.
This is a good thing, right?
Not if the merging of mind, body, and soul is repressing your need for independence. Because even if it isn’t at this point in the relationship, it will eventually.
Losing yourself in the relationship will only lead to feelings of resentment.
You might become so absorbed with the relationship that you start to shrug off friendships so that you can spend time with your significant other. You might even become clingy any time they go on a business trip or hang out with their own friends.
It could be them who is the clingy one and gets jealous any time you have something of your own to do that doesn’t involve them being the center of your world.
This can lead to the feeling of being stifled, and again, you’ll feel more and more like you’re losing yourself in the relationship. It can even eventually get to the point of controlling finances and spending time with your own family. These might sound like extreme cases but the gap between being clingy and being controlling is not necessarily a big one.
A sense of self-autonomy and independence is essential to a healthy relationship and a healthy sense of self esteem!
Bottom line: you shouldn’t be repressing your sense of independence and self-worth to be considered “worthy” of them.
4) Pushing them away emotionally will also have a negative effect
By contrast, we could be so used to being independent that we don’t let the other person in.
You’re so used to counting on only yourself and pushing through any uncomfortable emotions on your own that it can be very difficult to allow yourself to be vulnerable to someone you’ve been seeing.
You might push them away when they get “too close,” for example. You might not open up to them and they may get frustrated at how little of yourself you share with them.
Vulnerability can also be the emotional avoidance of negative feelings so that you don’t upset the “balance” of the new relationship.
Experts say that we tend to repress those emotions that we fear our partner may perceive as negative. These could be feelings of frustration, fear, sadness, disappointment—and of course, anger.
“We consider [negative emotions] uncomfortable and problematic,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Angelica Attard. “As a species, we are primed to avoid pain and suffering to ensure our survival.”
Dr. Attard says that asking emotional regulation questions can help you pause and understand what your mind and body are trying to tell you.
She stresses that it’s wise—even vital—to interpret these messages with caution. “We instinctively survive and avoid hardship, so our negative emotions are hard wired to point out danger.”
Emotions can become triggered even when there is no actual problem, she adds. “[It’s] like a smoke alarm that goes off when we are cooking a meal and not because there is a fire. Being aware of this can stop you from impulsively reacting and instead help you choose what action will be most helpful in the moment.”
5) Repressing fears of commitment
It might seem like it’s way too early to even think about this one, but repressing your fear of commitment may hurt a promising relationship.
It’s not that you don’t want a long term commitment one day with the right person.
Maybe you’ve been hurt by betrayal in the past. Or perhaps you saw your parents go through a horrible divorce.
Even though you deeply want to be in a healthy, long-term relationship—and think you may have found the one despite it being early days—those repressed fears of commitment are already cropping up.
If you don’t deal with your fear of repressed commitment now, it will manifest as something a lot more painful (and messier) down the road.
You might get engaged for example, but then not be able to go through with the wedding.
Psychologists stress that if your fear of commitment causes anxiety or other emotional distress, then therapy can really help.
Remember the beginning of a relationship that holds promise is to build trust. This is why it’s important to take it slow.
Talking about this repressed fear with your partner can also be a way to develop a sense of trust.
Sex therapist Crystal Raypole recommends saying something like:
“I went through a bad breakup a few years ago, and it took me a long time to recover. I’m afraid of going through that again. I care about you, and I like where this is going, but I need more time to get used to the idea of being in a relationship.”
She goes on to say that while commitment issues might make dating seem like it’s more difficult. They don’t make intimate, long-term relationships impossible, either. “Things just might take a bit of extra work and honest communication.”
Raypole advises taking baby steps towards challenging this repressed desire head on.
This could mean spending a weekend together a few miles out of town, or holding hands in public around people you know.
Talk about things you would like to do together in the future. Keep the conversation light and make it a habit to do this. This could be planning a vacation next summer, without booking anything until closer to the time but still challenging yourself to keep those plans.
Raypole also suggests looking at apartments or houses together if that’s where the relationship is going.
“This can be as simple as taking a walk in a neighborhood you like and thinking about what it would be like to share that space with your partner,” she says. “If feelings of fear or anxiety come up for you as you do these, talk about them with your partner.”
Don’t give any repressed desires the power to determine the course of the relationship
Repressed desires do not have to get in the way of a promising relationship.
Many of us are on a quest to self-discovery. We’re all about attempting to live a conscious life that will help us grow and evolve.
We all have issues, and rather than keep them swept under the rug, more of us are ready to unpack them so that we can break old patterns that aren’t serving us any longer.
Take repressed desires, for example. If we keep certain emotional or sexual desires buried deep beneath the surface of our psyche, these can subconsciously strike out and get in the way of a priming relationship.
How do we know what repressed desires we have? And even when we’re able to identify them, what do we do about them?
Bringing our desires out of the dark and dealing with them can help us get on the path to an authentic, satisfying, and enduring bond.
I learned this from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, in his incredible free video on Love and Intimacy.
You’ll find practical solutions and much more in Rudá’s powerful video, solutions that’ll stay with you for life.
The first step is to bring these desires out of the dark and to communicate them to your partner.
Talking to a therapist can also help in huge ways. Then, baby steps can help you overcome—and even embrace—them little by little.