Barriers to Love: Part 4 Toxicity: Fear, Obligation & Guilt

The third barrier to love is TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS. All relationships are an energy exchange. Each connection can feed us power or drain it away. There are three things that play into most toxic dynamics  - fear, obligation and guilt. What is it that is causing you to lose personal power?


Fear seeps into almost every person’s life at one point or another.  The trick is to acknowledge that it exists but not to let it govern you.  It can be paralyzing and/or make you say and do things that you would not otherwise do.  Are you afraid of being unlovable, controlled, abused, abandoned, humiliated or hurt? Most of us can say yes to at least one of these at some point in our life. When we act out of fear we are operating from a point of weakness not strength.


Obligation is a gerbil wheel of exhaustion.  That frenetic energy of constantly doing for someone else (and not for ourselves) from a place of obligation instead of desire will suck the life out of your relationship in a heartbeat. It is not your job to take responsibility for the feelings and all of the personal needs of your partner. There is a healthy balance of being of service to them in a loving way, and at the same time setting healthy boundaries to ensure you are caring for you as well.


Guilt can sometimes motivate us to do that thing we have been meaning, needing or wanting to do. While that can be a good thing, excessive guilt in relationship will gnaw away at your relationship and quality of life like a moth would your favorite sweater. Guilt breeds shame, which breeds inaction or wrong action, which leads down a dark pathway of unconscious patterns and unhealthy results.

Make no mistake about it; fear, obligation and guilt are not only toxic to your relationships they are also toxic to your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.  They rob us of our personal power!

In doing this work I realized how much I was allowing fear, obligation and guilt to rule my life, and how I had been living this way in various relationships since I was very young. Fear of conflict, fear of being abandoned, fear of being disliked, feeling overly responsible for other people’s feelings and obligated to stay in their lives even when I was not happy. Feeling consumed with guilt at the idea of leaving others alone. I saw clearly how I had held on to so many toxic relationships over the decades because a part of me wasn’t convinced that I deserved real love. And by staying in these relationships I was blocking the possibility of true love coming into my life.

Are you letting the toxicity of fear, obligation and guilt keep you from the love you deserve?  The catch twenty-two here is if your answer is yes, you have to be willing to let the guilt of that go and make compassionate, constructive change.