Fear is one of the most prominent red flags in a relationship. It is often ignored as a normal emotion that exists because of a difference in opinion, emotional instability and as a coping mechanism. Fear in relationships may indeed be an outcome of miscommunication and misjudgment, but it cannot be ignored. This is because, no matter what the reason, the feeling of fear speaks about an underlying powerplay which is impacting a relationship negatively. Just answer me one question- whom are you afraid of? A person who can harm you right? If the said person is your partner, then there are chances that you might be in an abusive relationship.
In our society, fear is normalised in relationships. A woman fearing a man in a relationship is seen as the natural way in which the dynamics work. No one tries to find reasons or causes for such an equation between a couple. Neither does anyone understand how the presence of fear can affect a relationship.
The presence of fear in relationships is a sign of skewered gender dynamics. Here I am specifically referring to heterosexual relationships which are marred by gender inequality. Society hails men as the dominant gender and thus bestows on them the privilege of getting whatever they want. Some men use the power invested in them to oppress women. They create an environment of fear which forces women to comply with everything that men say. Especially in marriages, this fear is used to dominate women and make them submissive.
Since childhood girls are conditioned to be afraid of men in their house and outside too. They are told that men can cause harm to them because of which women need to be careful. They are also told that men have the right to punish them and thus they should behave and live as per their wishes. Women are told never to challenge a man’s authority- be it in the house or outside. A woman is safe if she is liked by men around her. But she is in danger if she offends or displeases men around her in any way.
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But, a woman’s life is not indigent of male attention. Why should a woman fulfill a man’s demand to have emotional stability in a relationship? Why should she bear a man’s stubbornness and endure his temper tantrums? Why should she live in the fear that someday or the other the man might hit her or harm her if she doesn’t conform to his demands? Should any human live under the fear of being attacked? No. Then why should a wife or a girlfriend have to do so?
Some of you might say that at times women are the ones who might terrorise people around them. And I won’t deny that because it does happen and it is equally wrong. But studies have proved that women fear everyday life scenarios more than men. According to a survey, 53 percent women fear sexual assault and nearly half of the women fear physical attack. And among the men surveyed, only 34 percent agreed to have such fears.
To remove fear from relationships, the very first step is to understand that any kind of harm is unjust. It is not justifiable for any man to harm a woman in any way. Harming someone, be it a man or a woman, is a crime. Secondly, a man should be mature enough to understand which of his demands are reasonable and which are not. Rather than using male privilege, men must cultivate empathy and tenderness in relationships. And thirdly, men need to deal with their anger issues. It is not a sign of a good and composed person if they cannot control their anger. If a person is likely to resort to fights verbal or physical, they become a danger for not only their loved ones but people in general too.
So stop letting fear rule your relationships. We feat those who can harm us. And if anyone in relationship or outside of it assumes the power to harm us, we need to think twice before ignoring them and letting the right to harm us reside with them.
Views expressed are the author’s own.