GIRL TALK + DEAR TKB | How Fear Keeps You From Having the Relationship You Deserve. (We Explore, How the Fantasy of ‘Real Love’ is Hurting Modern Relationships)

Sometimes, we can start to feel a little lost.

It can happen to anyone, at any time in one’s life.  During the happiest times, even, and in the happiest relationships.

Because “perfection” does not exist in this realm.  It doesn’t apply to relationships.  We live in a real world, and shack up with real people who have real emotions.  Emotional baggage is something everyone has.  It’s not this “bad thing” that we should feel shame talking about openly.  And there are types of baggage; some of it requires substantial effort to get through/cope with, and some of it requires only venting to understanding friends.  All I know is that I feel it’s time for us to talk about all of it honestly.  I feel like I’ve been ready for this for a while, aching for it.  This is my dream for all of us, to be able to get super raw despite the pride and potential for embarrassment that so often blocks that kind of discussion.  We have to talk openly as human beings, otherwise how will the generations after us ever learn how to become whole.  And I’d love for you to come along for the ride.  Or just sit back and listen as the rest of us do.

Love songs have always disappointed me, for their tendency to keep it light.  Even songs that try to tackle the most difficult parts of relationships – they still seem hollow to me.  Until this one.

British singer Rebecca Ferguson’s songs are among the first I’ve heard in a while that go to the core of life, and relationships, and the insecurities we have, both substantiated and unfounded.  Relationships aren’t cut and dry, and the problems we encounter in them are often difficult to tackle properly.  But the good thing is that whatever you’re going through, 1.3 million other people have been through as well, in almost identical fashion.  We just *think* we’re more alone than we actually are.  And even if you know that already, it doesn’t make it any easier to reveal to loved ones.  Embarrassment is the typical reason for us keeping things to ourselves.  We don’t want people to have reason to doubt the quality of our relationships.

Especially when we’re planning our weddings.  

I try to fight against the tendency we have, as humans (and, admittedly, as a blogger) to focus on the positive side of relationships, while mostly ignoring all the other stuff.  The embarrassing stuff.  The stuff we didn’t anticipate at the outset, and the stuff that we’re too proud to share with others, even when we’re completely at a loss for how to get things back on track.

This reader question stopped me dead in my tracks.  I tried to answer it as honestly as I can.  Because this reader’s question is the essence of what most reader questions I see are about.  I want her to know she’s not alone.

Dear TKB/Alison,

Our wedding is less than two months away and I feel completely alone.  Even when he’s in the room, I feel alone, and he looks like he feels alone, too.  It’s terrifying and painful and makes me angry.  But mostly sad.  And defeated.  And I feel weaker than I ever thought I could, now that we’re at a point where I’m afraid to say what’s really on my mind.  I think my biggest fear is that something I might say might make him realize this isn’t the relationship for him, and he’ll walk.   And I’ll have said something that was the catalyst for our going separate ways.  As I write this I’m crying my eyes out.  I have nothing left in me.  I walk around like a zombie, I feel so empty.  We hardly talk about anything real.  Not that we used to have deep, philosophical conversations but there was moooorrre to us.  Something, I can’t put my finger on it.  I felt like we used to be so much more in tune with one another.  We’re drifting more and more apart with every  conversation we have about the wedding.  At this point I have had to ignore the fact that the wedding’s fast approaching just because I’m too afraid to push him farther away by nagging him about details which now seem so unimportant, in the scheme of things.

I’m really scared and have no one to talk to who I feel could understand or help me in my life.  I’m scared I’m losing the man who used to send me text messages with potential baby names he thought up.  I’m scared I’m losing myself.  I’m scared of what it means for my relationship that I’m writing to (no offense) a blogger who I don’t even know in real life, instead of feeling comfortable enough to speak openly to the person I love and have chosen as my life partner.

Wedding planning seems to have been a conduit for bringing out all of our bad stuff.  I wasn’t worried about it at first because I had heard it can get really tough, and it can sometimes test your relationship but I never thought it could get THIS tough.  I’m finding out that we weren’t as connected as I thought we were over the last three years we’ve been together.  (Or we were, but things have regressed?)  I feel almost at a point where it feels like it’s never going to get better.  It just seems he’s on autopilot and letting me guide things, and I feel like he is open to talking but only if he doesn’t have to do anything too introspective or hear me feel sad.  

I’m not even trying to act like an innocent; I JUST DON’T KNOW WHERE WE WENT WRONG AND I’M TRYING.  I’M WILLING TO DO ANYTHING.  I love him so much, and I feel absolutely certain he authentically wanted to marry me before we set out to plan a wedding.  We just stopped being *us* at some point, I don’t know when, but communication changed fundamentally between us and ever since then we’ve been drifting apart.  I’m trying to be strong, and I think we were both trying really hard, we cried during some arguments months ago.  Now it’s cold here.  I feel almost at a point where I’m unsure if the love I thought I had even ever existed as something real in the first place.  I don’t really know what it is I’m asking you, but I feel like my world is so small right now.  Please help.  I need to hear this could be normal between two people.  But if it’s not, please just tell me.  I’m done falling to pieces, I just want to know if I should keep trying or be strong and move on with my life.

Thank you for listening.

Dear Reader,

Weddings are wonderful.  Except when a certain thing happens.

The thing = when your focus becomes your wedding almost exclusively, and your relationship – the very thing that got you to this point together – is almost wholly ignored due to the false belief that a relationship is a self-sustaining entity requiring little food or water to survive.  Natural human tendency is to want [the moment someone proposes] + [the moment someone says yes to that proposal] to = [the relationship is on lockdown.]  That you’re officially committed forever and ever, and so now you can just focus on things like birch place cards and first dance songs without that nagging concern that one of you is ever going to change his or her mind.  Because the truth of the human condition is that, at our core, we want to be loved for the truth of who we are.  We seek acceptance from a lover, wholly and without hesitation.

But every human being is different.  And every human being has his/her own insecurities, and unique needs, that they bring to a relationship.  And it’s up to us as members of relationships to voice those needs, and to be true to ourselves about what we desire from our partners.  And to want our partners to tell us what they want and what they need, and to be willing and to want to answer those wants and needs, so that they feel loved wholly and without hesitation.  Some people are naturally able to achieve that balance.  Others work through major issues finally to get to that serene point of mutual exchange and understanding.  But that’s not real life for a lot of people.  For most people, a relationship needs to go through a lot of growing pains, before they can ever really feel open and connected in the truest most satisfying sense.  This includes growing together, as a union of two, it’s hardly ever a negative thing.  That’s why they call it growing pains.  They just need to be open to it, not to fear it, and to understand the importance and rewards involved.

The thing is, people often get caught up thinking that ‘real love’ is effortless.  And they’re right.

But this is not about ‘real love.’  Real Love and a Successful Relationship are not synonymous.

This lies at the source of most unexpected problems that come up in relationships, and is usually a major player along the road to divorce.  Not wedding planning; *trusting* that a relationship will just sustain itself on the love you have.  Even without significant effort put into it for long periods of time.  Like, for example, while planning a wedding.

You have to talk to him.  You have to share with him that you’ve been scared to say the things on your mind.  Tell him the things you told me.  If you don’t say exactly what’s on your mind, you will eternally regret it, regardless of whether you’re together or not 5, 10, 50 years from now.

What you have is extreme fear, and it’s controlling your entire body.  So what I want you to do is decide to accept that being honest, right now, is the only option.  EVEN IF IT MEANS BAD TIMES ARE AHEAD OF YOU, either with him, or without him.  Even if it means you have to postpone the wedding.  I need you to allow yourself NOT TO LET THE MONEY YOU’VE INVESTED, or your crippling fear of loss, to dictate your behavior within this relationship.

Above everything, we have to be true to ourselves, and to determine what we are looking for within our relationship with our partner.  True openness is the path to personal truth, and the deepest kind of connection and understanding between human beings.  For some it comes easy.  For others it’s a battle, and this all depends on the baggage we bring to relationships.  And the honesty we are capable of having within ourselves.

Good luck.  I think that, no matter how he responds, you are an incredibly self-aware, intelligent woman who I feel knows exactly what she wants and deserves out of her relationship.  And I like your understanding that it takes two to bring things back on track.  I just hope he’s both capable and willing to bear his soul to you.  Because sometimes we’re afraid to be brutally honest with the people we love.  But only then, can we ever hope to lead lives of honesty and real fulfillment.

Sorry that was so intense, but this is some fucking intense shit we’re dealing with here.  That’s why I didn’t asterisk it by writing f**king or s**t.  This is the real deal.  Life.  And I’m not interested in asterisking the truth.  I hope I’ve helped.  Though honestly all I really want to do right now is go hold you as a friend, and tell you that no matter how this all plays out, you’re going to be ok.  Be strong, and know that honesty with oneself and honesty with loved ones is the single righteous path.

I’m sure the readers will have more to say, and I look forward to their advice, too.  We want to help you.  But especially we just want you to know that you’re not alone in this.  You are just one more person dealing with the same life shit that we all are susceptible to.  And if it helps to know this, Honey and I have had our rocky times, too.  And I’m certain we’ll have more.  Because really good things don’t come easy.  Otherwise everybody’d have no trouble finding the perfect relationship.



Friends: If you’re in the mood to add in your voice to this discussion, I hope you will.  Whether you’ve experienced anything similar yourself, or a friend has encountered a similar situation, or you just want to contribute some encouraging words, or personal advice.

My hope is to make this an ongoing discussion.   I just feel like there are a l0t of people who need to be able to see this talked out somewhere.

On an additional, final note: the images I decided to include in this post are from a submission by Anna Pociask Photography.  They’re magnificent, and I’m looking forward to unveiling the full shoot very soon.  

Photography: Anna Pociask Photography, LLC / Submitted via Two Bright Lights

Label(s): "DEAR TKB..." Advice Column

Love all of this...


  1. Lexy Ashley on August 7, 2012

    What do you think of the song “Poison and Wine” by the Civil Wars?

    • talkaboutprom on November 22, 2012

      I feel so sorry for the reader. It sounds as if both of them have become involved and surrounded by their own little worlds and lost the “they”.

  2. Alison on August 7, 2012

    Lexy – I actually haven’t heard that song, but I’m immediately going to check it out now… thanks for the tip, I’ll let you know! xx

  3. Alison, you are spot on when you told the reader that the most important thing is to talk it out. From many years and a few relationships I second that suggestion.

    I feel so sorry for the reader. It sounds as if both of them have become involved and surrounded by their own little worlds and lost the “they”.

    This can so easily happen in a relationship and will happen again and again unless the two people do not allow it to happen. When things get busy, confusing, hurtful or any other situation you can think off, the worst thing for a relationship is to pull into your own little world and worry only about how it is affecting you.

    I have done it! Not over a wedding but later in a marriage over other outside problems. It is our tendency as humans to think about only how the situation is affecting us and not how it is affecting the other person. Then it becomes so easy to start blaming the other person because you are not happy.

    The reader’s future husband is probably feeling just as alone and lost as she is. She has to think about what he is feeling. He probably is feeling that he has lost her in all the details of the wedding and he isn’t really needed.

    They have to talk about how each one feels and how everything is affecting them as individuals. Alison, when you said, “all I really want to do right now is go hold you as a friend, and tell you that no matter how this all plays out, you’re going to be ok”, I was thinking that is probably exactly what he needs from her right now.

    How they work through this situation is how you have to work through many situations in a relationship. In spite of the fear of what might happen, both have to be honest about their feelings and fears.

    The most important thing is to not draw into your own little world, but to see his problems too and TALK ABOUT IT. I know talking about feelings is difficult, especially for men, but the way they learn to handle this situation will make or break the future marriage.

    Good Luck,

    • Alison on August 8, 2012

      Funny how all we ever really need is a reminder from the ones we love, that we’re loved by them. So simple, YET SO HARD.

  4. Jennifer on August 8, 2012

    Great advice Alison. As far as the letter-writer, just know you’re not alone. And yes, you need to talk to him. If you can’t have the difficult conversations now, the marriage will be so much tougher. Relationships take work, and they are made of happy moments, awkward moments, moments where you are both on the edge of walking out and moments where you need eachother intensely. But mostly, they are work. You need to do your part and talk to him. Because if you are worried about postponing the wedding or losing money, just think how awful it will feel to have a wedding and not enjoy it. It’s one day, you need to focus on every day that will come after and having this conversation is the best start. Good luck!!

  5. Amy on August 8, 2012

    I am 10 days out from our wedding and I feel a tiny bit of your pain. The last two weeks I’ve felt so disconnected from my honey (due to traveling, moving into a new house, busy, busy wedding planning) until I realized my expectations were getting in the way of real life. Weddings have so many expectations around them and it’s often hard to move those aside and see clearly. Get your phone out and call him – set up a little date somewhere private and talk, talk, talk. Silly suggestion but it works for a few of my girlfriends is to write down your deepest fears, concerns on notecards so you don’t get sidetracked by emotion and you can discuss the things that are hurting you. Don’t be afraid to push the wedding back, scale it down or go to counseling (many churches offer premarital counseling). This is the rest of your life sister. Your marriage determines everything else in your life so you want to start out strong and learn the best ways to communicate. It will save you later. Love wins… it always does.

    • Alison on August 8, 2012

      “write down your deepest fears, concerns on notecards so you don’t get sidetracked by emotion and you can discuss the things that are hurting you” = some great advice, love it. :) It’s so true; planning out beforehand the things you need to express doesn’t guarantee you won’t get completely off track due to emotion.

  6. Amy on August 8, 2012

    This is long but it’s a talk on vulnerabilty that will knock your socks off. Perfect for getting through a wedding and a marriage.


  7. Tina on August 8, 2012

    This is really a nice concept. :)

  8. Lacie on August 8, 2012

    Alison, first I want to tell you that I am obsessed with you and your hilarious take on everything! I feel like you could literally be one of my best friends! I’m very new to your blog and hooked. Now, about your reader question…what you said to her was so moving and so real. People are so often so quick to give up on relationships because of hard times and the false idea of real love being simple and perfect. I have been victim to this sooo many times with my fiancé.

    Loving someone, truly loving someone, is working through differences and hard times, and still wanting to see that person’s face every morning and night, despite those things. Communicate and let him know where you are and I’m sure I can bet that he will still be ready to stand at that alter and marry the woman he loves! You just need to show each other you are both still there. Life is full of hard shit. LIFE makes LOVE hard.

    It’s nice to know I am not alone in feeling the way your reader does and i hope she’s just as inspired and moved by your words as I was!!! You ROCK Alison!!

  9. Ariana on August 8, 2012

    I completely agree with Alison and everyone above. You have to talk to him. You don’t want to start a marriage that way.

    I won’t repeat all the great advice everyone else has said so I’ll just contribute this, take a weekend away. I know only two months out that seems like crazy talk but it’s important. Fiance and I have a camping trip planned for one month before the wedding. Because you need that time to be with each other, away from wedding stuff. To just focus on your relationship.

    Either way, set up some time to just be with him and place a ban on wedding talk.

  10. Nicole on August 8, 2012

    alison, you are amazing and have offered wonderful advice. i just love reading your blog :)
    i agree with everything you and the comments above say. take time to talk with him about what’s on your mind and you very well may find out that he’s feeling the same way. i think a weekly date night or scheduled phone conversation where you know you are going to have a few hours together, just the 2 of you, to reconnect and not discuss the wedding are so very important!

  11. nicole@bridesmaidsdesses on August 9, 2012

    Dear Alison,
    The fact that you care enough to take the time to respond like you have speaks immensely to your character, your heart and your compassion.

    “True openness is the path to personal truth, and the deepest kind of connection and understanding between human beings.” I could not agree more with this statement. It’s something that my husband and I aim for and have to work at on a daily basis.

    Thank you for reminding me of that.

  12. Caroline on August 10, 2012

    Man I read this post a few days ago but it has taken a few days to smack me in the face with its applicability. You literally nailed the nail on the head. Rebecca Ferguson on repeat! I am so there with the attaching to an idea of how things should be and when it doesn’t work it out perfectly its like the world falls apart. Its a vicious cycle and it takes unconditional love to break it. Still working on that.

  13. bridal girl on August 12, 2012

    Nice song. I can’t get over it now. Thanks for sharing the video. I read about the post too. i guess a lot of people had the same problem as this letter sender. I also had this type of problem before I got married. We broke up a couple of times, and I really wanted to give up. I just knew life would be happier without him.But he stuck with me and did not give up. Now, we have two great kids and we have been married for nine years. Can’t imagine my life now without him.

  14. Estefy on August 17, 2012

    Oh man… I’ve never been in the position of the woman who wrote the DKB letter, however, I have been a position of utterly loneliness and as many of you have said above; the only way out is through-just talk it out. The end result may not be what you think you want and it might ache, but at least it’s not harboring in you.

    Alison, the song really got to me; I cant believe I had never heard of it. I cried a little…I’m such a crybaby lol. Thanks for sharing.


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