“An inhibition is a force that prevents something from happening—and often comes from you yourself. “In my opinion this definition from Vocabulary.com describes inhibition the best. The reason one forms these inhibitions could range from a personal experience, hearsay, or societal norms.
Often we are not even aware that we have certain inhibitions when it comes to relationships. Most of these slip into our subconscious. In many cases, they are only discovered over time by another individual (friend, sibling, counselor) when they see a pattern being established. A 55-year-client of mine, B, is keen to get into a relationship. In the past 35 years, B has been on many dates and in two long term relationships. Her last relationship ended three years ago. She has been actively dating for the last one year without any success of being in a committed relationship.
As we go through her relationship journey, she describes two incidents that she deeply regrets. The first was at a business school, where one of her classmates was madly in love with her. B liked him too. But when he proposed, she declined. The second regret is from a decade after this incident, when her best friend’s colleague proposed to her. Again, she really liked him, again he proposed, and again she said no. It took us a couple of sessions to establish that the reason she said no to both these gentlemen is because she felt her parents will never approve these matches—they both hailed from middle class backgrounds and she from a wealthy business family. The difference in economic and societal status was the hitch. It was not that her parents explicitly told her this. B had heard many proposals being rejected in the past—of her aunts and older cousins—for this reason.
B is not alone in forming such inhibitions. Another client of mine, G, was told by an aunt—unhappily married to a lawyer—to never consider any proposals that came from any lawyers. This came up in our sessions after six months. G was describing how she liked a colleague and had been flirting with him till she realised he worked in a legal team and was a lawyer.
The other common inhibition we form is related to our self-worth. A lot of my clients question why someone likes them. They are surprised that someone who they think is “out of their league” shows interest in them. “She is so fit and I am over weight “. “I am so short, he is so tall”. “I am not as fair as he is”. From the amount of money they earn to something as bizarre as not liking their own voice—I am dismayed at the pressure we put on ourselves when we believe we are not worth it.
The other huge inhibition most people continue to have is that of women dating a younger man and a man dating an older woman. Both B and G have this inhibition too. Both these women look much younger than their biological age. Both get approached by younger men and both of them dismiss these men automatically. In fact, G had almost started dating a 30-year-old, whom she met at an alumni meet, until she discovered the year he had graduated. The man in question already knew her year of graduation and did not have a problem with her being five years older than him.
When it comes to love and attraction, I encourage you to let these feelings flow, without any doubts or inhibitions. B didn’t give it much thought when she declined the two gentlemen, who proposed to her. They have both gone on to become very successful individuals. In fact, her best friend is now married to the man that B had declined. Now, according to B, she would have had a great married life with either of these men, as they were and have now turned out to be the kind of men she always wanted to be with. She wishes to have questioned the reason why she was really declining their proposals.
I recommend that we all must do that. An easy way to do this is to bucket the reasons in categories: hearsay (G’s aunt telling her to not be with a lawyer); societal norm (again, G not continuing to pursue a younger man, despite the attraction; personal experience (B having experienced how her parents and family rejected proposals that came from those, whose financial and social status did not match theirs).
Getting rid of your inhibitions is extremely important when it comes to relationships. Unfortunately, it takes time to realise we have these inhibitions. If you are also attracted to, or interested in someone and are holding back, please dig deeper to know the why of it. The reason to not explore being with someone should only be that you don’t feel the attraction. Or if you notice abusive behaviour. Any other reason needs to be re-considered.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org