What a dichotomy it is to want to be loved, yet fearful of it beyond explanation. Such a condition is called “love avoidance” and it’s a dysfunction I know for my own. It’s a form of “love addiction” and feels like slowly starving even though there is food within reach.
Dr. Janice Caudill wrote, Love avoidance is the systematic putting up of walls in a relationship to prevent feeling emotionally overwhelmed by another person. Consequently, it prevents true intimacy. It can be described as a form of emotional anorexia.
First hand I know love avoidants are romantics. Thirsting for love they spend a lot of time thinking about love and imagining being loved. However, when love arrives in not too long a time the walls begin to go up against it. Sounds crazy doesn’t it. A love avoidant looks for love constantly but runs away when it finds him or her. That the lunacy I lived with for far too long.
Love entered in my heart one day
A sad, unwelcome guest.
But when it begged that it might stay
I let it stay and rest
It broke my nights with sorrowing
It filled my heart with fears
And, when my soul was prone to sing,
It filled my eyes with tears.
But…now that it has gone its way,
I miss the dear ole pain.
And, sometimes, in the night I pray
That Love might come again.
J. California Cooper
Many wounded adults actually avoid love, becoming restless around persons who might provide genuine care and nurturing. In these cases, the closer the adult comes to obtaining the reality of love, the more they will push their partners away. This move, becoming avoidant and trying to create emotional distance within the relationship, is fueled by a fear of intimacy. Some love avoidants push away love as a test to see if their partner will continue to love them even when they are acting disagreeable or unpleasant. This behavior is a result of the conditional and irregular love the wounded adult experienced as children from their caregivers.
The struggle for the love avoidant is that he/she, like anyone else, wants to feel love and closeness. Regardless of what the past emotional, physical and/or sexual wounds might be, there is still an intrinsic desire for the security and affection and healing that comes from love.
For most love avoidants, they are very good at beginning relationships, but horrible at keeping and maintaining a relationship. There is a lot of pulling in and pushing out – pulling in their love interest and then once the connection happens and the relationship becomes deeper, they push their partner away. Douglas Dobberfuhl
It’s said that knowing is half the battle. Today my love avoidant tendencies are not nearly as pronounced as they once were. A good therapist, growing awareness of my habits and consistent work to amend them has made a remarkable difference in my life. Am I cured? Heck no; never will be completely. But I am deeply grateful for the more open heart that lives within me today. It has been a hard-fought battle against myself, but today I have courage enough to step through my fear and let love in.
Of all the events of my life,
inclusive of its afflictions,
nothing has humbled me
so much as your love.
Elizabeth Barrett to Robert Browning