Barriers to Loving

Barriers to Loving

The yearning to love and be loved in return are among the deepest longings.  Understanding the anxieties that inhibit fulfillment of desire facilitate long sought gratification. Therapy seeks to enhance understanding and gratification.


Some people experience intimacy and sexuality as wrong and unattainable lovers are sought to minimize guilt. Fear of being controlled is an obstacle for others. Attempts to control the beloved minimize anxiety, inhibits spontaneous happy love.  Others derive satisfaction from suffering and choose abusive partners. A tentative sense of self   leads to a fear of being “swallowed up” by the beloved and compel the lover to withdraw. Depressed personalities are angry at prior frustrations in life and fear any expression of emotional need will drive the beloved away. Self absorbed people do not see the beloved, but only a reflection of themselves. Empathizing is difficult.



Feeling threatened by intimacy and sexuality


People who are threatened by intimacy and sexuality tend to be caricatures of masculinity and femininity: Don Juan’s or Femme Fatales. They are unable to consummate an intimate relationship and flee into promiscuity. They, also, retreat into being little boys or little girls in the face of an adult sexual relationship, because they are too guilty to consummate the relationship. This guilt arises from a childhood over involvement with a seductive father and a competitive mother in the case of the girl. The reverse is true of the boy. Intimacy is avoided by choosing unavailable people or by pushing people away when they become too close. Guilt over closeness is stimulated by fears that they are doing something incestuous. Therapy can help them become aware of the origins of their barriers to loving and thus enable them to be freer to love.


Feeling threatened by a fear of being controlled


The fear of being controlled can be a barrier to loving. People who fear being controlled are often stingy with his/her emotions, because he/she fears being openly loving makes him/her vulnerable to being controlled. A fear of being controlled limits the person’s ability to commit to the relationship. Limited commitment has the potential to sabotage the success of the relationship from the beginning. A ledger is kept about what is given because the person fears not getting a return on his/her investment.


Deriving joy in suffering impedes finding happy love


The person derives joy from suffering. He/she chooses an abusive partner or provokes a kind partner. Erotic excitement derives from begging the partner for forgiveness. Drama is necessary, since kind lovers are felt as boring. This pattern has its origins in a mother who was cruel to the child. The child had to repress his/her anger at the mother for her cruelty, because mother’s love was vitally needed. Abuse came to be associated with love. This pattern is displaced on to the beloved.


Fear of making insatiable demands interferes with loving


People are afraid of making demands on the beloved for fear of destroying the relationship. The persons therefore does not express his/her anger at unspoken demands not being gratified. Anger is turned against the self and he/she becomes chronically depressed. Fear of making demands regarded as insatiable arose in childhood when his/her mother withdrew in the face of emotional demands. Depressed personalities fear that his/her demands are too much and cannot see mother’s inability to give.


The compulsion to withdraw interferes with being emotionally present


The person is physically present but emotionally withdrawn from involvement with people and life. Life has ceased to be meaningful as a result of this. Childhood deprivation causes the person to fear that his/her very need for love is too much and is destructive to relationships. This fear of loving leads him/her to withdraw deep inside himself/herself


The compulsive search for the perfect other


The compulsive search for the perfect other arises in people who cannot tolerate the beloved having problems. Flaws in the beloved cause the person to trash the relationship and pursue a new quest for a perfect beloved. The person becomes so profoundly disillusioned with a flawed beloved that he/she is unable to work on problems and resolve them.


The excessively self involved person cannot love because there is no other


The excessively self involved person is unable to love because he/she doesn’t see the other. Self love precludes an ability to see and have empathy for other people. Others exist as shadow people. Early disappointments of his/her needs to be loved leads him/her to depreciate what others have to give him/her. Protection against dependency is achieved in this way. Therapy focuses on the need to devalue the other, facilitates the other “coming alive” and removes a barrier to loving.