There are those who seek safety in love and a haven from the world. This is an error. Love is inherently unstable and thus no haven at all. The second idea about safety is that it is safe to remain who we are and avoid the risks attendant upon the adventure of becoming through love the person we have not yet discovered.
The danger of suffering in love is nothing compared to the danger of discovering that one has never lived, that one has never taken the risk of feeling wholly vulnerable and alive. Suffering is less an agony than to live without affect. Suffering is a reminder that we are still alive. Affectlessness is a reminder that we are failing to live. Our secret fear is that nothing can move us. Sometimes it is necessary to look at our internal barriers to loving, if we are to be freer to love.
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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. Therapy can help them become aware of the origins of their barriers to loving and thus enable them to be freer to love.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 compulsive search for the perfect 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 other 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.
The excessively self involved person cannot love because there is no other