Intimacy Avoidance and How it’s destroying your relationships.
Most of us have entered into relationships (at some point in our lives) with partner who wasn’t able to emotionally connect, invest. Instead you walked away feeling dismissed and shut down by your partner. Not being able to truly understand why your partner has become detached, emotionally despondent.
“Maybe I am the problem,” You said to yourself. “Perhaps if I give this person space,” and the self talk continues. The good news is you may not be the problem after all. You aren’t asking for to much. You simply want a healthy relationship that is built on the foundation of intimacy. Perhaps you’re someone whom struggles with maintaining intimacy within your relationships because you have a strong belief that it is weak, unnecessary or because you may fear a deep connection that no longer allows you to hide behind your armor. In any event our experts have provided us with psychological evidence for this on-going problem within our western climate.
According to international sexual addiction expert, psychologist Robert Weiss; Founder Of The Sexual Recovery Institute published an article www.robertweissmsw.com that states: Being human means biologically wired to community and to bond with another ( even in short term) as both actions are integrally bound to the survival of our species. Weiss eludes that there are many among us who long for connection and deep intimacy. But also fear physical and emotional closeness in equal measure in their desire for closeness. Weiss blatantly says that these people are unable or unwilling to seek out or maintain the human intimacies that help us all self-sooth, regulate and to simply feel communion with another.
Robert Weiss states in his article that some of these folks may avoid close relationships all together. While other intimacy avoidant individuals choose to enter into relationships. These relationships usually start out fairly well, with an intense emotional attraction. Thus leading to a deeply felt but superficial connection. After a short time span the intimacy avoidant person begins to feel trapped, smothered and bored. Causing the person to focus solely on their partners short comings and begins to disengage. This person may go from one I’ll fated relationship to the next, or may avoid romantic, sexual relationships forever.
Hal Shorely Ph. D, Founder of The Freedom to change provided his own research that shows
fear of intimacy and closeness within relationships is the norm for about 17 % of adults in the western culture. Shorely states that it is in large biological reaction engrained in the structures of the central nervous system through parenting practices in childhood. Shorely describes his attachment theory: All children have a need to stay close to their parents so that they can attain protection and comfort when frightened or distressed. How the parents respond to the child in these moments has an enormous impact on their child’s developing personality. Furthermore, Parents who’ve become avoidant, distance of intimacy tend to (reject) the childrens neediness or perceived weakness. One example of such demonstrated behavior from parent to child is: Boy’s don’t cry! A common phrase that’s been ingrained in most men. Weiss suggests that these types of parents are usually intolerant of their children challenging them, or simply allowing their children to share their feelings such as agitation, hurt, fear anger- etc. This behavior demonstrated from parent to child enables the child to falsely idolize their parents. If the child were to otherwise not place rose colored glasses on, it can cause extreme anxiety.
This taught behavioral pattern often time teaches people to suppress and ignore negative emotions typically dismissing them and defaulting to their false state of being okay. Which enables the person to deny the need for closeness, and strong feelings- vulnerability is often avoided. Because this person has learned to ignore and dismiss their own emotions they often times perform to the same measure within their relationships. Leaving them “emotionally color blind,” as Hal Shorley phrased it in his psychologytoday.com article. Due to these individuals being emotionally color blind it’s beyond challenging attempting to confront, bring awareness to them in regards of our own feelings. They end up having an inaccurate perception of events because this would mean they would have to acknowledge their own negative emotions.
Hal Shorley Ph. D has concluded that there is light at the end of the tunnel though. Shorley states that these simple practices, techniques:
Practice reading other peoples emotions, checking in on them.
When other people express negative emotions; stand your ground and listen.
Learn to label and communicate your emotions.
Realize that your calm emotional and rational approach to relationship issues is likely to make people feel invalid, dismissed.
Don’t place your work and career in front of your relationships.
If you happen to be in a relationship with an avoidant person here’s what you can do:
Realize when the avoidant person shuts down.
Remember that even though the avoidant person will deny it; they are afraid of strong and painful negative emotions.
If the avoidant person needs to get away, don’t chase them it’ll only make them run faster.
Realize that you need a great deal of intimacy and the avoidant person may simply not be able to provide or meet your needs.
Be able to communicate ( with a soft touch) Sharing what you think he or she is feeling and why.
Weiss concludes that HELP AVAILABLE! He shares with us that, though attachment styles are established in childhood, they are not permanently locked in. With therapy and or through the process of establishing healthy, healing relationships, people with intimacy issues can develop what is known as “earned security,” overcoming their childhood pathology and learning how to establish true intimacy and lasting emotional connection.