Many people are avoiding love, and there are many ways to hide from it. Is it your secret that you have never had an intimate relationship? Or, did someone hurt you and you are afraid to get hurt again?
Even while being in relationships there are ways to avoid love. If you start relationships but they soon make you feel smothered, you might cheat – or stay at work longer than you have to. Or you could keep your distance from the beginning by getting involved with people who are married, or “just not that into you.” Are you having random sex but no real emotional connection? That’s hiding from love too.
Although finding love is romanticized and idealized, not everyone is actually looking for it. So what makes someone become “love avoidant”? Here are a few reasons:
- Shame about vulnerability: Men in particular have always been encouraged to suppress their emotions. Strength and self-reliance are stereotypical “masculine” traits, which men have been encouraged to develop. These values create shame and conflict for men when emotional vulnerability is called for.
- Childhood abuse: Abuse of any kind–physical, verbal, emotional, sexual–is terribly damaging. It can causes a defense against vulnerability in both women and men.
- Emotional Neglect: Parents do not have to be abusive to do damage. If love and affection isn’t expressed verbally and physically in a family, children may grow up to feel unloved, and unworthy of love, uncomfortable with displays of emotion, and inadequate to give or receive.
- Loss: Loss of a loved one early in life – especially a parent, can cause a person to retreat emotionally. Fears of repeated loss make people afraid to take the risk of entering into relationships.
If you recognize yourself here, there is a way out. Therapy can help. Therapy is a private and sensitive process which can lead you to discover and heal the hurts that block you from having love in your life. Allowing yourself to feel all your emotions without shame will open up your life to new possibilities. You will also learn to communicate those emotions with others so that you can be emotionally close while still feeling safe. Change is possible, and it is worth the effort.