Love Avoidance

Love avoidance is a compulsive relational cycle that appears to be intimate and relational but is, in reality, too needy, vulnerable and dependent. It is a refusal to show love for someone for fear of being hurt or rejected. Love avoidance is not actually about avoiding love, it is a fear of healthy intimacy stemming from childhood relational trauma. In relationships, love avoidants usually need to be praised, pampered and put up on a pedestal in order to feel comfortable, wanted and loved.

Love avoidants act in extremes causing pain for themselves and those with whom they trying to be relational. They fear commitment and emotional attachment which only brings misery and frustration. A love avoidant may like the idea of being in a relationship but the thought of expressing his authentic thoughts and feelings makes him cringe. To be intimate and close with another feels like they are being drained and suffocated. A love avoidant may be charming and seductive initially, but once in the relationship, begins to distance himself behind walls of grandiosity, silence and anger or creates intensity outside of the relationship. Eventually, the love avoidant returns to the relationship after experiencing feelings of guilt and/or fear of abandonment.

Love avoidants seek closeness but then push it away when it is offered. They are infamous for defending against love by finding fault with the other person. They like the idea of someone being in the same house with them as long as they are in another room. They long to be accepted without putting in any of the necessary work required for a successful relationship. Some of the internal thoughts may be:

    “Something will be demanded of me that I won’t be able to give.”

    “Love feels so awkward and weird that I don’t want it at all.”

    “If you love me, then there must be something wrong with you.”

Treatment for love avoidance begins by examining the relationship history and working on core issues. Additionally, a deeper look in to childhood relational trauma and unconsciously neglected childhood needs will be encouraged. One love avoidant who had been in recovery for several years from alcohol, drugs, gambling and sex had told me that working on his love avoidance was every bit as difficult for him as working on maintaining his sobriety.

Seth A. Weinstein, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor
Specializing in Addictions, Trauma and Codependency