Part II of The Love Avoidant: From the Beginning

Last month, we poured through the “what” and the “benefits” of the Love Avoidant. This month, we circle our wagons to the “why.” So, if you missed last month’s Part I, shoot me an email. I will catch you up.

So, how did the Love Avoidant (LA) become so protective? Keep in mind, that no one is crazy to themselves. Something in the LA’s introduction to the world (e.g., childhood) made it necessary and smart to become so walled-off and devoid of connection. Here are a few possible theories why:

(1) The LA learned in his/her early relationships that he/she cannot breathe. In other words, there is not enough air and space for both of us to exist in this relationship. One of us has to go or yield and as a child, that be me. Parents in this scenario are often too big, too emotional, too present. Think grandiose. Or in modern language, even “helicopter” parent. They are boundaryless and intrusive – with no sense of where they stop and others start. The child feels suffocated and smothered as opposed to respected as a separate human being with differing needs, wants and feelings. Thus, the learned translation that is taken into adulthood is that relationships are annihilating. Staying alive means staying away.

(2) The LA was burdened as a child. Perhaps the blossoming LA had a child-parent that turned the parenting job upside down. In other words, the parent depended on the child for emotional and/or physical support. We call this the “Parentified Child” in that the child assumes the responsibilities of a parent. Needless to say, a child is supposed to be a child. Like a little kid dressing up in Daddy’s clothes, the suit just does not fit. It hangs off in surreal humorous dress-up. Something about this is just not right. The child need not be saddled with the impossible and exhausting task of being a grown-up. In a milder form, we see this same dynamic with the Hero Child or Golden Boy/Girl. The child incorporates and lives into this image and standard of whom he/she is supposed to be. This performance-based esteem is so tiresome and unsustainable that placing oneself in a position of replicating this pressure is to be avoided at all costs.

(3) The LA was not given permission to separate and individuate in a healthy way. If done well, parenting is a selfless job with no payback and no strings attached. A healthy parent expects his/her kids to abandon him/her. In fact, if my kids stick around as adults eating my food and sleeping on my couch, then I have done them a grave disservice. I have not aided their psychologically healthy task of leaving me both emotionally and physically. And that is often the case of the LA. He/she had parents that were demanding of their love, time and affection. A relationship was modeled as one of obligation as opposed to choice and generosity. Thus, the internalized message is that relationships are draining and entrapping. If you get in, you are stuck and powerless. Better to either not get in or get in half-ass with some connection but not with whole engagement.

So, understandable that the LA might avoid connection and real intimacy. But is that the end of the story? Must we be a victim to our own psychology? Hope not.

Next month: the benefits to reconsidering and how to go about doing so. 

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