Finding Love

A new map of the path to intimacy

What No One Teaches Us About Love

Fear of intimacy isn’t a character flaw rendering us unfit for intimacy; it is part of being human. If we're breathing, we have fear of intimacy. The real question is: How do we keep love at arms length-and what can we do to change that? Read More

Hello, it has been a long

Hello, it has been a long time since your last newsletter. Been busy building a relationship ;-) I wonder if everyone really has a desire to communicate at a deeper or intimate level. What about people who just need time out for themselves? By that I mean to find some 'quiet time' without engaging in any deep relationship. Do you think this is an egotistical or narcissistic attitude. Is there such a need as solitude? Or would you qualify that as 'escapism'? Is it badly seen in our society not to be in any kind of intimate relationship?

Solitude is sometimes

Solitude is sometimes necessary, we need time alone in order to reflect and ponder what has already occurred.

agreed!!

I agree completely. Being alone doesnt have to mean being lonely. take time to know yourself before you learn about others.

Nothing Presented Here Will Work

Examine the WHY behind fear of relationships and intimacy.

Next, define what intimacy really is.

Get to the heart of WHY dysfunction exists in the first place.

Then, tell people how to deal with their baggage.

Its what I do in my work with clients.

Truly a Fear?

Can you truly say that fear of intimacy is a part of life? What about the people who don't want to be in a relationship. What about those who just prefer the solitude and a few friends? I think the notion of requiring a relationship to be happy in our society is what brings up the "fear of intimacy". We brand the loners as people who are just afraid to commit or fear intimacy with others. But you can love others without being intimate, by just wishing them well and for happiness. The type of love you seem to speak of seems possessive, clinging almost. Like I "must" have this, that patterns I have are keeping me from what I want. But the fact is that we don't know what people want.

Also just because someone is close to you does not mean that they actually know you. They can see what's on the surface, but the depths are a mystery. I should know, for even my own parents have no idea what I'm actually like.

There is a reason behind what you're stating..

People need people - that is a social and biological fact.

Clearly you do not understand what real love is - its not something done at a distance or in passing. That is not love, that is merely a greeting amongst two ships passing in the night.

How about defining what intimacy is, instead of the constant back and forth.

People do need people, yes.

People do need people, yes. There is a reason why we chose to build dwellings near each other.

But love for someone is wishing them well and to be happy. In that sense you can love everyone in the world. This whole intimacy issue sounds like clinging, wanting to belong or to have someone. It's possession, whether we like to admit it or not. It gives us security, but it also makes it that much harder when they leave, die, or cheat. Because it feels like a part of us was taken, but in reality it was just them being their own person. They are not "ours", no one belongs to anyone. I think that's what people mean by intimacy, that sort of ownership.

What you are describing is not love

It sounds like you have a lot of pain and anguish in your past - I'd recommend that you get to the roots of that and then come back and talk about love and relationships. I guarantee you'll have a different experience after therapy.

It would seem that you are

It would seem that you are mistaken. I have not suffered pain in my past that makes me believe this way. I've been through relationships, but the key thing I noticed was that it was always about possession. This is MY boyfriend, MY lover, it's always a matter of possession. True love is not limited by possession. It is wanting someone to be well, to want them to be happy, and you can do that with just about anyone.

The "love" you describe is attachment. All the statements I hear are he MAKES ME laugh, he's there for ME, he loves ME. Despite that relationships are a team effort, it's surprising how much it's about us. When they cheat we say "how could you do this to ME?", as if they were something that BELONGED to us all along, that is why when things are not working we cling and claw to keep something. But in truth they are two independent people, each different and each having their hopes and dreams. There is no way to own them, and the "love" most people think of is pretty selfish. We want someone all to ourselves, asking they exclude others for us. Which brings it back to my point, it's not love it is attachment.

Haha. You sound like new-age

Haha. You sound like new-age believer. But the thing is, I used to think that too; that the ideal, "perfect" love needs no attachment, that we'll just live peacefully every day because "we're so in peace" with ourselves. Huh. Well that ain't really "living" isn't it? That's just like a form of AVOIDANCE in life, in love.

Love IS attachment. Love IS selfishness, clinging, being desperate to another. Once we actually ACKNOWLEDGE and ACCEPT that, then we can finally learn to be loved. Isn't peace about accepting everything, and not for once, hoping that something else is different?

The thing about love that I realise is that, we are going to be our worst selves when we love another person. We are going to be that desperate, fear-induced person- and it's all a part of our human experience I guess. I think that how you ACT when those moments arise, when you feel the need to be needy, when you feel hopeless about a lost love- is much more important. When you're in love, you're going to be really needy and attached to the other person; you've just got to accept that.

Of course, just because you're really needy with them doesn't mean you cannot live your own life to the best that it can be. You learn how to live for your own self, and you learn that your loved one has a separate life than you. But it doesn't mean that you still don't have those needy-induced feelings whatsoever with him or her.

It sounds quite elitist of you to say that you understand love more than everybody else. You seem to be the one who is most confused by it. :)

You sound terrified of love.

You sound terrified of love. "Clinging, wanting to belong or to have someone. It's possession" - yep, that's a big part of the deal. I really wish you well and happy.

I don't think you understand

I don't think you understand love. Mostly when people think of love they think of HAVING someone. It's a clinging, a need to hold onto someone because we are scared of being alone. Because society tells us that being single is misery. In reality it's not, but that's what gets drilled into our heads.

I'm not afraid of "love", I just have a better understanding of what you call "love".

Completely agree. Seems like

Completely agree. Seems like if you do not have attachment, romantic love, than you are unhappy. To be truthful, my happier years had nothing to do with that. I really think that the idea of linking love and happiness is something that has created a lot of suffering in western society.

Agree

I enjoy romance and intimacy when it is available, but when I reflect on my life the times that stand out in my mind as the most satisfying are the ones that I spent alone engaged in some activity.

The older I get (55 now) the less I seem to need romantic intimacy. This feeling is liberating and I grow happier and more satisfied by the year.

I enjoy the feeling of being well loved, but the need for strong romantic attachments is waning pretty quickly.

I think that feeling of

I think that feeling of wanting someone is a thing we feel when young, especially in a society that where being single is considered a death sentence almost. But in time we learn that that is not the case and slowly become happy with ourselves.

The overall quality of one's life

Improves immeasurably when one learns how to be their own best friend!!!

Completely agree. Seems like

Completely agree. Seems like if you do not have attachment, romantic love, than you are unhappy. To be truthful, my happier years had nothing to do with that. I really think that the idea of linking love and happiness is something that has created a lot of suffering in western society.

I like your thoughts on this subject.

So True. I agree.

We must not forget the fact

We must not forget the fact that to be intimate means also to be vulnerable, to expose our flaws etc. Fear of rejection plays a role in not being intimate. I also believe that some people, although they need social contacts they do not necessarily have deep feelings about human beings. We must not create a need for intimacy as a requirement for being well functioning. It will translate later as a 'dysfunction' if it is not a need in the first place.

When some people jump of

When some people jump of cliffs, they don't build wings on the way down, they build claws. Deep in the core of them, where fear lurks, they have learned, intuitively and paradoxically , that love is a threat to survival.

Our fears of intimacy are not equal, they are learned behaviours from our earliest intimate relationship.

As a species we are born preprogramed to bond for our survival. As we mature, this becomes the love part of the equation in relational dynamics.

Our brains have a fear/alarm system called “the amygdala”. These are 2 small “almond shaped” structures centrally located in the brain in an area referred to as the limbic system. This is a primitive area of the brain that we share with all mammals. This fear/alarm system is autonomous and instinctual. It operates automatic defences. How much control we have over its instinctual impulses depends a great deal on how our brains grew as a response to our early emotional environments. And how much independent influence they impose relies on the strength of connections to regulatory systems in the brain (like the prefrontal cortex).

For instance, if our early experiences involved repeated or prolonged and intense periods of fear, then the areas of the brain associated with responding to danger will receive a boost in energy towards development of these particular areas, other areas, especially ones that moderate and calm the danger response, might not receive the same developmental energy and therefore growth that they might otherwise receive in a nurturing environment is impeded. We develop a heightened arousal for danger signals because our developmental experiences have educated neurons within the areas associated with fear response that the world we are growing up in is a dangerous world.

The fear/alarm system is memory based. When I say memory, it is not the kind of memory that you can recall in sounds or images. The fear/alarm system has its own memory system, often referred to as state level memory, or intrinsic memory. We are born with very few fears. Fears are primarily learnt. It works by recording something that caused distress, or fear for survival, and responding with a simple question of 2 responses, should I fight the threat or should I run away. This fight or flight response is very primitive, instinctual and basic to all mammals. Once the amygdala has experienced something that caused fear, it remembers that experience and the fear/alarm response switch is automatically triggered should a reminder of that experience occur.

People that have experienced threat or fear at the hands of their earliest emotional bonds, at a very primitive level of their brain, react to emotional bonding with this fight or flight response. And the truth be told, we have all experienced some form or level of threat or fear at the hands of our earliest emotional bonds. We’ve all been punished to some extent or another by our parents and we’ve all experienced this with some level of fear response program. So we all suffer, to some extent or another, a fear response to emotional bonding.

But when you throw in to this equation prolonged and intense fear during early stages of development, like you might, say, in cases of abuse, neglect, parental abandonment or parental death. The programmed autonomous response of “emotional bonding means danger” is much stronger, dominant and irresistible.

It’s easily able take over our behaviours and perceptions because survival is a priority of the organism.

It’s a survival response. The primitive part of the brain literally thinks that “love” is a threat to survival and then the brain goes through a “connect the dots” calculation and concludes that the object of love is actually the threat to survival and must either be fought to drive it away or evaded and distanced from, so that it is no longer a danger. This whole behavioural process is dictated by the amygdala. When we haven’t developed a good system of regulation of the amygdala from the connections our neurons grew as we developed through insufficient parental nurture, the amygdala is able to literally hijack us and take over our behaviours, actions and perceptions in the interest of survival.

Makes sense

Our initial attachments might be the boilerplate for every relationship thereafter - especially romantic ones.

What we experience later on in life is a repeat version of what we experienced with our primary caregiver as an infant.

fear of intimacy after betrayal

what if your spouse had an emotional affair, and after reconciliation, insists on lying about whereabouts and calling or texting another person. Doesn't this cause a fear of intimacy and how does such a relationship work?

It can be complex, that is

It can be complex, that is why it is simplified here.
First we all have an emotional history to deal with, or perhaps a mental road block, whether an illness or a general mistrust.
What is not addressed is trusting ourselves first.
Then we can take steps to allow others in.
Actually learning to trust our selves is the biggest initial step. Every one has extra curricular broken trusts(parents, lovers , friends), so if we have a sound foundation of self love and trust we will learn to work past former, current or future betrayals. After all , that is our greatest fear in intimate relationships, betrayal of trust.

Further explaining

Can you please further explain what do you mean by trusting yourself. And how does trusting oneself help with accepting to be with a dishonest partner?

Live by your core values you don't accept dishonest behavior

Trusting yourself would mean that if you find your partners behavior to be unacceptable and dishonest - within the context of what you thought was to be a sexually exclusive relationship - that you would choose not to be with that person.

Trusting yourself would mean that you live by your core values and if someone repeatedly violates your core values (whether with infidelity with sexuality, money, etc.) then you would find the strength to depart the toxic relationship.

Just remember; the hardest

Just remember; the hardest people to love are those that need it the most, if we are to build a better, more loving world.

The warrior puts themselves on the front line and confronts the danger.

time

Time= wisdom. no one should be allowed to marry until after 30. my 2 cents

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Ken Page, L.C.S.W., is a New York based psychotherapist, author and lecturer specializing in the search for intimacy. His insights about the search for love have been featured frequently in the media. more...

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