Why Can't Some People Maintain Intimate Relationships? | HealthyPlace
There are relationship partners who can give love out but cannot take it in. They may seem as Not Being Able to Sustain Prolonged Intimacy. For the first 32 years of my life, I was generally incapable of maintaining meaningful romantic relationships. My love life had been chock full of. My only labeled relationship was my senior year of high school and it start wondering if we're just not capable of a being in a relationship.
Sheltered in this mini-world, the person experienced little shared pleasure and little disappointment. As I have described in other essays on this site, often the child's unconscious adaptation to a dysfunctional family interferes with his or her adult relationships. This is certainly true for children who retreat. Because the real self is safely tucked away, the adult must "invent" a different one that will appear as normal as possible and be able to negotiate the day to day interactions of adult life.
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Invented selves, however, have no interest in true intimacy. Instead, they exist as a kind of interface between the true self and the outside world, carefully monitoring and controlling what is allowed in and out. Often partners notice the "wooden" nature of their response or their obliviousness. A client once told me that her spouse [a software engineer] had sat in another couple's living room reading a book while the hosts were having a rip-roaring fight. She thought he was reading so as not to embarrass the couple.
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But when she asked him what he thought of the fight, he replied: They channel all of their energy toward a particular pursuit, and away from everything else that is happening around them. Computer related jobs are often ideal for these people, as are other tasks that require solitary focus and tremendous dedication to the exclusion of other life needs and demands.
Workaholics often fit this category. Can people like this be helped? Yes, but often long-term therapy is required. People who have built such walls jump at intellectual explanations of their problems, but this, by itself, does not help much. The relationship with the therapist is critical. That's because we learn what intimacy is from our early relationships and are drawn, consciously or unconsciously, to what we know.
Children who grow up taking care of a parent with a chronic illness may be disconnected from their feelings. Having rigid, overly-controlling parents can make it difficult for children -- and later, adults -- to make decisions, while neglectful or uninvolved parents may raise individuals with a strong need for attention.
Although the problem started in childhood, its effects can linger long into adulthood, often in the form of mistrust, a need for control, or difficulty building and maintaining relationships.
While no childhood is perfect, certain types of dysfunction tend to get played out in relationships. Take addiction, for example.
Studies show that kids who grow up in alcoholic families bring the problems of their youth into their grown-up romantic relationships. Children of alcoholics tend to marry into families with alcohol problems.
Daughters of alcoholics are more than twice as likely to marry an alcoholic as daughters of non alcoholics. When choosing a partner, we go with what we know.
Childhood Trauma Physical, emotional or sexual abuse in childhood can have lifelong effects. In relationships, survivors of early trauma often struggle with social isolation, attachment problems and inability to trust. If they are able to commit to a serious relationship, their partners may complain that they are needlessly jealous or insecure. As many as 80 percent of abused children meet the criteria for a mental health disorder at age 21 -- depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders being among the most common.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as two-thirds of patients in addiction treatment programs were abused as children.
All of these disorders can compound the difficulties abused children experience in adult relationships. For many, the cycle of abuse doesn't end with them.
According to some estimatesone-third of abused children go on to abuse their own children. Others find themselves continually seeking out abusive or unavailable partners, subconsciously trying to recreate the childhood trauma so it can be resolved. Unfortunately, the usual outcome isn't the ability to rewrite history, but rather more rejection and trauma.
Love Addiction Genuine intimacy is impossible for people actively struggling with relationship, romance or love addiction. That's because love addicts are repeatedly drawn to people who can't express their feelings, are afraid of commitment or are otherwise emotionally unavailable.
They use sex and other schemes to keep a partner around, fearing that they'll be worthless without someone to care for them. Despite a long history of chaotic relationships, love addicts continue desperately searching for "the one," falling in and out of love quickly and sometimes clinging to a partner who falls far short of their standards.
Love addiction can be treated, usually by addressing trauma or dysfunction from childhood and learning what healthy intimacy looks like. Unrealistic Expectations Our expectations surrounding sex and relationships are always evolving, perhaps never more so than in the digital age.