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Researchers have looked into the concept of love avoidance, which is often confused with the concept of intimacy avoidance. This can be a highly painful form of distancing that makes a spouse or partner feel deprived and abandoned emotionally. 

Before knowing this, most people did not comprehend what was going on for years and even decades. 

The information provided in this article will assist you in identifying love avoidance and love addiction within your own relationship or marriage.

heart drawn on a wall with the wall breaking

Love avoidance is the reluctance to express affection for fear of being harmed. People who engage in love avoidance are cautious in romantic interactions. These individuals shun closeness to shield themselves from the rejection, loss, and grief associated with personal relationships. People with love avoidance do all in their power to conceal their sensitivity from others, particularly loved ones. Love avoidance is a maladaptive response to relationship stress, not an attempt to avoid love. 

Love avoidants have a history of feeling unloved or unwanted, resulting in a need for unnecessary or excessive approval, compliments, and praise from their partners, spouses, or loved ones in order to boost their self-esteem. The extreme actions of those who resist love, such as avoiding meeting their emotional and sexual needs, can result in self-destruction. They develop a fear of obligations and emotional bonds.

Love avoidance is the deliberate creation of barriers in a romantic relationship in order to avoid becoming emotionally distressed or overwhelmed by another person. Therefore, it prevents genuine intimacy. It can be characterized as emotional anorexia. Relationships are viewed as an emotional drain because the love avoidant men and women consider love to be an obligation or duty. The love-avoidant engages in relationships with love addicts and erects barriers to reduce the relationship’s intensity. 

However, the love addict chases the avoidant more as the avoidant retreats. The avoidant frequently responds to the primary connection with a pattern of deprivation, while engaging in ways that increase intensity beyond that relationship (for example, pursuing sexual encounters or other relationships, work, addictions, etc.). At the far end of the spectrum of avoiding love, a person may also be anorexic to intimacy or affection.

People are hardwired to want love, closeness, intimacy, and affection from others, but they avoid love because they were abandoned, hurt, or lost as children. If a newborn’s needs were not addressed by the mother or another major caregiver, it is likely that the infant will have problems building relationships as an adult.

In some instances, parents did not offer appropriate care, or a parent with mental or physical illness required attention and care from the child. Some individuals develop an attachment disorder as a result of being sheltered, smothered, or overly pampered by a narcissistic parent whose needs were put first.

Neglect or abuse in early childhood can also lead to love aversion, not only at the hands of parents, but also family members, siblings, coaches, teachers, bullies, and others.

Love Addiction is like other addictions in that it can cause emotions of fixation, reliance, social alienation, and emotional withdrawal. While you may consciously seek intimacy, you may be drawn to people with whom you cannot have a healthy relationship. Indicators may comprise of:

  • Your lifestyle, interests, and social routines have profoundly changed to suit or accommodate your spouse and your relationship.
  • When you first met, your partner looked flawless, thoughtful, intelligent, exceptionally charming, and in sync.
  • During the course of your relationship, you believe your partner has become less romantic and more distant.
  • You have placed blame on yourself or felt guilty for your partner’s terrible behavior, including possible physical or verbal abuse.
  • You believe that your partner or spouse will change if you fight and strive hard enough.
  • Even if you ended the relationship, you felt alienated and suffered to be single when it ended.
  • You have already encountered abandonment in relationships, such as a  caregiver or parent neglecting, ignoring, or abandoning you, or the death of a loved one.
  • You recognize Love Avoidance traits in your current or previous partner.

Love Avoidance may make you shun closeness out of fear of being exhausted, overwhelmed, or manipulated. You may set up relationship boundaries to keep from getting too involved, but you may still be drawn to people who need “rescuing” or who show too much interest and affection. Indicators may consist of:

  • Seeing yourself as a ‘wonder lady’ or ‘white knight’ and feeling driven to assist those in need or distress.
  • Avoiding emotional vulnerability and complete honesty in partnerships
  • Being excessively judgmental of your partner, seeing them as weak, or despising them for being dependent.
  • A relationship that leaves one feeling restricted, smothered, frustrated, or trapped.
  • Communicating passive-aggressive or blatantly aggressive thoughts.
  • Victimization or rationalization of unhealthy behaviors, such as overwork, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, infidelity, or risk-taking.
  • Returning to relationships because of remorse or a fear of abandonment, or attempting to locate replacements immediately after a breakup.
  • Prior experiences of caring for or protecting parents, whether due to an addiction, disability, or mental illness
  • You notice signs of love addiction in your current or previous relationship.

If you think you might have a problem with love addiction or avoidance, you can use the online self-assessment screening tests to find out if you have the major signs of codependency and relationship problems.

When a love addict and a love-avoidant person are in a relationship, a typical and foreseeable cycle is initiated. We refer to this unhealthy attachment pattern as the Love Avoidance Cycle or Love Avoidance-Addiction Cycle.

As you will see, this cycle illustrates the beginning and progression of the relationship between a love addict and a love-avoidant man or woman. It is an unstable, toxic, unhealthy cycle characterized by a distressing ‘push-pull dance’ that involves emotional lows and highs where the Love addict is on the hunt and the Love Avoidant is on the run.

At the start of an addictive relationship, the euphoric “highs” that love addicts experience are notably pronounced.

With the progression of this avoidant relationship cycle, anxiety over the degree of distancing or closeness drives both the distancer (avoidant) and pursuer (love addict) in a ‘crazy-making, yo-yo dance’ – eventually culminating in both partners feeling upset, depressed, distressed and miserable in the relationship, especially if the love addict tries to enter love withdrawal.

Love addicts have an underlying fear of intimacy, whereas avoidants have an underlying fear of abandonment.

This cycle is fueled by the conflict between the love addict’s intense anxiety about being abandoned and the love avoidant’s intense fear of intimacy.

When a love avoidant notices a love addict’s need for closeness and intimacy, it triggers their intense fear of intimacy, because closeness and intimacy make them feel like they’re being smothered and controlled.

These fundamental anxieties motivate the repellant forces of each partner, thereby perpetuating the toxic love avoidance cycle.

The initial step is to recognize the problem is there. Once love avoidance is acknowledged, there are ways for becoming more emotionally responsive to the emotions of others. Some people may need help controlling their anger before they can get the right treatment for avoiding love.

Long-term love-avoidant treatment for the avoidance of romantic relationships resembles trauma treatment. It requires the reconciliation of early childhood events and emotional candor. To treat symptoms of anxiety or depression, education, cognitive therapy, and in some circumstances medication are employed.

Treatment for the avoidance of romantic relationships frequently entails stabilization of other issues, such as substance abuse or addiction. Alcohol and drug addiction therapy or rehabilitation is frequently the first and most crucial step. A treatment facility that specializes in dual diagnosis is able to deal with love avoidance as well as co-occurring conditions like mental illness or addiction.

There are strategies to modify your attachment style such that it swings more toward a secure, trusting approach. Love avoidance treatment is a long-term battle that can last for several years. Curing love avoidance is not restricted to a single medicine or a handful of therapy sessions, but rather a combination of talk therapy, lifestyle changes, partner support, and sometimes medication. To overcome your avoidant attachment style, try the following:

Exercise expressing your emotions. One of the most difficult tasks for someone with an avoidant attachment style is communicating their emotions. Find a means to explore your thoughts, whether you realize how you feel but don’t know how to express it (or do not want to express it!) or you don’t understand what you’re feeling. This could be accomplished by writing, painting, or conversing with an old acquaintance – anything that helps you develop the habit of introspection and expression.

Backtrack through the ages. Contemplate your background and the manner in which you were raised for a period. You may discover anything from your recollections, like why you prefer to interact with others in a certain way.

Just get out of your comfort zone. If your comfort zone excludes other individuals, you should encourage yourself to leave it. Gain a deeper understanding of one or two individuals. Even if you’re beginning to feel like you’d rather be alone, continue to interact with them. While doing this, be aware of your emotions and ask yourself why you are experiencing them.

Discover more about others. You are aware of your independence, but what do you understand exactly about other people? Getting to know someone intimately is a fantastic way to learn empathy. Where did they mature? What type of music do they enjoy, and why? Who do they respect? By understanding more about other individuals, it may become apparent that they are genuine and honest.

Seek the assistance of a therapist. Opening up to a stranger may not sound like the most enjoyable activity, but engaging with a therapist to properly appreciate your relationship tendencies could help you establish a more secure outlook in the future.

  1. Love addiction therapy and love avoidance treatment. Available at: https://www.relationshiptherapistrn.com/love-addiction-love-avoidance.
  2. How to stop being avoidant in relationships. The Couch: A Therapy & Mental Wellness Blog. Available at: https://blog.zencare.co/how-to-stop-being-avoidant-in-relationships.
  3. Typical and avoidant love addicts – breaking the toxic cycle, Johnny Cassell. Available at: https://www.johnnycassell.com/mindset/typical-and-avoidant-love-addicts-how-to-break-the-toxic-cycle-of-love-addiction.
  4. Love avoidance: Addiction. Living Stones Coaching. Available at: https://www.livingstonescoaching.com/loveavoidance.
  5. When Love addiction turns into Love avoidance. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/addiction-and-recovery/202008/when-love-addiction-turns-love-avoidance.

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