It can be daunting to open our hearts to a stranger as we grow into a relationship and allow our truth to rise to the surface. We risk rejection, but we risk it for the possibility that instead of rejection, we will be loved for who we are...Perfectly imperfect.
The problem is that our past love injuries can create a calloused boundary that has the intention of protecting us from more pain. However, this boundary can prevent us from truly moving in to the beautiful, and often healing connection that only a relationship can provide.
Your love injuries may have happened slowly over years of dating and broken relationships. Over time, you find yourself increasingly closed off, avoiding dating, or keeping your relationships on the surface to avoid more painful heartbreak, loss, and rejection.
Or perhaps you're a Love Resister with an avoidant attachment, and your love injuries are rooted in your childhood. (If you’re not sure what your attachment based Love Style is, you can take the Love Style quiz here to find out.) Love Resisters are wired for independence. Many have a conscious desire for a close relationship, but often find that they struggle with intimacy and connection. Their brains are essentially hardwired to avoid intimacy. When a partner desires increased connection or reassurance from the Love Resister, the Love Resister can experience an uncontrollable urge to distance from a partner. This can make intimacy quite challenging and confusing for both partners.
If you’re a Love Resister or maybe just the thought or experience of intimacy terrifies you, read on. Here are a few heart opening tips to consider:
Forget about the little things.
This tip is especially true for Love Resisters, but it can apply to anyone who struggles with intimacy. Your brain can work hard to keep you from falling in love with a person. You may be dating someone who is close to perfect, and find that all you can focus on is the size of their nose, or the tone of their voice. This hyper focused awareness on a perceived flaw can drive you away from a partner, often leading you to overlook other good qualities.
If you find yourself becoming side tracked by superficial things like this, try to remember that it is a primitive part of your brain trying to protect you. It can get in the way of finding a partner in today’s modern day dating world. It can help to try to move your focus on the positive qualities you find in a partner, and purposely ignore the part of your brain that is trying to focus on the small, superficial traits that really don’t define the whole of a person.
We are all human, bottom line. You will NEVER find a perfect partner, but you can find an imperfectly perfect partner that can be truly rock your world if you can allow yourself to lean in to your fear.
Commitment: NOT a four letter word.
If you fear intimacy, but you know you want a committed relationship, be aware that your brain will find many ways to prevent you from moving forward in a relationship. You may avoid the DTR (you know...the defining the relationship talk). You may find yourself feeling a need to distance right after a physically or emotionally intimate moment or conversation with a partner. You may have some negative beliefs about relationships or marriage, thinking that they are restrictive or impossible.
With awareness, you can learn to recognize these impulses as attachment related, and that they aren’t going to necessarily serve your long term relationship goals. If you find yourself pulling away after a close moment with a partner, try leaning in to the discomfort. Understand that your brain is simply trying to keep you safe, in a survival strategy it learned when you were very young. Ask yourself, do you really need that strategy now, as an adult who wants a committed relationship? You may find that this no longer serves you, and you can learn to open yourself to intimacy instead of avoiding it.
Just because you can do it on your own, doesn’t mean you have to.
In a culture that values independence and scorns the idea of dependence, you may have been encouraged to do everything on your own. This is particularly true for the Love Resister, where you were likely given this message from an early age. You may even have a lot of pride in your ability to be so self-reliant. You may not feel comfortable asking for help, or you may engage in solo activities because you are comfortable doing so. However, this can isolate you from others, and leave potential partners feeling like you are keeping them at an arm’s length.
Try inviting a date or partner to an activity that you would typically do alone, even if it feels like a stretch. Ask for help, and see if you can push yourself to learn to receive. Experiment with creating more together time than alone time in your life, whether it is with partners, friends, or family.
Science has demonstrated to us that as humans, we perform better in all of our day to day activities, and generally live longer, happier, and healthier lives when we have a partner with whom we share our lives with. Yes, it is true, dependence is actually good for you.
Interested in learning more about intimacy, attachment, and the Four Love Styles? Check out the Loves Styles courses here.