The Love Avoidant


The Love Avoidant

Characteristics of The Love Avoidant:

  • Love Addicts are attracted to people with certain identifiable and fairly predictable characteristics, and people with these characteristics are attracted to Love Addicts in return.  The primary attribute marking all of the characteristics on the “model” partner for a Love addict is avoidance, which seems incredible to their partners since Love Avoidants come on to their partners so strongly at first.


  1. Love Avoidants evade intensity within the relationship by creating intensity in activities (usually addictions) outside the relationship.
  2. Love Avoidants avoid being known in the relationship in order to protect themselves from engulfment and control by the other person.
  3. Love Avoidants avoid intimate contact w/their partners, using a variety of processes such as “distancing techniques.”
  • A fundamental trait of the relationships Love Avoidants have with others is real abandonment.  Love Avoidants don’t share who they are in a realistic way with their children.  They conduct life from behind  protective emotional walls, and, like unseen puppeteers, they continually try to control the choices of other people with whom they are seeking relationship.

Two Fears: One Conscious, The other Unconscious:

  • Love Avoidants consciously (and greatly) fear intimacy because they believe that they will be drained, engulfed, and controlled by it.  In childhood they were drained, engulfed, and controlled by somebody else’s:
  1. Neediness
  2. Reality
  3. Existence

And they don’t want to go through that experience again.

  • Unconsciously:  Love Avoidants fear being left at some level.  The fear in adulthood stems from being abandoned as a child by the caregiver, since when a child is forced to nurture the parent, the parent abandons the child’s needs for nurture.
  • Love Avoidants really want a relationship, but they also fear them: Since Love Avoidants usually had very little human contact in childhood that relieved the pain, fear, and emptiness of abandonment, they did not learn that a relationship can relieve these feelings. But this unconscious fear of being left draws Love Avoidants towards relationships, even though they have great difficulty making a commitment or connecting to their partner.

Why are Love Avoidants Attracted to Love Addicts?

  • Love Avoidants recognize and are attracted to the Love Addict’s strong fear of being left because Love Avoidants know that all they have to do to trigger their partner’s fear is threaten to leave.  Love Avoidants believe that being in control this way will allow them to escape being drained, engulfed, and controlled, and at a deeper level to avoid being left themselves.


Same Two Fears

Conscious Fear                            Unconscious Fear

Love Avoidant:

Intimacy                                 Abandonment

Love Addict:

Abandonment                               Intimacy

Evading Intensity within the Relationship:

  • Love Avoidants keep intensity w/i a relationship to a minimum.
  • They can avoid intimacy because they focus on something outside the relationship. (ie. addictions)
  • Because of the addiction, they are not available for intimacy. This creates a distance in the relationship the Avoidant wants.
  • The Love Addict gets the feeling the Avoidant is not really in the relationship because they are not.
  • The addiction outside of the relationship the Avoidant focuses on gives him/her a  sense of energy, of being involved in life; they don’t feel such energy within the relationship because they keep it at a low intensity.  A Love Addict’s awareness of this absence of energy furthers a sense of too much distance from her partner.


  • Intimacy involves sharing information about the self with a nonjudgmental listener.  Avoidants avoid intimacy because of an intense fear of being used, engulfed, controlled, or manipulated if they share themselves with someone else.  These fears come from childhood where caregivers used information to manipulate them into taking care of the caregiver.

Avoiding Intimacy within the Relationship:

  1. Using walls instead of Healthy Boundaries
  2. Using distractions
  3. Staying in control of the Relationship
  4. Addictions

Control in the Relationship:

  • Love Avoidants try to control the $, be the powerful one, and have more value as a way to be in control of their partners.  This deep need to be in control stems from their greatest fear: that someone else dictate who they have to be.
  • They get a sense of empowerment that comes from rescuing and being adored by the needy, and apparently helpless, Love Addict.
  • Be right in all situations, because being wrong is to lose control.
  • Sometimes physical power and abuse to control.


  1. Create intensity outside the relationship.
  2. Medicate intolerable reality.
  3. Get the attention of the Love Addict. The message to the Love Addict is “There’s something more important than you in my life.” This keeps the challenge of winning the Avoidant’s heart in the center of the Love Addicts attention.
  1. Frightening the Love Addict with the effects of the addiction.

Enmeshment vs. Proper Bonding:

Proper Bonding:  Functional emotional connection from parent to child that is rooted in a MATURE, STABLE place, that nurtures and supports the child.

Enmeshment: The energy flow is extracted from the child to nourish the parent.  These enmeshed children get drained dry and used by Mom’s or Dad’s need for companionship, attention, and love. These children grow up to become Love Avoidants.

Emotional Sexual Abuse:

  • Enmeshment is a form of emotional sexual abuse.  Parents who draw their children into their relationship are usually too immature to be intimate with another adult; they find it too threatening and too painful.  But they realize they can be intimate w/their children because the children (1) are vulnerable, and (2) won’t abandon them, but must stay near them for survival.
  • The Avoidant had a parent whose relationship with him was more important than the relationship with their spouse.

In the Family:

  • Love Addicts: needless, wantless, quiet, good, isolated, and unconnected – not taking anything from the family.
  • Love Avoidants: similar to the Love Addicts, but went a step further.  As children they too did not take anything from the family; they also had to pull from their own resources to support or nurture the parent(s).

Love Avoidants:  Being a “Higher Power”, but being Engulfed:

  • Avoidants can grow up feeling very good about themselves in their role in the family of origin because they see that they must have been quite special to be taking care of one or both parents.  They learn that to be connected means they get to be the High Power to someone else, and yet it also means to be drained (engulfed).  Such children often come to believe they are better than others.

Can Love Avoidants be Love Addicts and Vise Versa:

  • Some people grow up in families in which they experienced enmeshment from one parent and abandonment from the other, or perhaps one parent enmeshed with them for a while, then abandoned them.  In the family of origin of people who were both enmeshed and abandoned, there was no appropriate emotional bonding.  Therefore they have the capacity to operate out of either set of characteristics, those of a Love Addict or a Love Avoidant
  • Such people usually alternate between being a Love Addict and Love Avoidant.  A Love Addict might be abandoned by an Avoidant, then say, “Well, nuts to this. I’m never going to get that hooked again.” So this person meets a very needy person and become the Love Avoidant in control.  When this doesn’t work, they switch back to the Love Addict role.
  • Sometimes couples can take turns being the Love Addict and the Love Avoidant, because they both may be sex addicts, work addicts, or alcoholics. When this happens it creates the most intense, crazy, often homicidal relationship of all.

Facing Love Addiction: Pia Mellody

Couples therapy and couples counseling with a licensed and experienced therapist like Suzanne Rucker will strengthen your relationship and help resolve the issues that are causing you to struggle.

Contact Couples Therapist Suzanne Rucker at 407-967-9313 or by email

Suzanne would like to help her clients find happiness in life.  Are you depressed or anxious wondering how you can get through the next day? Do you feel over-worked and under-appreciated?  Do you have a difficult maintaining your weight, managing your finances, coping with your own addiction or the addiction of someone else, or maybe you are having a hard time getting along with your spouse or a difficult teenager?  There is relief….The first step, which is the most difficult, is making the call to seek help and direction for a better life.

Suzanne Specializes In: Relationship Problems, Recovery & Strengthening, Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Management, Sexual Addiction/Love Addiction & Co-Dependency (women & men), Addictions (drugs, alcohol, shopping, etc),Trauma ,Personal/Sports/and Corporate Coaching. Clinical Training: CSAT : Suzanne is trained in sexual addictions from the prestigious IITAP institute and Patrick Carnes, EMDR (eye movement and desensitization and reprocessing):

Suzanne offers this processing technique for relief from traumas, anxiety, depression, addictions, fears, phobias, and test anxiety.  EMDR can also enhance sports and speaking/professional performances, Prepare/Enrich: Suzanne can help you learn how to build stronger relationships through communication and conflict resolution skill building.  This program is ideal for premarital counseling, marriage preparation, marriage counseling, and marriage enrichment, Suzanne earned her MS in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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