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Fear of Intimacy -  Relationship Phobia

". . . . I am going to be sharing how my fear of intimacy caused me to sabotage my latest romantic relationship which in turn led to me opening my heart in a Truly magnificent way.  In order to lay the groundwork to explain the great breakthrough I had in my personal growth process - which also turned into the single most excruciatingly emotionally painful experience of my recovery - I am this month going to share a summary of my relationship patterns which were driven by my fear of intimacy issues."

"I did not again in the next twenty years, make the mistake of getting involved with someone who was available enough to have the power to hurt me like that.  I pursued only unavailable women.  I always had someone unavailable that I was obsessing over, trying to figure out how to get her to see how wonderful we could be together.  (This was completely unconscious and something I only realized looking back at my patterns in recovery.)"

"It was my emotional incest issues that really dictated my emotionally intimate relationships.  Obsessing about someone who was unavailable, feeling betrayed by their inability to see our potential, feeling abandoned when they rebuffed me, was the less painful of the two extremes that my spectrum in relationship with romantic relationships involved.  The result which would have been more devastating - in my subconscious emotional perspective of the options available to me - was getting into a relationship with someone who was available and being revealed for the shameful, unlovable being that I felt I was."

On this page is an article by inner child healing pioneer / Spiritual Teacher / codependency therapist on his fear of emotional intimacy defenses.
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This ia an article that is part of a series of articles which were focused upon issues involving gender, sexuality, romantic relationships, and directly related topics.  This article Fear of Intimacy -  Relationship Phobia was originally published online May 31, 2004 on Robert's Inner Child / Codependency Recovery page on the Suite101.com Directory.  There is a list of - and links to - the other articles in this series on Suite 101 on the Suite101 Articles page.  The original article was used to create this page on Joy2MeU in June of 2005.

Fear of Intimacy -  Relationship Phobia

By Robert Burney

"Codependence is a disease which involves the being's emotional defense system being dysfunctional to the extent that it breaks our hearts and destroys our ability to Love and be Loved, wounds our souls by denying us access to our Spiritual Self, and scrambles our minds so thoroughly that it causes our minds to become our own worst enemies."

(All quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

As I mentioned in last months column, I am going to be sharing how my fear of intimacy caused me to sabotage my latest romantic relationship which in turn led to me opening my heart in a Truly magnificent way.  In order to lay the groundwork to explain the great breakthrough I had in my personal growth process - which also turned into the single most excruciatingly emotionally painful experience of my recovery - I am this month going to share a summary of my relationship patterns which were driven by my fear of intimacy issues.  The fundamental dynamics of both extremes of my issues - as well as the prominent themes - were recreated in the transformational relationship experience that began for me in December of 2003.

For most of my adult life, I effectively had a relationship phobia.  The extremes I learned in childhood were completely unavailable (my father) and completely enmeshed (my mother.)  In my first sexually and emotionally intimate relationship (not any true emotional intimacy because I was incapable of it then - more accurate would be to call it emotional attachment) I got completely enmeshed with a woman I met in college.  She was the one who really initiated me into being sexual.  We got engaged to be married.  I caught her in bed with my best friend - literally, caught them in bed.

I realized in retrospect in recovery, that she had almost certainly been the victim of incest from a young age - and was a sex addict.  The pain of that experience, was to say the least, incredible.  I was so much in denial of my feelings, and so codependent, that I stayed engaged to her for another year and a half.

I did not again in the next twenty years, make the mistake of getting involved with someone who was available enough to have the power to hurt me like that.  I pursued only unavailable women.  I always had someone unavailable that I was obsessing over, trying to figure out how to get her to see how wonderful we could be together.  (This was completely unconscious and something I only realized looking back at my patterns in recovery.)

The other extreme for me, was allowing myself to get physically involved with women I did not really want to be with, with women I did not feel a strong attraction / energetic connection to.  Then I would be the unavailable one.

It was actually less painful for me to be alone, obsessing about someone who was unavailable, then it was to be the unavailable one.  In those interactions, the evidence seemed to indicate that I was incapable of loving.  The other person would often accuse me of exactly that.  Being able to blame someone else for my feelings of abandonment and betrayal was less painful than blaming myself for being defective.  More bearable than the pain of that little boy who felt he had failed in his responsibility for his mother's feelings and well being.

It was my emotional incest issues that really dictated my emotionally intimate relationships.  Obsessing about someone who was unavailable, feeling betrayed by their inability to see our potential, feeling abandoned when they rebuffed me, was the less painful of the two extremes that my spectrum in relationship with romantic relationships involved.  The result which would have been more devastating - in my subconscious emotional perspective of the options available to me - was getting into a relationship with someone who was available and being revealed for the shameful, unlovable being that I felt I was.

I was terrified of being responsible for another persons feelings, for their happiness.  I had failed in my responsibility to my mother - and was certain (subconsciously) that I would fail again, because something was obviously wrong with me.   Any woman who felt available, was someone to run away from, or push away.  I was terrified of being smothered, of being engulfed, by a woman's emotional needs - and then being betrayed because of my defective being.  This is one of the effects of emotional incest.

The excruciating pain of finding my fiancé in bed with my best friend was the proof of, and felt like punishment for, that unworthiness.  It was only in recovery when dealing with my emotional incest issues, that I realized how my mother had betrayed me.  She always told me how wonderful I was, how special and gifted - she acted as if the world revolved around me.  But she never protected me, or herself, from my father.  My mother was my first love.  She was my Goddess.  The fact that she allowed my father to terrify and traumatize me - she who was perfect in the eyes of that little boy - obviously meant there was something wrong with me. 

I got in touch with the fact that my mother betrayed me early in recovery - but it was only a few years ago in processing about my fear of intimacy issues that I saw the connection between the two betrayals.  My fiancé's betrayal was just a repeat of my earliest experience of loving a woman.  Both situations involved betrayal by the primary woman in my life, and the primary man.  The excruciating pain I experienced as a young adult was only a fraction of the devastation felt by that little boy.  That poor little boy.  His first experience of love, the first loves of his life - his God and Goddess - punished him.  Terror of intimacy is a pretty appropriate response. 

In my latest relationship experience I went from the unavailable one to the one who was available because of my breakthrough.  Then the woman that I opened my heart to Loving became the unavailable because of her fear of intimacy and betrayal issues.  That caused her to react to her issues by getting involved with another man - which left me feeling abandoned and betrayed.  A wonderful opportunity for growth.

I will be talking about the lessons learned in this relationship experience, and the dynamics involved in coming months.

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Go to Codependent Defenses - Part 1 The Gatekeeper

For more articles on Romantic relationships, see the Relationship section.

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Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney is copyright 1995.  Material on Joy2MeU web site (except where otherwise noted) is copyright 1996 1996 thru 2013 by Robert Burney  PO Box 235401 Encinitas CA 92023.

Fear of Intimacy -  Relationship Phobia was originally published online on May 31, 2004 on my Inner Child / Codependency Recovery topic page on the Suite101.com Directory.