I DON'T see couples for relationship counselling, marriage counselling, or civil partnership therapy.
Please note, for relationship counselling, I ONLY see individuals privately (independently of their partner),
who want to work through their OWN, SPECIFIC concerns, issues in their relationship.
Trust, Intimacy, Love, Touch & Sex In The Relationship Or Marriage Counselling London
Trust, Vulnerability & Intimacy In The Relationship
The Healthy Side Of Shared Vulnerability, Tenderness & Fragility We can put up walls of protection, have rigid boundaries, to protect, hide our vulnerability, tenderness and these are necessary at times. Dissolving, dropping our protective defences when we need to, as we articulate who we are as a person may be challenging. We can't protect ourself from feeling vulnerable. Vulnerability and tenderness can be seen as primary emotions, experienced close to our soul and allowing ourself to be vulnerable - letting others, our partner know the parts of us that are difficult to share, can promote intimacy. How we express our vulnerability, show our vulnerability, softness through self - disclosure can enrich our relationship (especially when we own our shadow). Accepting our vulnerability and respecting vulnerability in others listening to what it might be saying may enrich us, connect us to ourself and with others. Some of us (especially those who are fiercely independent or prefer a caretaking role) may numb our vulnerability, or view it as emotionally risky, yet feeling it, showing, how we really feel experiencing our tenderness - sharing this, takes courage, because to be vulnerable is inevitable if we fully love. When we do, this helps us bond with others, grow as human beings, when we are willing to be emotionally open, honest with ourself and others, expressing our real nature. Trusting that we are enough, our innateness and vulnerability may be important, alongside utilising our healthy boundaries to protect us when we need. Our vulnerability connects us to our needs and asking for what we need may also be important. We may not only try to hide our basic dependency needs, vulnerability and softer feelings from others, but also from ourself (or only get them met through sexual connection). We may also secretly fear that revealing how we really feel will not be reciprocated, used against us, that we will be judged, criticised. (And if in a relationship, when both of us as a couple share our vulnerability it can take us down a royal road of deep intimacy, growth as a couple as we let our vulnerabilities touch each other and see what happens.) Being in touch with our vulnerability also empowers us without being like a victim. Certain vulnerabilities, uncertainties are common to us all and can often be revealed during a crisis, fear of rejection, abandonment, or feeling overwhelmed. This may challenge our personal boundaries. Being vulnerable and close to our human fragility, tenderness and gentleness, enables us to feel exactly what we feel in any moment without thinking about it, judging it. Sharing our vulnerability includes revealing things about ourself, maybe our brokenness, lostness, confusion, loneliness, pain and suffering, maybe our existential pain. In frank and uncensored ways, daring to exchange our thoughts and feelings that may leave us open to humiliation or judgement can help build meaningful connections with other human beings. The experience of our vulnerability, tenderness may also connect us to the innocence of our childhood and how our vulnerability was responded to in our very early years. We may overlook that vulnerability is part of our humanity - that our vulnerability informs we are alive and connects us with ourself and emotionally connect with others, including our partner, as part of our healthy dependency needs. When we share our vulnerability, it may also be a doorway to letting ourselves be seen, change, be creative and in touch with our sense of personal power. And when comfortable and secure with our vulnerability, we experience safe emotional engagement, find meaning, are close to our own truth and truthful in our relationship.
They've got a wall in ChinaPaul Simon
It's a thousand miles long
To keep out the foreigners
They made it strong
I've got a wall around me
You can't even see
It took a little time
To get to me
Confidently Embracing The Natural Strength Of Our Vulnerability Protecting ourself from being vulnerable (maybe being cynical or keeping people out by not giving or receiving), we may want to drop our impostor syndrome, let down our guard to connect with others through being vulnerable, showing our heart, being more emotionally bold, true to ourself - supporting ourself in vulnerable moment with self-compassion. As a balancing act, we may want to be a strong person, comfortable in accepting our vulnerability, tenderness, valuing our independence, interdependence and balancing both a capacity for emotional closeness and honest self-evaluation alongside our own confidence autonomy, individuation. Strongly vulnerable and in our own place of inner authority, we may want to be resilient, personally empowered, yet diplomatic, able to soften any hard edges, be tender in our adult self and also feel able to talk about any child-like emotions. This enables us to be in touch with our insecurities, sensitivities, yet feel anchored, centred, grounded, have flexible, adaptable boundaries. Being comfortably vulnerable does not discount our willpower and resolve, connection to our inner strength, personal will and ability to speak our truth about our fears. Embracing our strong vulnerability with confidence, as we drop our ego defences, fears of embarrassment or of being judged, can be our greatest asset. When we have the courage to openly communicate our thoughts and feelings, share our vulnerability (see also Emotional Engagement, Emotional Connection, Emotional Intimacy) this creates trust and authentic connection as we powerfully learn about ourselves. When we no longer hide our flaws, worries, fragility - even flaunting them at times, willing to share the messier part of our life, make genuine, meaningful, authentic connections, engagements with others, this shared vulnerability endears us to others. It can be counter-intuitive for some of us to show/share our vulnerability or any pain. And even being afraid at times, wanting, needing support is also what makes us connect, be human. Overcoming rejections, being open to the power of surrender, any tears, where letting go of certain things and lightening up, being playful, having fun can also support the strength of our vulnerability, help us create intimacy, deepening small talk, enabling us to feel closer to others by showing who we actually are instead of how we would like to be. And when we embrace certain insecurities, e.g. our dependency needs, we may feel more empowered. (Brene Brown reminds us that "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.")
When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable.Madeleine L'Engle
But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable.
Our History & Beliefs Around Being Vulnerable, Tender, Fragile Our past may have shaped our beliefs about vulnerability, tenderness, fragility:
- If we had some wounding experiences it may be understandable that we are reticent in showing our vulnerability now. When vulnerable in the past (perhaps hurt from previous relationships), we may have felt exposed, humiliated, wounded, building our defences around our wounds, and we may have not only hidden our vulnerability but also our self., "Why bother being vulnerable?" or "I don't want to be a burden" we may tell ourselves and some of us may have become very cynical.
- Some may believe that vulnerability (or sensitivity) is a weakness, that we are insecure or can somehow be intimate without showing our vulnerability
- Believing being vulnerable is a negative quality or unmanly, damaging, shameful, will render us insecure (which may be connected to our insecure attachment style). Therefore not wanting to show this part of us to others especially if we believe that showing our vulnerability means we can't be loved (yet usually the reverse is true).
- Some of us may mistake shyness for vulnerability.
- Believing we must hold onto our independence
We can choose whether or not we put up our barriers or whether they are necessary. When in touch with our vulnerability or tenderness we may keep our barriers up and:
- Believe we must remain independent
- Repress, suppress our own dependency needs
- Be secretive, hide our authenticity
- Worry we might be walked all over like a doormat
- Act like a martyr as if we can never be seen in our vulnerability
- Struggle to feel safe & secure in ourself or in our relationship
- Hide behind our narcissistic self
- Forget that to love is also to be vulnerable
- Have difficulties receiving, giving, sharing love
- Choose fear over love, fear love
- Fear any love we show will be unrequited
- Try to control others, outcomes
- Not recognise our own vulnerability, yet see this, project this onto others
- Be too proud to feel it, express it, believing we should be self-sufficient, struggling to ask for what we need
- Become lost or stuck, especially stuck in our head
- Numb our feelings, close off, shut down, bottle things up, put up rigid or barrier boundaries, emotionally abandon ourself
- Fear being exploited, rejected or abandoned, get hurt or that it is too painful, exposing
- Don't drop our ego when we need to
- Struggle to embrace ourselves with compassion & understanding for us & others
- Struggling with the art of surrendering when we need to
- Become stressed, fearful, anxious
- Keep ourselves busy
- Try to hide this through our perfectionism
- Become angry
- Avoid having a healthy sex life
To know the pain of too much tenderness.Kahlil Gibran
To be wounded by your own understanding of love.
Softness Softening our hard edges may be important for some and discerning the difference between softness, powerfully loving (see also Soft Living, Living A Soft Life Powerfully) and weakness (allowing others to control us, run over us) may be important. Some of us may believe that the softness of our eyes, smile, our kindness and caring, the tenderness of our touch the softness of our heart is weak yet it is weak if we allow others to control us and powerful when we are coming from our loving adult self, unafraid to be soft (see also Protecting Our Personal Power), be in touch with our peace of mind, express our love, stand in our truth - speak our truth. And when we soften, we may want to explore a softer way of living.
Why am I soft in the middlePaul Simon
Why am I soft in the middle, now?
Why am I soft in the middle?
The rest of my life is so hard.
Creating A Loving, Trusting Bond Being in touch with our desire and caring rather than fear, obligation and guilt, enables us to feel secure, trusting (see also Self-Trust, Putting Trust In Us). Qualities towards creating a trusting, loving bond (influenced by our early bonding patterns) may include loving the bits we don't love in our partner, willingness to drop our ego defences, be open, grow together and flourish, learn about ourselves, our values, be vulnerable, open-hearted, affectionate, wanting things with our heart and soul - being passionate about this, investing our time and energy, being emotionally truthful and honest, genuinely emotionally connected - showing up every day, consciously aware, present with our attention, intimate with a healthy, positive sexual life and able to listen, be patient. Couple check-ins can help facilitate this. Sometimes more important than the impact of words may be listening with our heart, the qualities of touch, eye contact, body language, love, intention. (See also Building, Rebuilding The Foundations Of The Relationship Or Marriage)
Intimacy - Deepening Our Relationship We are relational beings in need of physical, emotional closeness, intimacy - not just in romantic, intimate relationships, but also in family and platonic relationships. Intimacy is about making known the deepest innermost parts of ourselves and that includes being vulnerable, being receptive to deep connection to ourself and others (see also Patterns Of Communication In Relationships). Whether intimacy is on the level of trust, intimacy, communication, emotional connection, romance, sexuality or just being together, some of us may no longer feel the flame in our relationship and want to rush to end the relationship. Emotional connection with our partner begins with ourself and we may believe that if only someone would connect with us, love us, we will feel happy and complete inside, yet this can be a form of self-abandonment, avoiding our own feelings, making someone else responsible for our sense of worth, safety, wellbeing. Envy and jealousy may also affect our level of intimacy. One of us may find it hard to feel safe enough with our partner in the way we need. We may try to create intimacy with our partner without first connecting, being intimate with ourself, the roots of which may point to our attachment, relationship style and if we try to do this from our head, we may struggle without opening our heart to our own feelings, willing to learn what our feelings are telling us, being kind, compassionate to ourself. And when we are loving and caring to ourself, we are able to feel emotionally close, connect and bond with others from our heart rather than our head, enrich and deepen our relationship (This may also include having a healthy fight in the relationship). We may want to express to our partner who we really are, what we really need, risking our vulnerability and tenderness. If we are inauthentic or overly nice, polite, with an excellent, perfect manner, this may not create intimacy. (See also Intimacy Avoidance In Relationships)
Closeness & Intimacy In Our Relationships Our initial intimate relationship occurs from birth and how this is experienced influences our intimate experiences as an adult (see also Our First Relationship - Early Connections & Bonding Patterns). Some of us may enjoy the pleasures of closeness, intimacy, yet without commitment or passion our relationship our relationship may be based on liking rather than loving, missing consummate love. We may want to be both strong, yet vulnerable at times, be compassionately loving through intimacy and our consummate love. Some people may be successful in other areas of our life, relatively competent in our social skills, yet have a problem with closeness, intimacy, learning about and trusting our partner, being vulnerable, We may be used to closing off, shutting things down, bottling things up. We may not make the time or opportunity to talk to our partner about what is in our heart, letting them into our lives in more intimate ways. Deep down, we may want to embrace our relationship, communicate intimately, bridge the intimacy gap between us and our partner. Exploring what these gaps may be, rebuilding this intimacy bridge as a team together may help us. Being empathic, open and willing to learn about each other in kind and caring ways, may increase intimacy and when we are more intimate with each other, our interactions, dialogue can be more gratifying and we can feel more valued. Being close - yet remote, not risking the strength and qualities of our tenderness and vulnerability - may have been our response, which may also reduce sexual intimacy. Risking taking the long way home for a change may be challenging. Establishing and rebuilding trust in the relationship may be important.
The course of true love never did run smooth.William Shakespeare
Our Own Trust Issues Distrust may be our own issue. Concerns about trusting our partner may also bring us to look at our own home truths and trust issues - trusting ourselves, lack of trust. One of us may have our own trust issue - a personal struggle we have to put trust in ourselves and nothing to do with our partner. Some of our trust issues may go back to childhood traumas, wounds. We may have lost our innocence along the way, yet this doesn't mean we have to lose our love, trust. Passing the burden of this mistrust onto our partner, projecting it onto them without looking what's happening inside of us, may be counterproductive. We may be envious or jealous, struggling to trust our partner that they won't go off with someone else or leave us. We may worry that they or we may die. A part of us may have feelings of disgust, which stop us trusting. If we speak our truth, "Will they leave us?" we may ask, which can put us in a double-bind, as can believing we have to always please, which can actually inhibit intimacy. Making quality time together, being open, authentic and open to learning, consistent in how we relate with certain responses may be important to us and can help build integrity and trust in our relationship or marriage, yet at the same time it may be a challenge for us to choose to trust others and us, own or share our vulnerability, be all of who we are in our relationship, marriage, free to ask for our needs.
Trusting Our Partner, Trusting Ourselves Without putting trust in us and trust in the relationship, intimacy is difficult and we may be lonely inside. Trust - which is also something that is earned, supported by being truthful and emotionally honest, can be seen as serving the foundations of our relationship or marriage. In our relationship, marriage some may feel taken for granted, others have a sense of betrayal. Others may hold on to misplaced, old or unhelpful loyalties - either of which may prevent us being trusting, intimate. How these get built upon can be explored in the relationship counselling, marriage therapy. For some, trust can get eroded because of one specific event, though often it may be because negative feelings have gradually become absorbed by each other purveying the relationship, resulting in disappointments. Just because our partner made a mistake it does not have to mean that they no longer deserve our trust. We may struggle to forgive our partner for their mistakes. Someone close to us can deeply wound us and we may be tempted to avoid pain, which compounds our trust problem. Maybe caught in our painbody, or with a history of abuse, some of us may struggle to be and remain present, letting people in, receiving, initiating or giving love. Attuning with our partner, empathising with their point of view, can enhance closeness, intimacy. Showing a loving willingness to be there for our partner without negative comparisons with others, recovering any faulty communication, so negative interactions are no longer ignored, may also enhance trust. Trust is also a choice we make.
Trust & Intimacy In The Relationship, Marriage The intimacy we feel, avoid (may be by showing disinterest, being controlling in the relationship, having our own control issues or struggling to allow for what's unknown), may test our wounds. Our emotional connection as a couple, intimacy, trust and mistrust issues may go back to broken promises, struggles in trusting others or previous experiences of being let down, hurt, rejected or abandoned (and may have nothing to do with our partner), which can be explored in relationship counselling and marriage counselling. Struggling to unconditionally love ourselves, we may seek this in our partner, and become afraid when this isn't present. We may expect our partner to read our minds. Couple check-ins can help clarify things. We may further struggle to know or express our desires, use positive energy to express them and soothe ourselves when unmet. Maintaining our longing, choosing to trust that we can grow together, be open and willing to talk to our partner about what bothers us, asking for what we need, may be important, especially if we hold on to a belief that intimacy may diminish through being in a long term relationship. Our challenge may be to find the strength to risk trusting, loving ourself and our partner, promoting intimacy, where as we give our trust to another, believing they will behave well, have our best interest at heart, won't betray us.
When Trust Breaks Down In Our Relationship When trust is broken in our relationship (especially following our partner cheating on us) , we may love our partner, yet wonder how we can trust them again.
Rediscovering, Rebuilding Intimacy What works for some couples may not work for others. Risking our own insecurities, vulnerability, tenderness, identifying what we want from an intimate relationship, being open to each other, dropping our defensive ego, having heart to heart conversations, accepting differences, loving the bits we don't love, focusing on each other's good qualities, what we love about our partner, getting involved, participating in their lives - their interests, re-introducing fun, laughter, playfulness, not taking things so seriously and re-discovering, rebuilding what made our intimacy special can help reignite the intimate relationship. This may entail making and accepting requests for intimacy and time together in shared activities. The therapy can also consider any root causes in us, which stop us being intimate, alongside our options and choices. (See also Creating A Loving, Trusting Bond)
Intimacy Avoidance In Relationships
What Is Intimacy Counselling? Intimacy (into me you see) can be viewed as experiencing the open-hearted closeness, depth, of emotionally intimate connections, sharing our innermost experiences with others, feeling understood, known in the here and now. We may want to show and validate our tender loving emotions - express our love (see also Suffering & Love), create a deeper, emotional connection, emotional intimacy, which enhances trust and security in our relationship or marriage. The therapy can explore this and our relationship style further with us. Physical intimacy, e.g. touch, sexual intimacy is intrinsically linked to emotional intimacy. (See also Intimacy - Deepening Our Relationship)
Intimacy In Its Wider Sense Alongside intimacy with a partner, we may want to develop intimacy with the whole of our life, with others, with our self, with our body, to spirituality if this is our choice.
Avoiding Closeness, Intimacy, Fear Of Intimacy In Our Relationship We may want to make room for intimacy in our relationship, marriage, yet may fear losing our self - see also Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple. And struggling letting others in or lack of closeness, warmth, emotional connection and intimacy may be a concern for some. (Ironically both of us may have set this up as a couple in our pursuing and distancing roles.) Fearing loss, separation, abandonment, rejection, engulfment, being trapped by intimacy, we may be reluctant to trust, depend on our partner and often this has its roots in our early attachment patterns. Others may experience an "attachment anxiety", being close, attached - sharing our thoughts, desires and feelings, frequently seeking approval, affirmation, reassurance, recognition, validation, appreciation, praise, permission, confirmation, attention. Keeping something back, fear of intimacy may be concern and some of this may be related to past wounds, shame, guilt. We may believe if others see who we really are, they may not like us, or they may criticise, exploit, ridicule or humiliate us. (Ironically our worst critic may be us.) This may be connected to what happened in the past, when we were open, seen or vulnerable and fear showing this now. Avoiding intimacy we may become hard, aloof, cynical and closed as a way of keeping us safe from being taken advantage of, so we make us unapproachable. Our intimacy problems may increase over time, and the impact of this can be discussed in the relationship counselling and marriage therapy. In our fear of intimacy we may keep busy "doing" things, over-analysing things, mistaking intensity or sex for intimacy, or struggle to fully engage. We may also lead a high energy lifestyle to replace our intimacy needs. Backing up our fear of intimacy, we may sabotage, avoid, displace or divert our intimacy needs away from people, onto ideas, work, computer, the television, stimulants, possessions, or safe and familiar yet intimately unfulfilling territory or unwanted habits, addictions. Some of us may do anything to avoid romantic bonding, closeness, intimacy and set up situations, so the relationship or marriage breaks down or ends. Fear of intimacy (often connected to our early bonding patterns) may specifically manifest with:
- Unease or discomfort with open communication
- Difficulty discussing emotionally painful experiences, fear revealing deep feelings or talking about difficult, unpleasant personal experiences, feeling discomfort or unease when expressing emotional truth (see also Emotional Engagement, Emotional Connection, Emotional Intimacy)
- Difficulty in showing concern to our partner if they are distressed
- Discomfort or unease when expressing affection
- Difficulty or unease in asking for what we need
- Difficulty in trusting our partner with personal information & our strong vulnerability
- Fearing our partner may need us more than we need them
- Difficulty with our partner in being spontaneous
Intimacy Double Binds - Wanting Intimacy Yet Not Wanting it We may want to be seen, yet also not want to be seen, which may link up with being caught between fear of rejection and fear of engulfment. If we are lonely inside, struggle with our own emotions, it may be hard to be intimate and emotionally connected with our partner. A further double bind for some of us may be that we have sex without intimacy and have intimacy without sex. We may protect and isolate ourselves and struggling to let others in, we may fear close intimacy some of which may be linked to our repetition compulsion. Even if we want to be more intimate, it can be scary for some, as we find ways of closing the space down. We may want a different and deeper form of contact, yet at the same time fear intimacy, pushing people close to us away or deflecting from intimacy, shielding and preventing intimacy happening (see also Relationship Dances - Pushing & Pulling). Wanting yet fearing a successful intimate relationship, or believing we are not worthy of one (maybe fearing we would be "found out"), we can set up resistances or blocks and struggle to allow others close, become closed ourselves. Sometimes the closer we get to intimacy, the more we fear it (and what others will see or do), and this may be a reflection of what we have held on to in the past. If we perceive or experience one small rejection we may withdraw fearing intimacy. If we do get close, we may become worried that our own space and sense of who we are becomes eroded. The relationship counselling can also explore how we allow others to get close to us and how by expressing our desires, can lead to intimacy.
Maintaining intimacy as parents and making quality time together may be challenging. Attending to the needs of our children, we may have neglected, sacrificed our own intimacy needs along the way. Adjusting to our roles as mother and father can also divert us from being intimate as a couple. It may be important for both partners to value their own intimate relationship as a couple, share what we are feeling with each other, so we don't emotionally drift apart, that we creatively make space and time to put the intimacy & energy into our relationship. (See also Being A Parent, Mutual Parenting, Co-Parenting)
Responding To Our Fears Of Closeness, Intimacy Intimacy in the relationship, intimacy in the marriage may have dwindled. Our relationship may have become stuck, stale. So we can continue to avoid intimacy, keep a safe distance, sustain our fear of intimacy, and we may end up:
- Acting naively - as if don't know things, so we won't be threatened in order to get our way
- Being dismissive, downplaying the importance of intimacy, demonstrating "Nothing bothers me", compulsively self-reliant
- Showing we don't care about our partner so they can't hurt us
- Rejecting ourself before our partner rejects us
- Believing we deserve to get what we want without asking for it
- Giving our partner what they want, but leave nothing for us
- Deciding we no longer have any needs, now that our partner has needs or is needy
- Denying our own hurt, yet believing it's OK for us to hurt our partner
- Not wanting to hurt our partner, but believing it's OK for us to be hurt
- Giving up - believing it's pointless to expect anything from our partner, so we won't
- Totally surrendering - being what our partner wants us to be, as long as they don't leave us
- Turning to unwanted habits & addictions
- In a stuck, stale, neglectful, apathetic relationship
- Isolating us or the relationship (see below)
Isolating Us Or The Relationship The very rejection we fear we may have also created. We may make a vow not to be vulnerable, so we can avoid pain or face our fears. In doing so we may experience additional pain now for not fully living our lives, isolating ourselves. Learning to carry and let go of the pain of past hurts, betrayals and rejections, may be a challenge for some (see also Unhealed Wounds - Counselling London). Being grounded, secure, inhabiting our body, authentic and open, making real connection, nurturing intimacy, giving and receiving love, making it grow and making it grow may be important for us. These considerations alongside our intentions when we touch can be explored in the therapy. It may not be intimacy itself that is a stumbling block, but a fear that bad things may happen if intimacy becomes real. Concerns about our partner (or us) dying can stop us thriving in the relationship. Having an affectionate, sexual relationship may be a goal for others. Marriage psychotherapy and relationship counselling can help unpack the nature of our fears, that we may experience pain, get hurt, be rejected or abandoned, engulfed or controlled (see Our Sensitivities - Pushing Each Other's Buttons, Counselling London). The effects of squabbles, unspoken anger, envy and jealousy can affect intimacy, alongside the fantasies we have about being different, can also be considered in the therapy. We may struggle to accept, embrace true intimacy and let love in. Relationship counselling and marriage therapy may also allow for the other personal ways of protecting ourself without keeping our heart closed - being intimate with ourselves as well as others. Changing our behaviour may also be important. Relationships are dynamic, and we have options whether to move away from or towards connection. We may have a choice between intimacy or isolation (compounded if we turn away from intimacy and loving relationship towards pornography), whether or not we spend enough quality time together as a couple and want to be secure, comfortable with both intimacy and autonomy.
Relationship Counselling For Intimacy Issues Relationship counselling can be a space to express and overcome our worries, fears of intimacy, unpacking them, exploring our past relationships, early childhood experiences and think about how they have shaped us, the patterns we may have developed, unhelpful beliefs we may have held on to, so we can move towards having meaningful, intimate relationships, share our feelings, express our needs, desires, which lead to intimacy. The marriage counselling, relationship counselling can also explore how else we respond to situations of being controlled, not take the rejection personally, speak up for ourself so we don't feel engulfed.
Qualities Of Touch
Our Intentions Through Touch Touch, physical contact is healing, makes us feel human (see also Our Need for Love, Connection). (Some of us may be touch phobic - haphephobic and be seeking touch phobia counselling.) We are tactile beings and touch, physical connection is a profound communication - right from the beginnings of our life (touched into being) and we learn, connect through the energy of touch, part of nature. Without the unconditional, loving psychical, nurturing of touch - soothing, caring, that's warm, tender, comforting, we can feel deeply rejected abandoned, unloved, unlovable. When coming into the world, how we are touched, held through our early bonding patterns can affect how we experience, give, receive touch now (see also Source Of Our Relationship & Attachment Style). Some of us may have been touch-starved in early life and in early life. (If our parent was needy, engulfing or touched us inappropriately - to take love, rather than give it, or gave sexualised touch was physically, sexually abusive, this may affect how we are with touch now.) Our tactile, sensual bodies continue to thrive through loving touch, skin to skin contact. And it is skin to skin contact between the newborn and the caregiver - usually mother, that helps to lay the embodied foundation of secure attachment. As we experience, express love through touch, our intention behind our touch energetically affects both us and the receiver, our partner, e.g. who we touch that takes or gives (and how did our parents touch, which impacts on our own experience of touch now). If we hug our partner and our mind is elsewhere or with meaninglessness, emptiness (to fill ourself up) this hug will do little to foster intimacy, romance and deplete the connection, engagement between each other. Yet if we hug, hold, cuddle, caress, stroke, touch, kiss our partner filled with love, presence, warmth, tenderness, caring, sensuality and enjoy a healthy sex life this can sustain intimacy, romance, emotional connection (see also Accessing Our Feelings, Healthily Expressing Feelings, Fully Feeling Our Feelings - Allowing Our Emotions To Flow). The relationship counselling may also explore how we are tactile and touch others (not just our partner), physically, emotionally and can be touched with our senses, words, feelings, vulnerabilities, heart (and being in touch with ourselves emotionally, sensually, sexually, lovingly may also matter to us).
Healing Through Touch Learning to give and receive touch differently may be important to us. Yet if we are coming from a deficit of touch or our wounded self, or intent on taking away pain, then touch may not be healing. Yet when our energy is open, loving, tender and gentle towards ourself, the energy of touch through our heart can be healing. Some may want to connect with others who hold, hug, touch without sexual energy, or neediness - people who can love unconditionally. It could be a friend, partner, grandparent, etc. Massage therapy for some can also be healing. Not only physical touch, but also being emotionally touched may be important for us (see also Emotional Engagement, Emotional Connection, Emotional Intimacy).
Sexual Relationship, Sexual Marriage
Intimacy & Sex Intimacy, and often sexual intimacy, may well bring up anxiety in us (and some of this may relate to our early attachment, relationship style). Valuing each other as two whole people without sexual objectification (not from our wounds but from our love) may for some be a challenge. Some may believe that intimacy is only about sex, excluding human warmth, nourishment, being close to one another emotionally and physically, being intimate, connecting, giving and receiving, bearing our soul. We may have a fear of intimacy, manifesting in different ways. It may be important for us to make quality time (sometimes planning this) to get to know each other, including each other's bodies in intimate ways, sharing how we would like to be intimate, to be there for each other, together (see also Talking About, Sharing Our Sexual Feelings, Needs, Desires, Our Uncomfortable Areas With Our Partner). Intimacy can be threatening for some and we may prefer to turn to the convenience of habitual masturbation, pornography, and this may have become a habit, or have an affair, rather than be intimate with our partner.
Sex In Our Relationship Or Marriage The relationship may be intimate in many ways, yet sexual intimacy may be missing for us. We may fear sex (see also Influence Of Our Sexual Past, History, Culture, Social & Religious Background). The sexual relationship, sexual marriage may not be all we would like, yet regular loving sex, nurturing intimacy, offering reassurance that we are wanted, needed is the glue that maintains romance. We may want to explore ways of improving our sexual relationship, including how to be more open and honest with our partner about our sexuality, which can be discussed in the relationship therapy or marriage counselling. Desire and who makes any advances may be an issue. In the sexual relationship, sexual marriage one of us may tend to withdraw or withhold, affecting the other. Either us or our partner may not feel very sexual and there may be other psychological factors affecting our sexual relationship.
Trust, Intimacy, Love, Touch & Sex In The Relationship Or Marriage Counselling London Physical intimacy strengthens the bond between the partners. We may have questions relating to fear of intimacy, trust in the relationship, our sexual relationship, sexual marriage:
- How can I establish relationship trust?
- I am afraid of intimacy. I have what some people call intimacy issues. How else I can respond to my intimacy fear?
- How can I get back the intimacy in my relationship?
- How can my sexual relationship, sexual marriage flourish?
Safety In Our Relationship, Marriage
What Keeps Us Safe, Secure In Our Relationship, Marriage? We may be looking outside of ourself, to our partner, try to control them, get them to fix things for us, so they take responsibility for our internal sense of safety. Others may cautiously choose safety over love. Avoiding apathy, neglect we may want to explore what keeps us safe and secure in an alive relationship emotionally, physically, sexually, financially, etc. (see also In A High Maintenance Relationship). Issues of respect, dependability, familiarity, predictability, feeling reassured about the kind of future we want together (even if our visions don't exactly match) so we can respectfully talk about anything, without judgement, criticism, blame or control can support us feeling safe. How to make each other safe in the relationship, marriage, be the guardians of this, protect the relationship may be important. Certain things may scare us and we can struggle to drop our fears (see also Relationship Fears, Fears In Our Relationship, Marriage), choose to risk love. Different things and boundaries for different people make us feel safe in our relationship or marriage:
- Protecting our relationship from our defensive egos
- Being truthful & emotionally honest in our relationship - speaking, sharing our truth
- Acknowledging, embracing each other's differences
- Sharing each other's vision of the kind of relationship, marriage we really want
- Being there for each other, able to trust each other, be vulnerable in the safe space, sharing things without them being used against us
- Feeling emotional connection, physical connection
- Being congruent, honest, choosing to speak our truth
- Being in touch with & asking for what we need - speaking up for ourselves & letting others, our partner know what works best for us
- Being heard, seen, appreciated & met in the relationship or marriage
- Giving, receiving responses to each other's feelings, needs, views
- Doing what we say we are going to do
- How flirtatious we are with others
- Feeling sexually safe
- How conflict is managed
- Not losing ourself in the relationship
- To forgive & have an intent to learn
- Whether we & the relationship transforms, grows
- Having regular couple check-ins
Love Avoidance, Love Avoidant
Avoiding Love In Our Relationship Or Marriage (See also Insecure Attachment - Avoidant Style Of Attachment/Relating (Becomes Dismissing Style Of Relating As An Adult)) Some of us may fear love (see also Intimacy Avoidance In Relationships). In our relationship or marriage, we may start off being seen as strong, sexy, maybe charismatic, wanting a relationship. Yet end up putting up impenetrable walls - avoiding love, refusing to take the relationship beyond a certain safe level. It can be a lonely place to be for both parties (see also Emotional Dependence - Dance Between Emotionally Dismissive, Avoidant & Emotionally Dependent Partner). Some of these walls may even date back to childhood (see also Our First Relationship - Early Connections & Bonding Patterns). When we first met our partner, we may have come on strong (maybe love bombing them) or have taken on a caretaker role. We may have initially been swept away by our partner, and now that we are safe and secure with them, we may have backed off emotionally, sexually even sabotaging the relationship. Feeling safe in our relationship may be paramount to us. Our fear may have got the better of us, as we push our partner away when they become too close. We may now claim we are smothered, manipulated or drained and want to escape this. We may try to get our intensity away from our relationship, instead of within it. We may habitually be out with our friends, or become too busy at work or with our children - do anything to avoid making the love with our partner the priority. If attempts are made for closeness, we will not embrace this space, or choose distraction (see also When Our Partner (Or Potential Partner) Distances, Pulls Away). Struggling to acknowledge our own love or dependency needs, some of us may withdraw or withhold our love, what has been called being a love avoidant. We may be in a relationship or marriage with a partner, who is similar to us, or who is very emotionally dependent. Like a dance, if our partner needs us, we retreat and the more withdrawn we become, the needier they become. These roles can be switched (see Relationship Dances - Pushing & Pulling & Commitment Concerns, Commitment Anxiety, Commitment Phobia). Avoiding love and to be truly known, we may therefore avoid any commitment. Answering to no one, we fear being controlled, may consciously fear intimacy, being seen as vulnerable, dependent or needing anything from our partner yet unconsciously fear separation, abandonment, rejection. Our role in avoiding love, avoidant style of attachment, relating and how we respond to this, can be discussed in the relationship counselling or marriage counselling. (See also Stuckness, Staleness, Neglect & Apathy In The Relationship Counselling London)
Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns
Foundations of our bonding pattern are shaped by the building blocks in our early years.
Source Of Our Relationship & Attachment Style Attachment relates to how we seek closeness, intimacy with others - our family, friends, partner. We humans are relational beings requiring interaction, stimulation and contact with others. Attachment is not simply connection between two people, but a deep, primitive and meaningful reciprocal bond involving desire for regular contact with the other person and a sense of distress during separation (see also Getting Our Basic Dependency Needs Met In A Healthy, Loving Relationship). In our formative years we don't arrive in the world knowing how to talk, think, feel, be resilient, etc. We learn through our senses and sense-making how to experience these through the context of our very early relationships, intimacy from birth, empathic attunement, emotional experiences, the environment and culture around us where (usually the mother) is able to follow and respond the communication of the baby in a reciprocal relationship. And it is these relationships that structure our brain, desires and the way we embody ourself. Our attachment history shapes all our relationships including how we are tender, intimate, empathic, sexually fulfilled. We are more complex than can be captured by having just one fixed relationship style, attachment style (often carrying pockets of them all), yet there may be one predominant relationship style we resonate with, pointing at some level towards how we have become who we are and our own sense of truth. We all need love to reflect our essence through attachment bonds and healthy latching-on patterns in order to meet our nurturing needs, the origins of which are co-created with our primary "caregiver" - usually our mother, in early childhood (also influenced by how different families, cultures having different concepts of attachment, separation, bonding and autonomy). Usually by one year (prior to language) our primary attachment style is created - all pre-verbal and what we can't put into words in how we responded to, seen, met, heard, understood, mirrored back, we embody now (see also Our Painbody) by enacting our experience with others and our attachment patterns, adaptations (doing whatever is necessary to maintain connection whether or not for our own good) can carry on in our later life. Our different attachment patterns contain different patterns of knowing, thinking, feeling, remembering as well as relating, much of which is unconscious. Some of our early experiences and the innocence of our childhood may have got lost along the way, as may our so called intuition reverberating into our adult relationships and we can often experience our primary attachment style when under threat during times of stress (and sometimes when we lose or can't find something), conflict, grief, when we are hungry, irritable, angry, lonely, tired, lost or stuck, experience conflict or feel under threat, traumatised, feel shame, affecting our internal dialogue, responses, tendencies. Our attachment style (greatly influenced by skin to skin contact between the new-born and the primary caregiver - usually mother, that lays the foundation for embodied, secure attachment) is especially triggered through excitement, sexual contact, loss, separation (see also Healing Through Touch).
The way we were treated as small children is the way we treat ourselves the rest of our lives: with cruelty or with tenderness and protection. We often impose our most agonising suffering upon ourselves and, later, on our children.Alice Miller
Non-Responsiveness, Empathic Breaks & Frustrations In Our Early Life Early connections and emotional regulation in our life are essential for our development, giving us a capacity for regulating our emotions throughout our life. Sometimes we just didn't receive the nurturing, reassuring care, comfort, soothing we needed as a baby, infant and we may feel unformed both physically, emotionally. Our parents don't always have the ability to nurture us (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns). For various reasons our primary caregiver may have been unable to respond or be empathic to our needs in our early years. It is therefore understandable that if we haven't experienced this model in our early life, we too can struggle with empathy in relationships. As a baby if our frustrations were not moderated, contained by a relaxed, open, instinctive caregiver (who can tolerate their own frustration), this impedes our own development and capacity to manage our own frustrations in life including our anger. We can continue to internalise, or act out, our frustrations now. We may find it difficult to think, manage catastrophic and unbearable experiences. We may therefore struggle with self-regulation, self-reflection, bearing the unknown without catastrophising, awfulising, going to a place of impending doom. Others may have learnt to adapt in order to receive approval, love in our early years, that we couldn't be fully ourselves - accepted for all of who we are, maybe forsaking our intuition, gut feelings, real, authentic self even now. And this adaptation can lead now to physical symptoms, relationship issues, a sense of alienation, disconnection from self, unhelpful habits or addictions.
Your environment wasn't supportive, wasn't loving, did not respond to you ... The fundamental thing that happened, and the greatest calamity, is not that there was no love or support. The greater calamity, which is caused by the first calamity is that you lost the connection to your essence. That is much more important than whether your mother or father loved you or not.A.H.Almaas
We can also learn about our attachment style by becoming familiar with themes in our previous and current significant relationships through our responses to trust, intimacy, love and sex, including how we respond to conflict in our relationship. There can be pushing and pulling in our relationship, an emotional dance between an emotionally avoidant partner and emotionally dependent one. There are those of us who tend to have a secure style of attachment, where unconditional love was prevalent and others who tend to have a more insecure attachment style (linked to our wounded self), typified by minimising attachment relationships or compulsively seeking love, yet find it hard to let love in. Feelings of emotional insecurity may relate to insecure attachment styles which may include tendencies to be: ambivalent (anxious, preoccupied - maybe easily jealous), avoidant (dismissing) or disorganised. These attachment patterns and defining moments in our early life may not only shape how we relate (see also Relationship Choreography, How We Engage In Conversation With Good Faith - Styles Of Relating, Relating States), but also what we know, remember, think, sense and feel, alongside choosing our partner (including choosing unavailable people) and include any repetition compulsions.
Intimate attachments to other human beings are the hub around which a person's life revolves, not only when they are an infant or toddler, but throughout their adolescence and years of maturity as well and onto old age.John Bowlby
Our Relationship & Attachment Style Now Our attachment style is not fixed - it can be on a spectrum from secure to insecure and fluctuate between other attachment styles throughout our life in the same or different relationships. Our relationship can trigger so many things in us and how we were heard, seen, met, mirrored as a child in those early relational and emotional experiences, affecting our relationship, level of intimacy, empathy, sexual fulfillment now (see also Mirroring Back Our Partner's Experience). When we were young we formed a style of attachment behaviour (and protective ego patterns) in order to attain and maintain proximity to our primary "caregiver" to receive comfort and a sense of security and this becomes our style of relating in our intimate relationships now. Our parent's security, insecurity or trauma becomes unavoidably transmitted to the child. Stress and trauma in our early environment, when we didn't get our needs met, produced higher levels of cortisol (see also Physical Feelings, Somatic Reactions, Other Reactions), and this can get repeated now, when our needs are unmet, echoing back from time through these old triggers, hooks. As an infant, we adapted our behaviour and internal world to get our care needs met, feel safe, so the behaviour of us as a child was in response to the behaviour of the adults around us. From these roots in our initial upbringing, and early experiences of refuelling ourselves from our parents, we created our internal working model, silently affecting our emotional, intimate and sexual relationships now. We all have attachment needs, including secure emotional connection with others - to receive care, warmth, physical contact, understanding, validation and approval and how we go about this, get our basic dependency needs met in our relationship, share our thoughts, feelings and desires varies. Our attachment history can make us vulnerable to being triggered through our feelings, behaviour by certain people, where past experiences, threats feel like now, especially in our intimate relationships (see also Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple). The therapy relationship can help explore our own different relationship attachment styles, how we love and earlier role models for loving when we were young and how we can move away from attaching to others in unhealthy ways through connection with our own inner child, learning to love ourself, strengthen, creating our attachment bonds now, create new experiences which also creates new neural pathways in our brain. (See also The Need For Secure Emotional Connection - Healing From Our Early Attachment Wounds, Lack of Bonding)
Our issues only get triggered within our relationship - not when we're alone. The closer the relationship, the deeper the wounds become activated, providing us with opportunities to heal whet we need to heal, learn, love.
Our Intimate & Loving Relationships Now - Strengthening The Secure, Loving Lasting Attachment Bond Between Each Other The way we relate and respond to conflict in our relationship, the way we love, attach to others, care, be cared for and bond ourselves to our partner, be drawn to a supportive, loving partner, form lasting attachment bonds, is influenced by early latching on, connections and bonding patterns. And when we love, accept each other exactly as we are, this enables us to accept, love ourselves. And our attachment style now, formed through early attachment bonds, influences many areas including:
- The impact of our past affecting our relationships now
- How we soothe ourself
- What happens when we have a system for supporting ourself when we need to, through catching our fear and seeking care, having a supportive, helpful environment around us (internally and externally), exploring and sharing our interests with others
- How in touch of our needs we are & asking for what we need, speaking up for ourself, letting our partner know what works best for us
- Our individuation, levels of dependency
- The proximity between us and our partner
- How we are autonomous yet part of a couple, our relating states (see also Dependence, Independence, Interdependence, Codependence - Moving In & Out Of These States)
- The closeness and intimacy in our relationships, the safety, acceptance and love we feel
- How we create an intimate setting, being able to be vulnerable
- How we give, receive, share love
- Holding others and being held
- Our emotional connection, empathy
- Our romantic bonds, the affectionate, sexual and erotic relationship
- How well we communicate through safe, emotional engagement
- All our relationships
- How we want to evolve as a person
- Our vision, visualisation, envisioning the reality we wish to be true
The Quality Of Our Attachment Relationship Now Growing up we experience a range of developmental milestones, and if these were missing, they can impact on our relationship now. We may have allowed certain painful events, incidents, old traumas to destroy or confirm our assumptions about attachment relationships - when we bond with others including our feelings and needs around dependency, independency, interdependency, codependency. In distressful situations now and certain incidents, events when our partner fails to respond to our needs or we feel abandoned, betrayed, this may trigger a rigid relating state. One challenge may be to restore lost intimacy, trust, a safe haven and secure base. The therapy relationship can explore not only the impact of our early relational, emotional experiences but also our sense of coherence and inner continuity how by embracing new experiences this change our neural pathways alongside how any challenges in our relationship can be overcome (as can they also be seen as opportunities to connect), resolved, and how we can create a healing space in our relationship where we love, accept each other exactly as we are in order to experience a secure bond with our partner (without the familiar pushing and pulling or dance between being emotionally avoidant or emotionally dependent), so we are there for each other in difficult, challenging times as a source of security and comfort, where we are honest with ourself and others, where our bonds become deeper and stronger. In attachment relationships we may have a choice of authenticity or attachment, and some relationships may not survive, where others may only want our inauthentic self. As children we had no choice, yet now we can choose our freedom to be authentic. (See also The Need For Secure Emotional Connection - Healing From Our Early Attachment Wounds, Lack of Bonding)
Choosing Our Partner Right from the beginning, some of us may want to change our partner, which may point to our earlier need for our "caregiving" to be different. Two people with a secure attachment style tend to have a level of reciprocity between each other and this may be less true if one person has a secure attachment style with someone who doesn't. When two people with a dismissing relationship style get together, there may be a denial of need. And when two preoccupied people as a couple get together, there may be competing needs, much of which can seem impossible to put into words, yet get evoked in one another. When one person has a dismissing style and the other preoccupied, there can be both a complementary way of relating and polarisation (see also Relationship Dances - Pushing & Pulling). If we have insufficiently separated from our parents, unresolved attachment, bonding issues with our parents or "caregivers" may continue to affect our choice of partner and capacity for interdependence. It can be challenging, yet rewarding, for a couple to find helpful, supportive ways forward together, talk about what works, what doesn't, owning our own unresolved parts (see also Unconscious Communication In Relationship Or Marriage), find ways to no longer traumatise each other, be empathic and to heal each other through love as we develop secure emotional connection. The counselling and psychotherapy can explore the nature of our relationship style, ways of developing other styles (see also Potential To Heal Our Relationship Or Marriage - Considerations), which help us now. (See also Searching For Love, A Soulmate)
Therapy For Attachment Issues, Experiencing Secure, Internal Attachment It is understandable that we may find it hard to love ourself, others, self-soothe, self-regulate, cannot connect with others when we haven't come from a loving, secure, early environment. The therapeutic relationship can be a containing space, secure base to explore our own experiences of attachment, how we can learn through our relationship system and what happens to our desire to be securely attached. Mentalising (from attachment theory) can also support us. Over time therapy can be a platform to feel secure inside our self, so any deficits which affect us now can be reparative - as we bring these into consciousness, integrating our past and present. The therapy for attachment issues explores our relationship patterns, relating states and how we can allow for the possibilities of new experiences, secure attachments, so we can not only think about how these attachment experiences have shaped us, but also develop ways of becoming more secure in our relationships and develop relationships in the future and able to regulate our emotions, so our loving adult self becomes a secure base for our young parts, inner child. In vulnerable moments, we may need to support ourself with self-compassion, which is at the heart of the secure, internal attachment. The relationship counselling may also explore what attachments we are willing to let go of. (See also The Need For Secure Emotional Connection - Healing From Our Early Attachment Wounds, Lack of Bonding) The body and the brain have a natural ability to heal, and our brain is capable of visualising experiences of comfort, closeness, and acceptance that evoke similar somatic and emotional sensations associated with early secure attachment. Attachment issues therapy for some may therefore also include visualising, practising self-acceptance, closeness, bringing our self back home (re-owning all the aspects of us that may have been cut off), fully inhabiting our body, our self, being grounded, anchored, so we gain a sense of comfort, internal warmth and safety.
Addictive Element To Certain Attachment Styles Through our addictive behaviour some of us may have an attachment to love addiction, abusive relationships (be enmeshed, codependent), to food, alcohol, pornography, gaming, money, religion, perfectionism, etc. as if our addiction becomes our primary soother, that our attachment behaviour, seeks bonding, soothing, security through our addiction of choice. We may take comfort from the experience of our habit or addiction, enjoying the rituals we have associated with our addiction. It can be as if we make more sense of our self in relationship to the connections we make with our addiction yet have less sense of our self. We may struggle to feel anchored in our self, reliable, accessible without our addiction.
Our Internal Working Model Sometimes it can be as if we are living our life from an often unconscious script, with roles we take up in relationships. Our internal working model (a term used by John Bowlby, informed by how in our very early years we learn how the world functions by how we affect others and they us - which inform our expectations, behaviours now) may include our theories about the world, how we interpret and evaluate situations affecting our feelings, self-beliefs and believing in ourself. Having secure internal objects, updating our working model may be important so we can get our own dependency needs met, increase our flexibility about meeting others' dependency needs, be empathic. Utilising our abilities to mentalise may help us be in touch with and move from what was initially embedded in us, changing our stance towards previous experiences, which can also influence the nature of these experiences and future ones. We may want to explore mechanisms where change and transformation best happens for us, so we can have some measure of freedom from our past, be in contact with our emerging self with up to date perceptions of ourself and the world. The therapy may therefore explore our internal working model - our template of attachment style (see also Templates We May Have Created), which forms the way we relate with other attachment figures in our adult life, how we think, feel, react (see also Early Unconscious Agreements, Beliefs). The therapy may also look at ways that de-construct our patterns of attachment in the past, so we can build new ones in the present. This may also include any negative interactions, integrating aspects of our previous experiences, which we may have cut off from, so we are able to self-reflect and check the weighting we put on things. The counselling and psychotherapy may include exploring how we may feel more secure inside ourselves, are able to soothe ourselves and regulate our feelings, how we might find healthy security in others. The therapy helps facilitate ways we can gain new insight, liberating ourself from restricted attachment patterns (see also Potential To Heal Our Relationship Or Marriage - Considerations), exploring how we have become who we are, but also how we can change who we have become, integrating what we may have previously not remembered, disowned, cut off from - often picked up through our physical feelings carrying deeper emotions. (See also How We See The World)
Secure Style Of Attachment/Relating
(Becomes Autonomous Style Of Relating As An Adult)
The Parenting Style We May Have Received & Behaviour Affecting Our Early History Consistently responsive - we are likely to have experienced an empathic yet autonomous "caregiver" able to mentalise, who was present, reliable, attuned and responsive in a sensitive way, able to intuit and read our mind, think from our point of view, cope with our experiences, range of positive and negative emotions, able to manage separations, losses without over-dramatising them, support our autonomy and value us. These experiences enable us to have a legacy of feeling deserving of love. (See also Our First Relationship - Early Connections & Bonding Patterns)
Effects & Early Behaviour Coming from a secure base, our secure style of attachment allowed us the opportunity to learn to manage our feelings, explore, be resilient, become aware of others' thoughts, feelings.
Messages We Picked Up - Our Core Beliefs, Internal Working Model Of Ourself & "Caregiver" We are cherished, feel loved and worthy of love, care.
Subsequent beliefs, attitudes, sense & experience of self
- We have learnt that by & large the world is a safe place
- We are able to be secure in our own company & beingness & able to reach out to others when necessary
- We are able to take charge of our emotional security, feel centred, anchored, grounded
- Individuated, we have a sense of personal freedom
- We are able to learn from new experience & update the models of self & others
- We are able to reflect, feel, be aware of our physical sensations
- We are able to remain flexible in our thinking, even under stress
- We may have a balanced, coherent, realistic sense and positive view of ourself and others, without idealising, denigrating others
- We are able to regulate our feelings, think about them & soothe ourself be intimate yet separate
- We are able to have room for two, accessing a wide range of experiences in us & others
- We tend to hold a hopeful attitude in the world
Style Of Discourse - How We May Relate, Come Across To Others
- We are confident in giving care to others, being attached
- We may be able to draw on our attachment relationships with others, be co-operative, put things right between ourself & others
- We are able to co-operate in mutually close relationships, accept, receive, trust, reassurance, support, comfort, be both comfortably intimate & separate with our autonomy
- In the way we care for others, we show interest in their concerns, recognise their distress, correctly interpret this, respond appropriately and in watershed moments when others are distressed to provide comfort & communicate well, without attacking, withdrawing or seeing the other as our enemy
- We are able to send assertive, clear messages when reunited, self-disclose, access our distress in open and congruent ways, which elicit responsiveness, to be responsive, accessible, emotionally connect, be coherent with clear boundaries, open & direct, confident in asserting ourselves, asking for what we need, clear in signalling our concerns, have an expectation of helpful responses & are able to accept help, be comforted
- We are able to contain our reactive, negative emotions & access our marginalised emotions
- We are able to regulate our distress on separation from an attachment figure
- We hold positive expectations of a relationship in ways which are open, warm, loving, yet boundaried
Response To Conflict We are able to allow for & negotiate conflict.
Intimacy & Sexuality We are freer to integrate sex and sensuality into the whole of our mutual relationship, feel involved. (See also Healthy Sexuality)
The Therapy The counselling and psychotherapy supports our secure style of attachment and explores how we move out of states of dependence, codependence, independence, interdependence (see also Therapy For Attachment Issues, Experiencing Secure, Internal Attachment).
Ambivalent Or Resistant Style Of Attachment/Relating
(Becomes Preoccupied Style Of Relating Or Anxious Attachment Style As An Adult) - see also Holding, Responding To Ambivalence
The Parenting Style We May Have Received & Behaviour Affecting Our Early History We may have experienced unreliable, inconsistent responsiveness, "caregiving", which may have been unresponsive, maybe rejecting or neglecting, at times harsh, controlling, or intrusive. We are likely to have experienced a "caregiver" who was unpredictable and may have been preoccupied, yet also at other times responsive and available. Our "caregiver" may have prioritised their own needs above ours, who wasn't always sensitive to our separate needs especially around physical soothing. Our "caregiver" had their own separation anxiety concerns, so dependence may have been encouraged. Some may have felt used as if we became a "caregiver".
Effects & Early Behaviour We may have feared losing the relationship we have with our primary "caregiver", even though it may not have been satisfying. We may have struggled to explore around us or engage with the world with much confidence, become demanding of attention, clingy. We may have sought proximity with our "caregivers" yet didn't always find comfort. At school we may have felt anxious, been bullied. We may have become either tense, impulsive, fearful or helpless. If we were in touch with any shame we may blame ourselves.
Messages We Picked Up - Our Core Beliefs, Internal Working Model Of Ourself & "Caregiver"
- Others leave, we are likely to be abandoned and have to cling on
Subsequent beliefs, attitudes, sense & experience of self
- We may have lots of past painful stories and be stuck in our pain, hurt, chronic grief
- We tend to have less positive views about ourself, which only improves when in contact with our partner
- Fearing abandonment, rejection, we may believe that as long as we cling on tightly, we can be close
- We may struggle to concentrate on tasks
- It may be as if some of us search for a love that can never be quite found
Style Of Discourse - How We May Relate, Come Across To Others
- We may minimise our needs (see also Difficulties Being In Touch With & Asking For What We Need In A Relationship, How To Know, Name & Respect Our Needs - Speaking Up For Ourselves & Letting Others, Our Partner Know What Works Best For Us)
- Valuing our independence we may avoid relationships with commitment
- We may have blurred boundaries
- We may tend to feel uncomfortable without close relationship, tending to desire high levels of approval, responsiveness, intimate contact with others or crave closeness, intimacy (yet when offered, may turn away) - these affect our self-worth
- We may be conscious that we have become easily anxious (yet not always conscious of this) when attached to a partner may tend to passionately love full on, as if we are addicted to love, fall in & out of love quickly
- Fearing abandonment now we may try to cling to others
- We may become overly dependent upon others for self-esteem & support, enmeshed, constantly needing others to help to contain, regulate our feelings, as we struggle to control expressing our feelings
- Our relationships may be stormy (off one minute, on the next), where we are more likely to show our anger, which at times may be out of context
- We may come across as passive, fearful or angry
- We may blame our partner, become jealous
- We may not only be ambivalent, but also demanding
- When we are being or need to be caring, we may try to reverse the roles or become coercive
- We may be preoccupied with or by past attachment relationships, enlarging them
- We may be subtly aware of any changes in our relationship connections with others
- We may tend to tell long or painful unfinished stories, maybe with recrimination, with lots of detail, using entangled sentences, responding in long, winded ways, tend to use jargon, be vague, passive, may be incoherent at times
- We may use indirect methods to find ways we are loved (e.g. people pleasing)
- We may hold on to ambivalent feelings about our partner, relationships
Response To Conflict In our early life, conflict may have escalated, and conflict may easily continue to escalate now.
Intimacy & Sexuality We may be confused about sexuality, or have the intensity of sexual experience, yet not so much the pleasure. sensuality in our relationship, maybe segregating this from our relationship and need a lot of reassurance so preoccupied, that people abandon us. Jealousy may play a part in our relationship. We may find it hard to trust we are loved. (See also Trust, Intimacy, Love, Touch & Sex In The Relationship Or Marriage Counselling London)
The Therapy The counselling and psychotherapy may explore ways we can bring our anxiety levels down, find our own way through our fears, feel secure enough in ourself (see also Therapy For Attachment Issues, Experiencing Secure, Internal Attachment).
Avoidant Style Of Attachment/Relating
(Becomes Dismissing Style Of Relating As An Adult)
The Parenting Style We May Have Received & Behaviour Affecting Our Early History Our "caregiver" may have been a little distant, disengaged, where "caregiving" could be aloof, functional, withdrawing or distant and consistently unresponsive. We may have been ignored, criticised, rejected, neglected. (The depth of consistent unresponsiveness may be analogous to the depth of our defences.) And through experiencing consistent unresponsiveness, our cortisol levels may lower as we withdraw, experience a sense of deadness, lack of joy or playfulness. We may have leant to disengage from painful experiences, anxieties, denying, repressing, suppressing painful experiences in our life now. We may struggle to tolerate our negative feelings or need for closeness, to give, receive, share love. Promoting our early independence, we may have prematurely learnt to become a "caregiver" (see also Codependency (Co-Dependency) - Caretaking).
Effects & Early Behaviour We may avoid contact, have learnt to explore life alone, especially when distressed. If anxious as a child, we may have learnt to reign in our emotions, become self-sufficient, manage our own feelings by trying to stay in control of our circumstances. As a child, our energy may have been low and we may have shut down, losing our ability to explore, receive comfort. We may have performed well at school yet have few warm relationships. Inside we may have a sense of being unwanted, unlovable, projecting out our (often unconscious) anger towards our primary "caregiver" and onto others now.
Messages We Picked Up - Our Core Beliefs, Internal Working Model Of Ourself & "Caregiver" It's not OK to feel distressed, that we have to hide our real self. We may have believed that we needed to give ourselves up in order not to lose our parent's love, validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration, acceptance, and this may at some level continue in our adult relationships.
Subsequent beliefs, attitudes, sense & experience of self
- Our needs are unlikely to be met, so best to withdraw, not reach out
- We may fear exposure, intrusion, carry shame that we aren't acceptable to ourself, others
- We may believe we have to put things right only on our own. We may have made it important to not depend on others or have others depend on us, that we are able to deal with all things, yet struggle to sense & feel all our feelings. It may be hard for us to warm up, feel things.
- We may be harming ourself by being cynical, sarcastic self-critical, undermining our achievements, through self-depreciating humour, which puts us down, doesn't nourish us, struggling to let in anything positive
- We may believe that others are not like us, projecting unwanted qualities in us onto others
- We may minimise any strong feelings we have, over-controlling them, especially our own sadness, grief. (With loss, bereavement we may minimise its impact, avoid grieving, turn to unhealthy distractions, habits, addictions)
- We may believe that as long as we keep our distressed feelings hidden, that we can be close with others
- We become fearful (holding a negative view of ourself and a negative model of others) or become dismissing, distant, have a more angry or disdainful style, holding a positive view of us yet negative view of others.
- We may believe there is no one there for us, that we don't really need anyone
- We may ignore or avoid the impact of attachments in our life (e.g. talking about things without valuing our important bonds with others), downplaying the importance of close relationships, minimising our attachment experiences, having a compulsive self reliance
- We may have empathy, forgiveness for our parents, maybe idealise them, yet have little empathy, compassion for ourself
- We may struggle to be our own loving adult
- We may be fearful, tending to withdraw because we are afraid of rejection, abandonment & also fear engulfment
Style Of Discourse - How We May Relate, Come Across To Others
- We may have anxiety around feeling intruded upon, our vulnerability being seen, being exposed, criticised, judged, humiliated, shamed, controlled rendering us bewildered in relationship to ourself & others
- We may not fight for what we want & deny our needs, protecting our inner world, we may come across as polite, charming, yet evasive, wanting to be seen as strong, reliable, capable, avoid asking for what we need because it is shameful as also may feeling love, be shameful
- We may experience social anxiety
- We may be over-controlled in the way we express our feelings, avoid intimacy & conflict
- We may keep others at arm's length by being overly self-sufficient, perfectionist, evasive, yet experience rising anger
- Our relationships with others may be restrained, cold
- As part of our defences we may become grandiose, arrogant, lack empathy, have contempt for vulnerability, be hyper-vigilant to criticism (yet be self-critical), intrusion, dissociate. We may intellectualise, rationalise, minimise things using humour, become like a workaholic, maybe addicted to computer gaming (or use technology as a screen between ourself and others, avoiding emotionally informed language), have other unhealthy distractions, addictions or hoard things, finding ways to keep people out. We may experience social anxiety for fear of exposing ourself too much & may prefer animals or groups, causes, religious communities rather than people, avoid being present in intimate relationships.
- Subtly rigid inside, we may carry protective armour as a "keep out, don't get close" sign through being aloof, including our choice of work that enables us to think, act without feeling
- There may be a mismatch between what we say and what we experience, struggling to say much about our relationships or make sense of them
- We may be incoherent, tending to give generalised, vague, brief or intellectualised statements, providing contradictory information about our previous attachment experiences, minimising them, not saying much
- Our boundaries between our self and others may be very clear as if we don't have any bonds
- We may connect with others, often strangers, yet struggle to connect with attachment figures
- We may choose inappropriate or unavailable people
- We may try to keep our relationships casual, and if they are long term, keep them distant & restrained
- We may be overly critical, picky, just when the relationship could become more serious
- If we are in touch with any shame we may only see this in others, become blaming, critical
- We may blame our partner for doing the very things we are doing
- We may feel pulled when our partner wants our time & attention, going into resistance and not making time for our relationship, having one foot out the door. It may be as if we are in a dance with our partner between one of us being emotionally dependent & the other emotionally avoidant, pushing & pulling - when one of us pursues - the other distances
- When it comes to us being caring, we may be restrained, rejecting, cold, neglecting or go the other way by giving ourself up to please the other person & then feeling trapped in the relationship. We may resent our partner's needs or indeed encourage them to have needs, so we can become a compulsive "caregiver"
- Even after we've broken up, we may reach out to the other person, in the hope that they are there, available
- We may find it difficult to form close, lasting relationships & despite longing for closeness, often feel more secure when we hold others apart
- For those of us who tend to be fearfully avoidant, we may be more in touch with our emotions, yet self-critical. For others who may tend to be more dismissively avoidant, we may live as if only we count, maybe even contemptuous of others' emotions.
Response To Conflict We may avoid conflict, especially if distressed.
Intimacy & Sexuality We may have learnt not to be vulnerable or show our heart. "Don't get too close" may be our stand. A part of us may be longing, yearning for love, to share intimacy & emotional connection and if we connect with a person who stays, something inside of us may want to run off. We may pine for an old relationship, building it up better than our current one & better than it actually was. We may be so avoidant that we leave the relationship. We may tend to segregate sex and sensuality from the rest of our relationship. We may resist things, stop ourself having a full loving relationships. We may say & believe we want to be in a relationship, yet be afraid of being in one, fearing losing ourself, often fearing engulfment, commitment. We may believe that a relationship means we have to forsake our free will, free spirit. We may avoid attachment figures, become distancing, easily bored. We may want a relationship, struggling to find the "right one" and be comfortable with them. We may consistently tell ourselves that the problem is we just haven't found the right person. Others may choose very safe relationships, situations, which aren't new or potentially difficult. We may tell ourself that being in a relationship means that we are responsible for our partner's feelings, becoming anxious about this. In our romantic relationships we may have a pattern of being with unavailable others, long distance, or even virtual relationships. (See also Love Avoidance, Love Avoidant)
Defensive Strategies In The way We Relate Especially from those of us who tend to be dismissive, avoidant, we may want close relationships, yet need our open spaces. And whether it's in intimate relationships or friendships, we may have certain "keep-out" defensive strategies (see also Protective Patterns, Over-Defensiveness):
- Be hard-working
- Keeping very fit, maybe with tight muscles, as if an armour keeping others out
- Becoming like a control freak, that things should be perfect, which can render us unapproachable, unseen on the inside
- Being an observer in life, e.g. watching YouTube clips, photographing
- Being very formal, proper, decent, yet stiff, awkward, maybe robotic, around others
- Maybe a little pompous, entitled to privilege, wearing a uniform
- Becoming aggressive, maybe arrogant - "don't mess with me"
The Therapy The counselling and psychotherapy may include looking at how we may continue to be stuck in our head, be in denial, isolate ourselves from emotions, avoid feelings as a form of self-protection guarding us against further rejection, shame. Allowing closeness in others may be one goal. The therapy may, explore our own emotions, what we want to say, both ask for our needs, so we can feel more secure in ourself, yet accommodate others, be strongly vulnerable, open to the risks of loving and self-acceptance (see also Therapy For Attachment Issues, Experiencing Secure, Internal Attachment).
Insecure Attachment - Disorganised, Disorientated Style Of Attachment/Relating (Continues To Be Disorganised With Unresolved Issues As An Adult)
The Parenting Style We May Have Received & Behaviour Affecting Our Early History We may have experienced a "caregiver" who felt helpless, frightened, frightening or was abusive. They themselves may have been disturbed, overwhelmed, struggling to notice our own distress. We may have experienced a "caregiver", who may have been scared of our feelings as we became frightened of our "caregiver" who didn't offer us a secure base. In some situations neglect, abandonment and abuse may have been experienced and multiple carers may have been involved. We may experience ourself or others as more overwhelming than the other relationship styles and may live in a cluttered, disorganised, chaotic, or messy lifestyle now affecting our procrastination.
Effects & Early Behaviour When we needed to explore things, we may have experienced unregulated distress, become disorientated, dazed, startled or frozen, or disturbed. We may at times struggle with continuity of our thoughts and feelings, resulting in us becoming hyper-vigilant, and when under perceived threat maybe cutting off at times, as our flight, fight, freeze response is easily triggered. Viewing the world as threatening, hostile and disregarding, under almost constant fear (see also Impending Doom, Sense Of Dread) we may have found it hard to concentrate, maybe feeling anxious, helpless, unworthy of care, and later on turning to unhelpful habits or addictions including overworking, as our own behaviour may too become unpredictable, erratic. Some of us may be attached to abusive relationships. If we are in touch with our shame, we may oscillate between being provocative, rageful and submissive, apologetic. Frightened inside, it can be as if we have no solution.
Messages We Picked Up - Our Core Belief, Internal Working Model Of Ourself & "Caregiver" That our sense of ourself and others can be disorganised or chaotic at times.
Subsequent beliefs, attitudes, sense & experience of self We may struggle to find meaning, switching between positive and negative points of view, be irrational, maybe silent.
Style Of Discourse - How We May Relate, Come Across To Others
- Similar reactions to an avoidant style of attachment, as part of our coping strategies we may become grandiose, arrogant, lack empathy, have contempt for vulnerability, be hyper-vigilant to criticism, intrusion, dissociate
- We may be incoherent, disjointed, unfocused, confused & confusing, struggle with staying on topic & reasoning
- We may come across as organisationally high maintenance (see also How To Stop Procrastination - Abandoning Ourself Organisationally Disorganised, Being Messy, "Addicted To Clutter", Maybe Chaotic At Times)
- We may cut off our feelings or become coercive
- We may frequently be unpredictable, sabotage things, feel overwhelmed, switching from being very emotional to feeling numb, withdraw, become controlling or rageful.
- When it comes to caring, attachment, intimacy, we may become helpless, frightened or controlling
Response To Conflict We may avoid conflict at all cost or fuming inside become explosive.
Intimacy & Sexuality We may be fearful, clingy or both, struggle to connect with our emotions and partner. Others may be sexually high maintenance. (See also Sexuality & Trust, Intimacy, Love, Touch & Sex In The Relationship Or Marriage Counselling London)
The Therapy The counselling and psychotherapy can slowly work with integrating all of who we are (we may feel lost inside or have shut down our feelings, including grief), exploring ways of managing, regulating and soothing our feelings, ways in which we can feel more secure now (see also Linking Our Life Now To Our Past). On a practical level the therapy may also explore our attitude, what anchors us, give our life structure, focus, our intention, how we organise our life. (See also Therapy For Attachment Issues, Experiencing Secure, Internal Attachment).
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