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Partners Who Are Incapable of Feeling Love By Dr. Roberta Cone

Each person who enters your life has a unique lesson to teach you.


What if your partner is incapable of feeling love? Chances are they have a deep-seated fear that if they love you (or anyone), that will give you the power to hurt them, deprive them, and abandon them. What they are feeling and thinking is what causes extreme fears, not what you are saying or doing. To ease these fears, this person will strip you of self-confidence to make you weak so that you are afraid to leave the relationship. To calm fears of being abandoned they will make you a focus of their rage, panic, fears, and inevitably their hatred. These behaviors effectively sabotage the relationship. Your partner controls the relationship abandonment through abuse because they are terrified of your ability to leave them. The partner incapable of love sets up their own abandonment. The fear of rejection runs profoundly deep.

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Falling for someone incapable of love locks you into whatever false image the person is projecting. You fall in love with an illusion. During the honeymoon phase of the courtship, you see a person who seems to want and needs love. Once you commit, they begin to ignore your emotional needs and sometimes are unfaithful. Suddenly the partner starts to withdraw and provoke arguments. You wonder how your partner who seemed to love you could totally change toward you. The relationship becomes too close for comfort for the person incapable of love. You as a person are not seen as a separate self with needs and a distinct identity. This means you end up taking part in the relationship at the cost of not being yourself.


Why do you stay with someone incapable of loving you? Usually, something in your history has led you to this place and is what keeps you in a loveless relationship. Most of us really want to be loved, and often we are afraid of love without consciously knowing it. This is especially true if you have a history of over-functioning and avoid worrying about your personal goals and problems by focusing on others. This caretaking becomes a way of managing anxiety in relationships under stress. Developing a clear and authentic self means you can be pretty much be who you are. When you cannot leave an emotionally painful relationship, the tendency is to construct an explanation to make sense of your experience, “He just can’t deal with intimacy” or “She had a bad childhood.” The cost of not leaving may include chronic anger, resentments, feelings of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or even self-blame (i.e., “I am such a loser for not leaving”). When you sacrifice your well-being, you might also experience sexual problems, physical complaints, or compulsive behaviors. This leaves you angry at how badly you are being treated and with an overwhelming need to hold on to your relationship no matter how it hurts you.


Acknowledging that your partnership is destructive and deciding to leave is not easy. Often there is regret, unfulfilled dreams, and damaged self-esteem. You may feel leaving is wrong and a sign of failure, especially if children are involved. In truth, what is wrong is to accept cruelty, abuse, and unhappiness. The abuse is a deal-breaker. The relationship will be more painful in the long run than the temporary pain of leaving. If you don’t take responsibility for your life, you aren’t really living. Establishing a good relationship with yourself allows you to find love with others. If you are afraid to leave the relationship, please give yourself permission to ask for help.


Do you struggle with finding loving relationships, or do you know someone who does? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.

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