What stops me from being able to love?

Dear Roseann

What stops me from being able to love?

I’m single and 35 years old and never have a problem finding
people to date.  The problem is that
after a few months all my relationships fall apart no matter how great they are
at the start.  My most recent
relationship ended after 3 months and it followed pretty much the same pattern
of every relationship I’ve had since college. 
We met through mutual friends, enjoyed getting to know each other and
then as things between us became more intimate I did the same thing I always
do—found fault and blew up about little things and looked for evidence that I
couldn’t trust and became distant and rejecting.  I think I want a committed relationship but
whenever things seem to be moving in that direction I behave in ways that push
the other person away.  I long for a
loving relationship but deep down I don’t think it’s possible for me.  My parents were both alcoholics and split up
when I was 7.  They continued to fight
with each other and create chaos in my life until I left home.  I wonder if growing up watching them fight
and destroy each other has ruined my chances of ever having a normal life with
a loving partner and family of my own.

Alex, West Loop

Dear Alex

Sounds like you’re yearning for a romantic relationship is
motivating you to figure out what’s getting in the way.  It also sounds like you’ve given some careful
thought to observing your problematic behavior patterns.  It is likely that what you experienced in
your family, watching your parents fight, has left you with some doubts and
limitations in your capacity to form and sustain romantic attachment.   As humans, our brains are wired for
connection but trauma rewires them for protection.  That’s why healthy relationships are
difficult for people what have been traumatized. 

Two books I’d recommend are:  Wired to Connect by Amy
Banks, MD and Loving Bravely by
Alexandra H. Solomon, PhD. 

Both books can help you understand yourself and guide you to
make changes that will enable you to be better able to give and receive love in
healthy relationships. 

Therapy can help you overcome the effects of childhood
trauma in 2 ways:  by talking through
your past and healing the relational wounds you sustained in your family and by
the experience of creating a healthy growth producing relationship with your
therapist.  A good therapy can actually
re-wire your brain to recover from the trauma so that fear won’t block your
desire for connection.  Your past doesn’t
have to stop you.  Find a therapist who
can help you learn to love bravely.  If
you’re ready to get started, give me a call.

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