When One or Both Partners are Highly Cognitive or Emotionally Avoidant. Accessing and deepening vulnerable emotions that are at first hidden, unspoken, unknown or masked by reactive and protective emotions is one of the most powerful skills of an emotionally focused couples therapist. Emotionally focused therapists facilitate emotionally moving enactments by guiding avoidant partners to turn to their partner and to share with them about their pain, sadness and fears.
Couples who appear warm and friendly can be deceptively difficult. They fear intensity, anger and deep involvement. We will focus on principles for managing sessions, core competencies required in the therapist, and what it takes to support each partner's development to enable more intimacy and sexuality.
Comparisons have been made between severe avoidant attachment and disorders of the self such as antisocial personality, schizoid personality, and narcissistic personality. Each of these disorders, including avoidant attachment, can be grouped together as one-person psychological organizations in that they operate outside of a truly interactive dyadic system, and primarily rely upon themselves for stimulation and calming via auto-regulation. The chronic need for “alone time” can take many surprising forms throughout the lifespan, directly impacting romantic relationships.
It is said that men are afraid of intimacy. Love-avoidant men don't know what intimacy is; what they fear is subjugation - being drained, used, entrapped. These men most often have histories of enmeshment with either one or both parents. That enmeshment can be positive (e.g. the caretaker} or negative (e.g. the scapegoat), but it always leaves the person with both shame and grandiosity.