Do I Have An Unhealthy Love Life?

Reader, before you read this article, I want you to know something about myself. I do not believe that being in an adult love relationship is required or necessary in order to be a happy and healthy human being. Being an individual and on one’s own, enjoying the freedom, is a lifestyle that many people choose. Now, if you “fall in Love” and want to add a healthy intimate love relationship to your life to preserve and grow the Love you’re feeling, all well and good. Point is, it’s a choice not a requirement for healthy living. This article is for the people out there whose ability to take care of the Love they have fallen into is problematic.

I’ve been studying, treating and teaching about the unhealthy love life for more than 30 years. Over this period of time, I have observed three general categories of unhealthy love life. Each type of unhealthy love life is caused by the same problem: unhealthy relationship experiences that have gotten into a person’s love relationship psychology.  For example, if you are exposed to abandonment, abuse, neglect or dishonesty in family relationships growing up, these types of experiences will unconsciously teach a person to expect that the same type of unhealthy experience will continue in their adult love relationships.

In this article, I will talk about each type of unhealthy love life and provide examples to illustrate. The first type of unhealthy love life involves difficulty forming a healthy love relationship. Avoiding love relationships to avoid expected mistreatment, fears of control, or dishonesty are common examples of this difficulty. The natural innate ability to fall in Love is intact, but the “conditions” (being around people, open to attraction, receptive, etc.) necessary for it to happen are basically avoided whenever possible. No emotional vulnerability is the objective. Emotional isolation and a dedicated effort to stay defensive and “safe” is the rule for people struggling with allowing themselves to experience being in Love and forming a love relationship.

There are so many people in this first category of the unhealthy love life, it was truly shocking to become aware of it. An earlier article I wrote on this blog entitled, “Living Without Love In Your Life” helped me understand the experience of people in this category of unhealthy love life. The tragic part is the realization that what they’ve been taught to expect in a love relationship can be fixed, if only they were conscious of it’s possibility. A lifetime of loneliness, enduring fears of intimacy, and a secret unexpressed longing for intimate relation are too often the long-term consequence for people with this love life difficulty.

The second type of unhealthy love life is for people who have difficulty sustaining a healthy love relationship. People in this second category can form a love relationship. The problem is the gradual deterioration of the love relationship formed over time. Imagine if someone got married or made a commitment of Love under “false pretenses.” What that means in love life terms is, they entered the love relationship “presenting themselves” rather than “being themselves.” Their love partner married the “persona” being presented rather than witnessing and choosing the real person under the surface. Whether or not any of this kind of thing is consciously or unconsciously known is an open question for analysis. The point is, overtime, and how much time is unpredictable, the real self of who you are in a love relationship, you guessed it, “emerges.” The emergence can be shocking, to say the least.

What we are really talking about in category two, are individuals who are defensively protecting themselves, not by avoiding love relationships like in category one, but by jumping in and controlling how much is actually revealed about who and what they are. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the real self inevitably emerges. Divorce, or breakup for those in Love but not married, is the inevitable result of having difficulty sustaining a love relationship. By the way, some people do this over and over again. Blaming their partners’ inadequacies for the breakups. Indeed, never knowing about or fixing the real problem.

Now onto category three: people who have difficulty establishing a healthy “intimate” love relationship when they are committed to staying with someone for the long haul. The point here is that a love relationship is formed and is being sustained, only with very little or no real emotional intimacy. Again, if your love relationship experiences earlier in life taught you that people stay together but at a “distance” for example, chances are you’ll unconsciously recreate the same love life experience in your love life. We all know people who are together for good but appear to not like each other very much. The good news is, once we become aware of which experiences in life unconsciously taught us about the unhealthy love life and what we’ve learned from from those experiences that’s interfering with emotional intimacy in Love, we can fix it. All it takes is a commitment to work on the psychology of your adult love life.

Comments welcome. Tell me about your love life experience.

Dr. Thomas Jordan, clinical psychologist, author of Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life. Need help fixing your disappointing love life?   Confidential Love Life Consultations available by phone, inquire at or 212-875-0154.

Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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