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Emotionally Unavailable?


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I'm not very good with feelingsy things so I'll try and describe this as best I can. :)

I'm in a relationship with a guy (have been for 3 years). This certain problem keeps coming up. He wants me to be more affectionate - I mean in general, not just in the bedroom (that is a whole other problem.. lol). I was brought up in a family where touching (as in hugs etc) was a big nono and same with expressing emotions of any sort. I've never been a touchy feely person, nor am I able to express emotions except anger. However, he comes from a very healthy kind of background where talking about your emotions, hugging, and affection in general were an everyday thing. It's hard for me to comprehend but I have been to his family's house for christmas and I saw it with my own two eyes! Talk about a culture shock! :) I think it'd be a dream come true living in a family like that!

The thing is - I WANT to be like that. I would love it. But it's like I just can't bring myself to express any feelings of any sort. I'm in psychotherapy at the moment but it's a little frustrating because I'm supposed to lead the conversation and then the therapist explores the stuff that I've brought up. I've had severe depression for 13 years and at about 12 I turned my emotions off as a defence mechanism towards my father who was very, very controlling, emotionally abusive, dominating, etc. In the therapy, because I lead it apparently, it's like all you are doing is exploring your feelings. It's all well and good at the start but once you understand everything.. how do you start changes? Might be a good question to ask the therapist this week actually. Mentally noting that down now. :) Its hard because the therapist isn't supposed to give you advice or TELL you to do anything... so I feel like im in a bit of a limbo atm. I understand now, and that is great, but I have no idea what to do next. Understanding (or awareness as she puts it) does ease the pressure a bit but it doesn't bring on change. It doesn't make it easier to do any of this stuff, unfortunately.

So does anyone have any tips? That's the basic question I'm asking I guess. I'm starting to think that maybe I shouldn't be in a relationship right now but, at the same time, I'm still going to have the same problems in future relationships if I don't address it now. Running away from the problem probably won't fix anything. I just feel disgusting when I give hugs, put my arm around him, anything affectionate. The poor guy - I don't know why he is still around :D But he is worth fighting for. I just don't know how to turn this disgust of showing affection into something i can tolerate doing, let alone feel comfortable with. If I could just TOLERATE it without feeling disgusting, I would be happy with that. Also, we want to have kids one day and I'd like to raise them in a healthy way.. so I need to get myself fixed up first. I can't teach my kids something that I find disgusting lol.

So any tips are appreciated!

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Hi, Sardonyx,

While reading your first post, I was wondering what/how was the manner your parents used to treat you - and now I can see :eek:... Ufff!

Well, I don't have an advise for you, I'm sorry :(. I only know that you have to be very patient; the change you need is big, it will certainly take a long time, but - and it's great that you know it - it is worth fighting for!

I can give you the exemple of my experience, which is not "in the end" at all (I'm in therapy for 7 months now and we didn't discuss this issue almost at all, but I feel we have to do it sooner or later...), but... I think it's a bit optimistic. I don't have any problems with hugs and kissing, but I've had some with... - well, you problably know what I mean (funny - I even have a problem to write about it! Oh, gosh! :))... But it was getting better slowly during the years of our relationship (with the man who's now my husband) and now... it seems we have only "one, the final step in face of us". And all the amelioration was based only on patience and love, not on a therapy. (Now it seems that "the final step" will need some help from my therapist, but who knows, maybe not ;) ...) I know your problem is much harder, but the fact that you're in therapy and that you are so motivated gives you a big chance.

Your questions about "how to change" etc. remind me myself, my questions, a lot. But there is no "universal answer". I only can tell you: Talk about it with your therapist. Stay motivated and try to be patient. I hope it will help.

Edited by LaLa3
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I agree with Lala, it takes patience and perseverance, especially on the part of the partner ;)... My X was raised like you were, no touching and affection, it did not come naturally to him at all and even made him angry at first. Even after 15 years it was not easy to get close to him, but he did become more approachable, especially in bed (and I don't mean the sex part...). We could cuddle in bed, snuggle, but as soon as we got up and about he was no longer comfortable with affection beyond the occasional hand touching. So sometimes I would force a hug on him, spontaneously, and he would be as stiff as a board and would tap me gently in the back.... :-)

Perhaps you can find some times to practice, like snuggling up on the couch to watch TV or something, or holding hands when you take a walk. Like sensitizing yourself to body contact, gradually working yourself up to hugs perhaps... I'm sure every effort will make him happy and who knows, eventually you may even get more comfortable with it....:)

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My my, where to start?

After reading your post Sardonyx, I can tell you're pretty aware of your goals already, knowing exactly what to do only leaving you with the question of how to do it. That's great! As long as you got a clear light in the tunnel the road ahead will be just as Lala3 and Symora mentioned, craving perseverence and most of all, patience. But honestly I don't think that will be a problem for you, because as I've already read you want to spend every ounce of yourself to fight for this guy to be able to awaken your emotions once again. (Actually, it's quite admirable to be so devoted!) Keep that up, I'm sure you'll make it someday.

I also have a pretty fragile theory myself about this, considering the time you spent trying to shut off your emotions, it would take an equal amount of time to turn them back on again right? I err, sometimes think of it like that to have something to look forward to. I don't know if it helps though, maybe it was too personal. My bad in that case. ;)

But most of what I'll say has already been mentioned, but as usual I give myself the liberty to clarify and be utterly annoyingly repetative. =)

You're strong, you're devoted, and your motivation is right there! With patience and persistance, think like you would a child, something like "I don't ever want to give up, because if I do it'll all be over!" Or something, who knows, it might help along the way.

Looking back on what I write though, I see more ways to help myself rather than offer actual professional help to the person in question here. Sigh, my my.

You can do it Sardonyx, just show the world what you're meant to be and become it, don't let anything stop you two loverbirds. ^__^


Aspiring Youth, TM.

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Thanks for your responses guys. They make a lot of sense. :(

Especially the bit about how it took me a long time to turn these emotions off so they won't come back on overnight. That is a good point I hadn't considered. I will keep fighting for this - thanks guys for your support!! :)

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