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unable to love?


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i've mentioned this in a previous post, but i think it deserves its own thread.

i feel close to a person who claims that he does not, cannot, will not love me because he simply is not able. he says he only loves certain members of his family, plus his dog, and that it would take years for him to care for me. i could understand if he were not "in love" with me, but he can't even seem to admit to feelings of respect and friendship. he says he doesn't think about people, he doesn't miss them, and he would rather be alone. he can't stand to be touched. he hardly ever leaves his house, except for work and groceries, and refuses to be part of any social interaction. when we're together, it is only in his house, watching television.

maybe it doesn't make sense that i think we are close, because he has such obvious walls. still, somehow, i feel like there is something good between us. i can see that he does need me. my problem is that i wonder if this relationship is preventing me from becoming close to someone who is able to give back. when i think this way, i decide that it would be best to move on, even if i would miss him terribly. however, i often go back to thinking that everything would be okay if i could just control my feelings and continue the relationship in a way that is comfortable for him. i even go so far as to make myself believe that a hands-off type of relationship is better than a traditional one. that perhaps less physical passion can make it more sturdy somehow. i've even thought about having children with this person (artificial insemination of course), in lieu of a real family with someone that might actually love me.

i want to know if there really could be something wrong with him, and he can't help this. he's said that he thinks he might be a high functioning schizophrenic or autistic, but it seems to me that if he can see this, then he must not be afflicted with it. my belief is that something hurt him very much, and he is only trying to protect himself. that it is, really, a choice.

how do i deal with this without being hurt?

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There could very well be a physiological or clinical reason for your friend's chronic detachment from people (something like Schizoid Personality Disorder, perhaps), but it really sounds like you are asking for advice for yourself. Should you continue to spend time with this person? Should you keep loving him? Should you try to do something to provoke him out of his insulated state?

Of course, you can recommend that he seeks treatment, but it will ultimately be up to your friend to make the decision for himself (unless he is presently a danger to himself or other people). You, on the other hand, are free to make your own decisions about your own life--just because he is being frustratingly avoidant does not mean he is forcing you to pursue or 'save' him.

Only you can decide how much this person means to you, and how much your own feelings of self worth will be affected if you continue to pursue a one-way relationship with him. Do you think you might be pursuing someone who is unresponsive because it fulfills a need you have in your own life? I am currently learning in therapy that I pursue my therapist (who I know is unattainable) because the unrequited love fills something inside of me where I am scared I would be empty otherwise. I am wondering if maybe you might be able to relate to that?

In the end, the decision is less about your friend's worth or value or dignity, and more about yours. If you decide to move in a different direction, your friend will pursue the relationship with you if he feels it is important. He will also pursue treatment if he feels it is important. If he is happy (or not too dissatisfied) with the way he is, he may only have a 'problem' according to other people's definitions, but not his own.

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