8 Key Ways We Derail Love

By Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT

Although we seek love, we may unwittingly damage or derail it. Surprisingly, our fear of not being loved, which includes fear of abandonment, loneliness, and rejection, can lead to eight common behaviors that sabotage love and relationships.

When we lack self-love, although we may have relationships, generally they’re unfulfilling or don’t last.  We won’t find real love if we don’t believe we’re lovable. How this unconscious belief affects us is explained in “The Startling Reason We Sabotage Love.”

This article focuses on behavior that sabotages love. For example, we’ll find fault with intimate partners who love us or we’ll attract someone unavailable or who doesn’t show us love. We allow people to treat us as we treat ourselves. We might even tolerate abuse, believing we can’t do better or because we’re afraid of being abandoned or alone. Here are common ways in which our fears and insecurities derail love.


Most relationships deteriorate because of conflict. Conflict usually stems from feeling undervalued or rejected in some way. Our needs aren’t being met, nor communicated effectively.  Healthy communication is the bedrock of fulfilling relationships. Dysfunctional communication leads to conflict or shuts down communication altogether. Researcher John Gottman identified four predictors of divorce: Criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. Partners are either silently resentful or complain or attack in ways that make their partner feel criticized. In either case, both feel hurt and unloved, yet want to be loved and not abandoned. When we feel vulnerable, we usually attack or withdraw, thereby triggering each other in endless, painful cycles of conflict. Often our reactions are caused or intensified by events long ago, when emotional abandonment by a parent would have felt life-threatening. (These dynamics are explained on Conquering Shame and Codependency.)

“We want love,

but sabotage it, because

we fear not having it.”

Dysfunctional communication

Dysfunctional communication is a relationship killer. It derives from feeling insecure about ourselves and our acceptability. We won’t express our needs and feelings, but instead harbor hidden expectations and resentments. We blame and complain, manipulate, or are defensive and don’t take responsibility for our behavior and mistakes. Due to fear of rejection, rather than be vulnerable and openly admit our errors and hurt or ask for what we want and need (including boundaries), we withdraw or attack or expect their partner to read our mind. We can’t collaborate causing further resentment, and problems go unresolved. Stockpiled hurts and the lack of assertiveness can diminish sexual satisfaction.


Whether or not warranted, jealousy stems from fear of abandonment and feeling not enough―shame. Jealous accusations and suspicion hurt an innocent partner, ruining a relationship.


Trust is essential to fulfilling relationships. It takes time to build, but is easily destroyed. Partners sabotage love when they don’t consider the damage of deception. They hide information they fear will lead to judgment and abandonment. Once trust is damaged, it is difficult to rebuild.

Choosing the wrong person

Instead of finding a suitable partner, we may be drawn to someone who needs us or is a “diamond in the rough.” Then we try to change the person into a partner we want. Because we feel inadequate, fear commitment or fear of being abandoned or alone, we attach to someone who is emotionally unavailable, or who is dependent, needs us, and who we know won’t leave.  An addict is an example. These codependent relationships fuel resentment and disappointment. They’re doomed from the outset. If we stay because we’re afraid to be alone or start over again, or we expect our partner to change, we block the possibility of finding love.


Inauthenticity leads to boredom and deadness. Eventually, the excitement of romance fades. Real intimacy and true love don’t develop when we’re afraid to be vulnerable (because we fear rejection). Walls slowly build, and the relationship becomes cold, conflictual, or superficial. Partners blame each other for the loss of closeness and aliveness that drew first them together.

Distancing behavior

Even if we claim to not want a relationship, most of us still want closeness and love. Underneath we’re afraid of being judged, controlled, or abandoned. Perhaps we’ve suffered many losses. By not getting too close, we ensure that we won’t get too invested and be hurt or abandoned. We may sabotage a relationship by having more than one partner at a time, by cheating, or by ending it before we’re rejected. We might push love away by fault finding or withdrawing emotionally. Narcissists do this. They want love, but destroy it by belittling their partner. As a result, they lose interest, get bored, and look for a fresh narcissistic supply of excitement and admiration.

Pursuing behavior

When we’re uncomfortable being alone and desperate for love, it’s because we don’t love and nurture ourselves enough. We can’t tolerate our discomfort. Our unconscious belief is, “I’m lovable if I’m loved.” As pursuers, we need steady proof that we’re loved and are easily prone to anxiety that we’re not. Our anxiety about abandonment is usually conscious. However, our behavior can actually push our partner further away, creating our worst fear.

Our hope, impatience, and excitement can easily camouflage our desperation. It can induce us to mistake limerance and romance for love and ignore our intuition and red flags. We may find people who confirm our negative fears and beliefs – who don’t or can’t love us. We may also be drawn to unavailable partners, whose fear of intimacy may initially be concealed in their pursuit of pleasure. Consciously, we miss and yearn for closeness, but secretly we fear it. We can get stuck in a dance that perpetuates a cycle abandonment, which we may come to both fear and expect.

The solution is to become familiar with and embrace our wounds and our deepest fears and yearnings. The path to wholeness and self-love is not easy or pain free. We need support to get there – the emotional support we missed in our childhood. But as we look within, we gain peace, self-respect, and find the divinity that is our birthright. Watch for my next article on cultivating love.

Raise your Self-Esteem and change your attachment style. Improve your communication by learning to be assertive (ebook and webinar).

© 2019 Darlene Lancer

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You


10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

“I’m Not Perfect – I’m Only Human” – How to Beat Perfectionism

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Self-Love Meditation

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How To Create a More Amicable, Low-Conflict Divorce!

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

Anyone going through divorce knows it inevitably stirs up charged emotions — some anticipated and others unexpected. And when children are involved, the process is exponentially more complex and challenging. One of the biggest battlegrounds revolve around child custody and child support. Even if you’re fighting about the children, it’s never their fault.

Fortunately, there are ways to get through it together. Marriages that end amicably are the healthiest for both the parents and the children.

Dealing with highly charged emotions

Betrayal, guilt, anger and shame can rear their ugly heads in a divorce, These feelings come with much pain and should never be ignored or taken lightly.

However, your children are always innocent. They should never bear the weight of problems that you and your spouse created or experienced. Encouraging a malicious relationship with the other parent, speaking poorly of your ex in the presence of your kids and constantly battling them is never in their best interest.

As a parent, your role is not to win a popularity contest with your kids. But it is your responsibility to role model positive behavior and encourage a healthy relationship with both parents. You do this because children do best when both parents are able to love and support them.

Easing the process in and out of court

Courts always consider the relationships that the parents have, not only with the child but with each other. Agreement on parenting styles and each parent’s ability to communicate willingly with each other will ease the process. Parental cooperation paves the way for greater flexibility. The presiding judge may be more inclined to allow parents more freedom in deciding voluntary payment of child custody as well as visitation rights.

Maintaining civility after your divorce will not only elevate the emotional level of the entire family. It will also prevent future lawsuits, modifications, unnecessary time in court and costly court/attorney fees. Encouraging trust and respect in a relationship with your former spouse will prevent confusion and chaos when life challenges occur. Accidents, sickness, job difficulties may create co-parenting challenges. One parent may need extra time with a child or time away from the child, extra money when financial burdens arise, scheduling changes to meet unexpected work demands.

It can take enormous skill to bite your tongue or sidestep revisiting lost battles. However, it’s worth it in the long run. Avoid the blame game. It may require extraordinary effort, but it too will be beneficial, especially for the kids. Yes, stand up for your rights and what you are entitled to. But also do your best to make the process as amicable as possible. Your children will thank you when they are grown adults.

3 divorce resources that support a better divorce outcome:

CHILD-CENTERED DIVORCE NETWORK: Divorce and co-parenting coaching services, ebooks and e-courses on coparenting success strategies, anger management program, relevant articles and blog posts. https://www.childcentereddivorce.com

AMICABLE DIVORCE NETWORK: A network of experienced divorce professionals committed to guiding you through a low conflict and efficient divorce process. https://www.amicabledivorcenetwork.com


It can take enormous skill to bite your tongue or sidestep revisiting lost battles but it’s worth it in the long run. Avoiding the blame game may require extraordinary effort as well, but it too will be beneficial, especially for the kids. Yes, stand up for your rights and what you are entitled to, but do your best to make the process as amicable as possible. Your children will thank you when they are grown adults.

*** *** ***

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of How Do I Tell the Kids About The Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide To Preparing Your Children — With Love! To learn more about her coaching services, e-courses and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting, plus her FREE ebook on co-parenting success strategies, visit: https://www.childcentereddivorce.com

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12 Tips to Self-Love and Compassion

By Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT

The idea of self-love and self-nurturing baffles most people, especially codependents, who by and large, received inadequate parenting. The word “nurture” comes from the Latin nutritus, meaning to suckle and nourish. It also means to protect and foster growth. For young children, this usually falls to the mother, however, the father’s role is equally important. Both parents need to nurture children. Healthy parenting helps the grown child be his or her own best mother and father. A child must not only feel loved, but also that he or she is understood and valued as a separate, unique individual by both parents, who each want a relationship with him or her. Although we have many needs, I’m focusing on nurturing our emotional needs.

Emotional Needs

In addition to physical nourishment, including gentle touch, care, and food, emotional nurturing consists of meeting a child’s emotional needs. These include:

· Love

· Play

· Respect

· Encouragement

· Understanding

· Acceptance

· Empathy

· Comfort

· Reliability

· Guidance

The Importance of Empathy

A child’s thoughts and feelings must be taken seriously and listened to with respect and understanding. One way of communicating this is by mirroring or reflecting back what he or she is saying expressing. “You’re angry that it’s time to stop playing now.” Instead of judgment, “You shouldn’t be jealous of Cindy’s new friend,” a child needs acceptance and empathic understanding, such as: “I know you’re hurt and feel left out by Cindy and her friend.” Empathy is a deeper than intellectual understanding. It’s identification at an emotional level with what the child feels and needs. Of course, it’s equally important that a parent appropriately meet those needs, including giving comfort in moments of distress.

Accurate empathy is important for children to feel understood and accepted. Otherwise, they may feel alone, abandoned, and not loved for who they are, but for only what their parents want to see. Many parents unwittingly harm their children by denying, ignoring, or shaming their child’s needs, actions, and expressions of thoughts or feelings. Simply saying, “How could you do that,” may be felt as shaming or humiliating. Responding to a child’s tears with laughter, or “That’s nothing to cry about,” or “You shouldn’t be (or ‘Don’t be’) sad,” are forms of denying and shaming a child’s natural feelings. Even parents who have sympathetic intentions may be preoccupied or misunderstand and misattune to their child. With enough repetitions, a child learns to deny and dishonor natural feelings and needs and to believe that he or she is unloved or inadequate.

Good parents are also reliable and protective. They keep promises and commitments, provide nourishing food and medical and dental care. They protect their child from anyone who threatens or harms him or her.


Once grown, you still have these emotional needs. Self-love means meeting them. In fact, it’s each person’s responsibility to be his or her own parent and meet these emotional needs, irrespective of whether you’re in a relationship. Of course, there are times you need support, touch, understanding, and encouragement from others. However, the more you practice self-nurturing, the better your relationships will be.

All of the things a good mother does, you have the superior capacity to do, for who knows better than you what are your deepest feelings and needs, if only you’d look. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Identify your feelings. If this is difficult, pay attention to your inner dialogue. Notice your thoughts. Do they express worry, judgment, despair, resentment, envy, hurt, or wishing. Notice your moods. Are you irritable, anxious, or blue? Try to name the specific feeling. (“Upset” isn’t a specific feeling.) Do this several times a day to increase your feeling recognition. You can find lists of hundreds of feelings online. See p. 145 of Codependency for Dummies.

2. Honor your feelings. When you have uncomfortable feelings, put your hand on your chest, and say aloud, “You’re (or I’m) ____.” (e.g., angry, sad, afraid, lonely). This signifies acceptance of your feelings.

3. Uncover the cause. Think and/or write about the cause or what triggered your feeling.

4. Meet your needs. Once you discover the cause, think about what you need that will make you feel better. Meeting your needs is good self-parenting.

5. Express your feelings. Journaling about your feelings has been show to alleviate depression and increases your self-knowledge. If you’re anxious, practice yoga or martial arts, meditation, or simple breathing exercises. Slowing your breath slows your brain and calms your nervous system. Exhale 10 times making a hissing (“sss”) sound with your tongue behind your teeth. When you’re angry, do something active to release your emotions.

6. Giving yourself comfort. Write a supportive letter to yourself, expressing what an ideal parent would say. Have a warm drink. Studies show this actually elevates your mood. Swaddle your body in a blanket or sheet like a baby. This is soothing and comforting to your body.

7. Find pleasure, e.g., read or watch comedy, look at beauty, walk in nature, sing or dance, create something, or stroke your skin. Pleasure releases chemicals in the brain that counterbalance pain, stress, and negative emotions. Discover what pleasures you. (To read more about the neuroscience of pleasure, read my article, “The Healing Power of Eros”.)

8. Play. Adults also need to play. This means doing something purposeless that fully engages you and is enjoyable for its own sake. The more active the better, i.e., play with your dog vs. walking him, sing or collect seashells vs. watching television. Play brings you into the pleasure of the moment. Doing something creative is a great way to play, but be cautious not to judge yourself. Remember the goal is enjoyment–not the finished product.

9. Coach yourself. Practice complimenting and encouraging yourself – especially when you don’t think you’re doing enough. Notice self-judgment for what it is, and be a positive coach. Remind yourself of what you have done and allow yourself time to rest and rejuvenate.

10. Forgive yourself. Good parents don’t punish children for mistakes or constantly remind them, and they don’t punish willful wrongs repeatedly. Instead, learn from mistakes and make amends when necessary. If this is difficult, do the exercises in Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness.

11. Keep commitments. Honor commitments to yourself as you would anyone else. When you don’t, you’re in effect abandoning yourself. How would you feel if your parent repeatedly broke promises to you? Love yourself by demonstrating that you’re important enough to keep commitments to yourself. 12. Listen to my Self-Love Meditation regularly. It will give you words of kindness and acceptance to say to yourself.

A Word of Caution

Beware of self-judgment. Remember that feelings aren’t rational. Whatever you feel is okay, and it’s okay if you don’t know why you feel the way you do. What is important is acceptance of your feelings and the positive actions you take to nurture yourself. Many people think, “I shouldn’t be angry (sad, afraid, depressed, etc.). This may reflect judgment they received as a child. Often it’s this unconscious self-judgment that is the cause of irritability and depression. Learn how to combat self-criticism in my ebook, 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, and/or webinar How to Raise Your Self-Esteem.

©Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT 2013

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You


10 Steps to Self-Esteem and webinar How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

“I’m Not Perfect – I’m Only Human” – How to Beat Perfectionism

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

Self-Love Meditation

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram


10 Ways Technology Can Negatively Impact Your Relationships

By Terry Gaspard, LICSW

As technology plays an increasingly integral role in our lives, the paradox at the heart of constantly “being connected” is becoming clearer every day. Indeed, with the rise of smart phones and the proliferation of social media, we’re simultaneously discovering new ways to meet people and stay in touch, while also being physically distant from our loved ones.

There is recent evidence that advances in technology such as instant messaging, text, and social media threaten to strip away important aspects of the way couples and family members relate and connect with one another. Consumers globally have strong emotional ties to the internet and spend a significant amount of time using it in their daily lives.

Although technology has enhanced our society in a multitude of ways, it’s made it more challenging for all family members to communicate effectively. Most couples report that they have to compete with their kid’s iPhone, iPad, or iPod. No matter what the device, parents, couples, and children simply don’t have adequate face to face communication when they’re high users of technology.

If you regularly spend time fostering positive communication and talking or sharing an activity, you’ll be much happier in your relationships than if you don’t. It’s wise to pay close attention to how technology can bring knowledge but can also create emotional distance when it plays too large a role in your free time or communication.

10 ways technology can negatively impact your relationships:

  • Meal times. Reputable studies recommend that family members stay unplugged from technology at key times and allow plenty of time to connect – especially during meals – if they want to maintain loving, respectful, and nurturing relationships.
  • Intimacy: Sometimes the ways couples use technology can stir conflict and disagreements. A 2014 Pew Study showed that one in four cell phone owners found their romantic partner distracted by their phone. This study found that nearly 1 in 10 of these cell phone users had argued with a partner about excessive use and that many arguments had to do with cell use.
  • Communication: It takes time to turn towards your partner (rather than turning away) and couples who spend excessive time on technology have less time to talk and listen to each other. According to John Gottman, responding to your partner’s bids for attention fosters healthy communication and can help couples create a dialogue that addresses issues as they come up – rather than burying emotions and having them turn into resentment and hostility.
  • Distraction: With so many things at our fingertips and with instant satisfaction a click, call or chat away, couples are experiencing the inevitable consequence of this newly created expectation of immediacy. Ironically, despite the ease with which we can “connect,” we’re generally less present and in tune with our partners. According to a 2015 poll of 453 people across the US, nearly half reported being distracted by their phones in the presence of their romantic partner.
  • Time Spent with Children: In 2019, David Schramm, a Utah State University Assistant Professor reported that 6 out of 10 adults expressed concern about the influence technology has on their relationship with their children. They also didn’t know where to turn for information about this problem.
  • Addiction: Online addiction is common among Smartphone users. It’s not uncommon to see a couple or family in a restaurant that are glued to their phones. Signs of cell phone addiction include checking your phone in social situations and times when you shouldn’t (such when you are driving). Another sign is feeling compelled to use your phone when you’re bored or restless.
  • Mental Health: Heavy use of technology has been shown to negatively impact mental health. According to a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, “heavy use of social media has also been shown to negatively affect mental health.” The researchers “examined depression rates in younger adults, [and found] significantly increased odds of depression among those spending the most time engaged in social media.”
  • Social Interaction: In fact, Smartphone use lessons enjoyment of face-to-face interaction. According to a 2018 study published in The Journal of Social Psychology, when people have access to Smartphones, they experience less pleasure in real world social interactions.
  • Texting Can Lead to Couples Feeling Disconnected: A 2013 study by Brigham Young University examined 276 young adults in committed relationships, and discovered that couples who communicate constantly through text messages report lower relationship quality. In fact, the women in the study who received apologies or tried to work out their differences with their partners via texts reported higher levels of unhappiness. For men in the BYU study, too frequent texting was associated with lower relationship quality.
  • Technology Use in Bed is Associated with Less Sexual Intimacy: In the study mentioned above, David Schramm, a Utah State University Assistant Professor found that nearly 25 percent of the participants in his study reported that their partner’s use of technology in bed interfered with their sexual relationship.

What is the Solution?

Many experts, report that a good first step to reversing the negative impact of technology on your relationships is unplugging at mealtimes. It may not be possible to do this for every meal, but try to turn off the TV and put away your cell phone during mealtimes. Your emails and Facebook feed can wait.

4 creative ways to limit the use of technology in your home:

  1. Turn off your phone! Or better yet put them away for at least one hour each evening. It’s also a good idea to have a “Tech Free Zone” in the most important areas of your home, such as the dining room, where family members silence or put away their phones and devices. Be sure to talk though hard stuff face-to-face and reserve texts for quick check-ins or scheduling issues.
  2. Socialize while you are cooking: All family members can take turns setting the table, doing dishes, cleaning their own plates, and enjoying chatting during meals.
  3. Spend two to three hours together on weekends as a couple and/or family unplugged. Go outside or go somewhere fun. Try a low-key activity such as playing a game of checkers, chess, or cards. What you do together is less important than connecting as a couple and with friends and family members.
  4. Turn off technology one hour prior to bedtime when possible. Younger family members might have more difficulty with this but can adapt over time by reading and/or listening to music.

Studies show that when people power down from electronic devises, the quality of their conversation and ability to actively listen and support one another goes up, they exercise more, and they’re more tuned into their surroundings. However, high use of the internet is associated with less intimacy and sexual activity, poor communication and mental health; and being less sociable.

Undeniably, while our devices can help us stay in touch more easily, they also create barriers to true intimacy that wouldn’t exist without technology. The consequences for relationships are becoming abundantly clear, and it requires awareness and effort to safeguard them from the difficulties caused by the digital age.

Find Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship. Her new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True in 2020.


How Mistrust Can Destroy a Marriage and What to Do About It

By Terry Gaspard

Trust and intimacy form the foundation of a lasting marriage. When couples bring baggage such as infidelity or trauma from the past, it can set the stage for mistrust.

That’s why it’s crucial that you allow yourself to be vulnerable and discuss breaches of trust when they occur. If you can listen to your partner’s side of the story and give him or her the benefit of the doubt, you’re on your way to facing daily challenges with assurance.

One of the hardest things about extending trust to your partner is learning to have confidence in your own judgment. Trust is about much more than believing your partner has betrayed you. It’s about believing that your spouse has your best interests at heart.

For instance, Brianna, 46, finds her marriage to Kevin, 50, challenging because they’re raising four children and it’s difficult to squeeze in alone time as a couple. As a result, the secure connection they once had has been evaporating and Brianna often finds herself questioning Kevin’s feelings for her. In fact, Brianna wonders if he’s starting to have a roving eye because she’s put on twenty pounds in the past year and that’s causing her to feel insecure.

Over the last several months, Kevin has grown weary of Brianna’s constant badgering. After all, he feels he’s earned her trust by being there for her in so many ways, such as caring for their children and paying bills. He is eager to move forward and feels that Brianna lives in the past.

Kevin puts it like this: “I was unfaithful to Brianna with my former girlfriend when we were dating but I ended it quickly and haven’t strayed since. My feelings toward Brianna haven’t changed but she’s pushing me away with her questions and constant lack of faith in me. I just want her to relax and realize that I’m not going anywhere.”

Unpack the Baggage from Your Past

Take a moment to consider this: your partner is not solely responsible for creating mistrustful feelings. In most cases, you must take equal responsibility for creating an atmosphere of safety and security in your relationship. Dealing with baggage from your past is part of this. In order to begin the process of overcoming mistrust ask yourself:

  • Does my fear and abandonment cloud my perspective and cause me to overreact to my partner’s actions?
  • Do I feel comfortable asking for what I need and allowing myself to be vulnerable?
  • Do I bring my best self to my interactions with my partner?
  • Do I possess self-love and allow myself to be loved and respected?

 Are Mistrustful Feelings Based on the Past or the Present?

Karen, in her mid-forties, is an architect whose first marriage ended due to infidelity.  She married her husband Brian on the rebound after a brief courtship. Karen often reacts with fear and suspicion when he returns home late from work or there’s the slightest imperfection in his story.

Karen has a tendency to catastrophize when she says to Brian, “You’re always putting work first and you don’t care about me.” In the past, Brian reacted negatively to these accusations, but he has learned to reassure Karen and now calls her if he’s going to be late and puts special time with her on his calendar.

Through being reliable and reassuring her, Brian is working on showing Karen by his words and actions that he is there for her. He’s deeply committed to her and doesn’t have a history of betrayal in prior relationships. Likewise, Karen must learn to examine her thought processes. Is her self-doubt and mistrust grounded in reality or a fragment of her past? She must be willing to let go of self-defeating thoughts – to free herself from the blueprints of her previous marriage.

Karen reflects: “It’s taken me a couple of years to realize that Brian is nothing like my ex who betrayed me. He’s committed to me and wants to be with me. If I need reassurance, I tell him and he gives me a kiss and tells me it’s going to work out.”

Trust is an Essential Element of Intimacy in Marriage

 Trust is much more than a feeling. It is an acquired ability. You can learn to trust your instincts and your judgment when you honestly face your fears. If you are able to come to a place of self-awareness and understand the decisions that that led up to trust being severed, you can start to approach others with faith and optimism.

Do you sometimes feel that love is easily broken and fear that it will disappear despite everything you do? Mistrust is often a lingering feeling in the back of your mind that your partner does not truly love you, or might abandon you. So much about trust is walking the talk. Your spouse may tell you that he or she loves you, but did their actions support that? If you experience mistrust, all isn’t lost. Truth be told, you can begin to repair it with your partner step by step by considering the following strategies.

Here are 6 smart ways to repair broken trust:

  • Challenge mistrustful thoughts. Ask yourself: is my lack of trust due to my partner’s actions or my own issues, or both? Be aware of ghosts from your past that may be triggering mistrust in the present.
  • Trust your intuition and instincts. Have confidence in your own perceptions and pay attention to red flags. Ask yourself: does my partner have my best interests at heart?
  • Gain awareness about how your reactions may be having a destructive impact on your relationship and take responsibility for them.
  • If your partner lets you down, do not always assume that a failure in competence is intentional – sometimes people simply make a mistake.
  • Accept your partner and realize that we all have flaws. If he or she makes a mistake (like forgetting it call you) it may simply mean that they are human and perhaps a little forgetful.
  • Listen to your partner’s side of the story. Make sure your words and tone of voice are consistent with your goal of rebuilding trust.

A relationship that isn’t built on a bedrock of trust will not endure because feelings of mistrust can erode love and intimacy over time. Couples who share a vision for their marriage that includes building trust, intimacy, and profound love can withstand difficulties together. Trusting your partner will allow you to create a solid partnership and to be resilient when facing the inevitable challenges of daily life.

Find Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship. Her new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True in 2020.


Opposites Attract But Can They Stay Together?

By Terry Gaspard, LICSW

From the time I started dating at age sixteen, I’ve often found myself attracted to my polar opposite – for better and for worse. Likewise, I’ve counseled many couples who are drawn to their opposite because of strong chemistry but find day to day married life a struggle due to conflicting interests and needs.

What do we know about a couples staying power if they are opposites? Recent research suggests that it depends on what characteristics you are examining. Actually, some differences spark interest and the happiest couples become more similar over time. In fact, many of the couples surveyed by Dr. Karl A. Pillemer actually grew to enjoy a lot of the same interests through the years even if that wasn’t the case early on in their relationship.

In ‘Opposites Attract’ Or Birds Of A Feather,’ Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D. explains that while opposites often have an intense attraction, these matches don’t always last. Pillemer’s landmark study is worth your consideration. It’s comprised of over 500 people married over 40 years. He writes, “The research findings are quite clear: marriages that are homogenous in terms of economic background, religion, and closeness in age are the most stable and tend to be happier. Sharing core values has also been found to promote marital stability and happiness.”

In my opinion, the take away from Pillemer’s research is to be aware of the risk factors of dating someone who appears to be your opposite. It’s a good idea to recognize that if you marry someone with drastically different values, you will face complex issues that could put you more at risk for divorce.

According to many experts, another crucial aspect of long-lasting love is chemistry. I adapted this list from Mira Kirshenbaum’s book “Is He Mr. Right?” One of the central premises of her groundbreaking book is that chemistry is the best way to figure out if someone is right for you. Surprisingly, she’s not just talking about sexual chemistry but also the feeling that you enjoy being around your partner and have fun together.

5 Dimensions of Chemistry according to Mira Kirshenbaum:

  1. You feel comfortable with each other and it’s easy to get close.In other words, you feel that you can be yourself.
    2. You feel safe in the relationship. This means that your partner doesn’t have significant mental health issues, can take care of himself/herself; and you feel free to express your thoughts, feelings, and desires openly without fear of rejection. That you can be honest and it’s okay.
    3. It’s fun to be together. Kirshenbaum writes, “Couples who do have this dimension of chemistry going for them have a shortcut to intimacy and a buffer against the stressful times we all face.”
    4. You have real affection and passion for each other. This is where sexual chemistry comes in and it should go hand and hand with affection.
    5. You feel there’s real mutual respect. You accept, admire, and respect each other for who you are. According to Kirshenbaum, if you don’t have respect for your partner, it will eat away at chemistry until you have nothing left.

That being said, it’s important to have both chemistry and compatibility. This means common values and life goals, whether you feel comfortable with each other, have fun together, share common experiences, and pretty much “get” each other. Compatibility is essential for a relationship to last.

But what about couples that share core values and life goals but simply have polar opposite personalities and interests? My advice is to weather the storms and use your differences to add spark to your relationship. In other words, if you’re outgoing and high energy, marry someone who understands that even if they’re quiet and a homebody – as long as you share the same vision for your relationship. Dr Pillemer notes that some differences can spice up a relationship. In other words, as long as you accept each other, share core values, and maintain mutual respect., your differences don’t have to tear you apart.

Here are tips to help you deal with differences between you and your partner:

• Don’t give up the things you love to do such as hobbies or interests. This will only breed resentment.
• Support one another’s passions. Accept that you won’t always share the same interests. Respect your partner’s need for space if they want to go on a vacation without you, etc.
• Repair from conflicts skillfully. Experiencing conflict is inevitable and couples who strive to avoid it are at the risk of developing stagnant relationships. Learning to listen to each other, compromise, and give each other the benefit of the doubt will help you to bounce back after a dispute. Take a short break if your argument becomes heated, and remember what drew you to you your partner to begin with.
• Couples counseling can be a beneficial way to improve communication if both partners are motivated.
• Avoid the “blame game.” The next time you feel upset at your partner, check out what’s going on inside yourself and pause and reflect before you place the blame on them. Take responsibility for what you bring to the discussion or dispute and remember that we all have flaws.

If you want your relationship to endure the test of time, don’t take love for granted and adopt a mindset that differences can spark passion. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own happiness but working together with a partner who is willing to grow is twice the fun!

Follow Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.

Terry’s new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True on February 18, 2020.


6 Ways to Make Small Gestures Count in Your Marriage

By Terry Gaspard, LICSW

If you think you need grand gestures to show your spouse love you may be mistaken. In fact, many studies speak to the fact that the secret to long-lasting love are small gestures such as cooking your partner a meal or cleaning up afterwards without him or her asking you to do so.

One of the things that Alana values about Tim is his ability to show love through his actions.

Alana puts it like this: “It’s the everyday moments that matter. When I forget to bring in the mail (even when I am the first-person home) and Tim says he’s glad to go fetch it and water all of the outdoor plants before dinner, he makes my day. These little things make a difference.”

Tim responds: “Just because Alana works at home, it doesn’t mean she’s responsible for all things home related or all of our kid’s activities. There are never enough hours in the day but I am grateful that Alana works at home and can take care of sick kids, laundry, and start dinner most days.

 Alana speaks: “Tim honors my time and values me. This is a remarriage for both of us and we want to do it right the second time around. Since we have three kids, we make sure we go out for a quiet dinner or long walk alone at least once a week. I also go out with my friends at least once a month.”

 6 Ways to make small gestures count in your marriage:

  •  Look for ways to lower each other’s stress: Problems at work, financial pressures, or family drama can all push a couple apart. Couples who can respond to each other’s stress in a way that is soothing rather than in a way that exacerbates it tend to be able to weather the tenser times. Offer to give your partner a back rub or make them a cup of tea. Dr. John Gottman suggests that you have a 20 minutes stress-relieving conversation in the evening when you don’t try to solve problems but take turns listening and offering support.
  • Spend 5-10 minutes doing things to show love and kindness to your partner. Examine the schedules of family members and determine whether there is a reliable time that you can spend time alone with your partner. It may require altering work schedules to the extent that it is possible. Focus on each other, offer physical affection and really listen to each other. Often even devoting five to ten minutes to each other can strengthen your bond.
  • Carve out time for daily rituals to do with your partner. For instance, 15 minutes to debrief your day when you first arrive home, waking early to cuddle, and showering or bathing together. Consider eating one meal a day without screen time to enhance communication.
  • Develop strategies for intentional communication and repair of ruptures or conflicts. Strive to have a loving dialogue about perpetual conflicts and agree to compromise on those that aren’t easily resolved. Look for win-win solutions when possible so you can both get some (but not all) of your needs met.
  • Help one another out: This can include helping your significant other make plans, complete tasks, achieve goals or manage their time. These positive actions can lead to interdependence, as partners begin to coordinate their behavior to try to bring their long-term bigger goals to fruition.
  • Dream and plan together – look into your future and envision your dreams while staying focused on the present and your time together.

In The Relationship Cure, Dr. John Gottman suggests that you have a 20 minutes stress-relieving conversation in the evening when you don’t try to solve problems but take turns listening and offering support.

Alana reflects: “I never realized the importance of spending time alone with Tim until he went on a business trip last year. We really missed our time together and found out that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.”

It would be easy for Alana and Tim to neglect time alone together – without their children. Alana’s three children (all under age twelve) live with them and Tim’s two college age daughters are often home on weekends and during winter and summer breaks. However, Alana and Tim embrace the notion that in order for their second marriage to thrive they need to pay attention to each other on a regular basis.

Alana shares: “It’s kind of like tending to my garden, if I don’t pay attention to it, my plants with wither and die. I don’t want this marriage to fail like my first one did due to lack of nourishment because Tim and I have the potential for an amazing long-lasting love.”

Alana leans her head on her palm and reflects: “Before I met my life partner, I had almost given up on finding one. I convinced myself that different people in my life combined would fill the void: one man as my lover, one as my friend, one being the father of my children, and so on. Thankfully, I always had loving friends, community and my family. But, with the people in my life filling different needs, I began to believe that there could be more. I was missing a different type of love than the one I have for my children and family, and it was the type of love I had yet to feel.”

Most of all, never underestimate the power of intentional time with your partner. Doing fun things together like going for walks or riding a bike can bring joy and laughter. Telling jokes, watching funny movies, or anything else that brings you both pleasure can ignite passion and keep you connected. In order to feel alive in your marriage or remarriage, you need to put effort into spending quality time together – with and without your children.

Find Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship was published by Sourcebook is 2016. Her new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True in 2020.


Children of Divorce Often Embrace The Abuse They See

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

When children are exposed to domestic violence in the home, they often mimic the behavior they see or experience.

This means the boys often grow up to become abusers, and the girls grow up to marry them. Most mental health experts who work with victims of physical and sexual assault believe domestic violence is a learned behavior. Children in these situations become desensitized to the violence, and they often begin to mimic their gender role at a young age.

While this is not always the case, it is true the majority of the time – even with children who stay in a shelter with their mothers to escape the violence in their home. The aftermath of divorce creates more complication in a child’s world, adding to the tendency to find comfort behaving like the abuser.

When children witness domestic violence happening in their home, they experience a wide range of emotions, including fear. They become afraid for their mother as well as for themselves. This fear can become crippling and leave a child with feelings of helplessness and despair. In addition, many children often feel guilty and perhaps even responsible for the violence. This can be especially pronounced in cases of divorce, when children frequently take on some of the responsibility in an effort to make sense of what is happening to them. To avoid their feelings of helplessness, many children choose to align with the abuser. They feel safer and stronger when they model the abuse.

Other children may choose to retreat or turn inward. They sometimes try to hide when the violence occurs or listen to loud music so they don’t have to hear the fighting and related abuse. Children who live with domestic violence before or after divorce frequently also have trouble in school. Although school feels like a safe place for these children, they become distracted in class as they worry about their mother or themselves, losing their home or serious financial challenges.

Further complicating the matter, violence is not always physical. Verbal or emotional abuse in a relationship can be just as bad for children who witness or experience it. In fact, many victims state that the toll of persistent emotional abuse can feel even worse than the physical impact.

To break the cycle of domestic violence, children usually benefit from professional counseling along with exposure to positive role models. These children need to learn what a healthy relationship looks like. The longer they are subjected to a toxic home environment, the harder it is to undo the damage.

In some cases, children are able to break the cycle on their own when they become adults. However, most need some type of help along the way. They can get that help through classes and support groups offered at Domestic Abuse Programs available in many communities around the nation. Parents who are victims of this kind of abuse also need to reach out for individual or group support.

If you are experiencing behavior problems with your children, or they are withdrawing emotionally from you, seek out help immediately. The sooner you take action to get the support of a parenting or mental health expert, the faster you can resolve the situation in a positive and mutually beneficial manner.

* * *

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — With Love! For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, articles, advice, programs, coaching services and other valuable resources for co-parents, go to: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.

© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved

The Pros and Cons of Prenups

Marriage is a beautiful and romantic experience where two people come together, but it is also, functionally, a legal agreement. No one should enter marriage lightly, and though it might “ruin the mood,” both parties should prepare for the worst-case scenario.

This article will explain what a prenuptial agreement is, what it can and cannot do for a couple when someone needs a prenup and the advantages and disadvantages of entering it. This information comes from the office of a noted divorce mediation lawyer in Philadelphia.

What is a Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement, commonly called a “prenup,” is a contract between two people engaged to be married in which they agree that certain assets will not be considered marital property in case of divorce. A prenup protects the assets of one spouse, or both spouses, from the property settlement claims of the other should they divorce. Prenups can also set forth what happens to assets should one spouse die.

Why Would You Need a Prenup?

People who own a business or have substantial assets, such as a family legacy, that they wish to protect for their family members or loved ones, ask their partners for a prenup. These people hope to protect that business or those assets from property settlement claims that could arise from divorce.

The Advantages of Having a Prenup

Assets are considered outside the marital property, so one spouse can preserve them for their business partner or partners, children or grandchildren, grandchildren from a previous marriage, or whomever they wish.

A prenup can also streamline the process if a couple divorces, because they can establish in advance what is and is not marital property.

The Disadvantages of Having a Prenup

Just asking your partner for a prenup may create distrust in your relationship. There is nothing less romantic than contemplating your eventual divorce.

The Form of a Prenuptial Agreement Must Comply with State Law

Also, prenups are not always enforceable. For example, the necessary binding language may be omitted if a prenup is not prepared by a professional knowledgeable in state law governing prenuptial agreements. The form of the agreement must comply with state law and properly signed by both parties in order to be enforceable.

Both Parties Must Enter a Prenuptial Agreement Voluntarily

If the agreement was not entered into voluntarily, it will be set aside by the court. For example, suppose one spouse hid assets from the other or purposefully undervalued assets. In that case, the other can claim that they could not voluntarily agree to the property division outlined in the prenup due to this deception.

Duress or lack of capacity of one spouse may invalidate a prenup. For example, if one spouse can show that they felt undue pressure to sign the prenup, whether that pressure be a physical, emotional, or financial threat, the court will invalidate the prenup. If one spouse signed without consulting with their independent attorney, the court might invalidate the prenup.

The Prenuptial Agreement Must Be Fair

Problems may arise with the substance of the agreement that could result in invalidation. Courts regularly invalidate prenups that are unfair towards one party or otherwise unconscionable. For example, if the agreement imposes undue financial hardship on one spouse, eliminates or unfairly limits child custody for one spouse, or imposes marital conditions regarding a spouse’s appearance, sexual acts, or other private behaviors, the agreement is unconscionable and will be invalidated.

What to Do if You Want a Prenup

While it is not the most romantic subject to discuss, you must sit down and tell your partner the reason or reasons you want to enter into a prenup. Those reasons have nothing to do with how you value your relationship with your partner or your expectations about the success of the marriage. Instead, your need for a prenup arises from the needs of the people you seek to protect by shielding your business or certain assets from potential property settlement claims.

Framing the discussion around what you seek to do for your business partners, your children from previous relationships, or your special needs sibling who needs continuing care, helps keep emotions in check. Write down exactly what you want to keep out of marital property and determine a true current value so your partner can make an informed decision.

Be sure to have an attorney help you prepare the prenup. Again, your partner should have their own attorney to ensure that they are informed about the decision they are making in entering into the prenup.

What to Do If Your Partner Wants a Prenup

Don’t panic! Don’t take it personally! First, know that prenups are common, and if your partner wants one, you should know the reasons. If the agreement is reasonable, there is no excuse to be upset or to outright refuse. Does your partner have business partners, children or grandchildren from previous relationships, aging parents, or a special-needs sibling whom they need to provide for? Shielding assets from property settlement claims in a possible future divorce protects these people.

Think about it – you may have assets you want to include in the prenup as well. Many couples have equal or comparable wealth and jointly enter into prenups that provide for both of their assets.

What to Do if You Have a Prenup and Are Divorcing

If you have doubts about the validity of your prenup, seek legal advice. Your lawyer will review the document and tell you if it is enforceable or a possibility a court will invalidate it.

Finally, if discussing a prenup is causing anxiety, mistrust, anger, resentment, or other problems in your relationship, consider seeking professional help. In other words, it’s wise to seek counseling if you disagree about entering into a prenup since it should be a voluntary decision.

About the Author

Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.

How Attachment Style Determines Your Choices in a Partner

By Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT

Your attachment style and degree of individuation determine your partnership choices and relationship satisfaction. The process of individuation—becoming an individual—allows you to meet your needs for both attachment and autonomy necessary for healthy relationships. It starts in the first year of life, as we learn that we’re separate from our mother and that we and other people each have our own thoughts, feelings, needs, perceptions, and boundaries.

Margaret Mahler studied mother-child dyads and identified how we separate from our earliest caregivers and developing autonomy and identity to become an individual. This allows us to develop our true self.

Mahler concluded that separation-individuation depends on continued attachment to a responsive caregiver. This allows a child to develop a stable sense of self and others by integrating fluctuating internal states and frustrating and pleasurable aspects of another person.

Whereas Mahler studied the task of separating, John Bowlby developed attachment theory, also based on early child development, but which focused on how attachment defines our sense of self and others. The two theories overlap, and attachment is affected when we have difficulty differentiating from our first caretaker. Both Bowlby and Mahler agreed that a mother’s consistent and understanding attitude is critical for child development.1

As we grow, other people at home become important and impact our sense of security, self-esteem, and later adult relationships. Autonomy is best achieved when separation from our parents is conflict-free and they’re seen as supportive and nurturing. Separation marked by guilt, resentment, and anxiety is associated with insecure attachments.2

Object Constancy and Splitting

To separate from our mother (or earliest caretaker), as infants we must make sense of contradictory feelings of love and hatred toward her and develop a cohesive view (“object constancy”) of ourselves and others, meaning that we internalize a steady image of ourselves and our mother. When parenting is deficient and we’re unable to integrate good and bad feelings and aspects of our mother, the result is called splitting, first coined by Freud. To cope, we mentally split the good and bad mother into two contrary representations.3 Splitting keeps the “good” and loved aspects of our mother separate from the “bad” and hated aspects of her. This impairs object constancy and our ability to fully develop autonomy. Splitting affects us internally and confuses us. It creates turmoil in close relationships and is associated with an anxious attachment style and fears of abandonment.4

For example, splitting impairs your ability to remember that you love your partner when you’re angry or that your partner is dishonest when you feel close. Splitting contributes to idealization and devaluation. Then you react to your projection rather than reality. You might take impulsive action, such as breaking up or cheating, all the while denying the ensuing heartache stemming from your love and need for your partner. Conversely, you may deny or forget about abuse when your partner is flattering or apologetic.

When separated, you may not be able to recall your partner’s positive or negative traits. If you have an anxious attachment, you may imagine your girlfriend is losing interest or that your boyfriend is flirting. You feel compelled to frequently text or seek reassurance. Not only is it difficult to stay emotionally connected to your partner when apart, you may also conjure up negative characterizations that are abusive, ungratifying, or abandoning, which feel very real until you again talk or see each other. Then you realize it was all in your mind as you struggle to differentiate the present from your unhealed past. (To complicate matters, it may also be true, but splitting confuses you.)

Attachment Styles

Attachment theory claims that daily interactions with our earliest caretaker determine our style of attaching and how we relate to other people. When not parented well, lack object constancy might produce a defensive detachment style, low self-esteem, and pseudo-self-sufficiency to compensate for a lack of connection.5 In some cases, a child may develop narcissism or borderline personality disorder.

We’re likely to seek a partner who conforms to our internal models and reflects how we see ourselves and others.6 Although not fully explained by research, some people with dysfunctional early parenting develop secure attachments

later in life. Temperament also influences how babies behave in ways that appear unrelated to caregiving or are different from siblings who share the same parents.7 The three basic attachment styles include secure, anxious, and avoidant; the last has two variants: fearful and dismissive. Estimates suggest roughly 50 percent of the population is secure, 20 percent is anxious, 25 percent is avoidant, and 5 percent is fearful.8

Secure Attachment

A responsive caretaker in our earliest years helps us traverse the individuation-separation process with a secure attachment, healthy self-esteem, and the capacity for autonomy and intimacy.9 This enables us to deal with separations and object constancy. Secure attachers see themselves and others in a positive light and anticipate that they’re reliable, available, and trustworthy. Thus, they believe that it’s easy for them to be in intimate relationships and depend upon other people. They don’t split or idealize their partners but see them as “whole” persons with positive and negative traits. They seek a comfortable rather than intense relationship. They’re compassionate and responsive to their partner’s communications and needs without reacting to requests for more space or intimacy.

Anxious Attachment

People with an anxious attachment style (also called preoccupied) are hyper-focused on the relationship. If their mother was emotionally unavailable or inconsistent, they might worry about rejection and abandonment, just like as a baby they were preoccupied with her mother’s lack of responsiveness and/or comings and goings. This insecurity sensitizes them to signs of withdrawal or abandonment and makes them question their partner’s feelings and commitment.

People with an anxious attachment style view others positively but believe themselves to be unworthy and unlovable (most codependents). They’ve internalized their early caretaker’s behavior as shaming, inferring that they’re not good enough, lovable, or worthy. Their self-esteem suffers as a result.

They’re uncomfortable and feel less valued being on their own, but believe that relationships will validate their lovability and provide the acceptance that they lack internally. Separations are often fraught with guilt, resentment, and anxiety. In relationships, they’re dependent, insecure, and needy, and want complete closeness. Since relationships reflect self-assessments, their strategy usually doesn’t work, because anxious attachers often bond with someone avoidant whose attachment style matches that of their parent and childhood experience. This only exacerbates their experience of abandonment and reinforces their dependency and low self-esteem. It perpetuates a vicious cycle of emotional abandonment.

Avoidant Attachment An avoidant attachment style evolves when a mother is frequently unresponsive or emotionally unavailable. Her child learns to be self-sufficient and suppresses vulnerable feelings and attachment needs for love and closeness. Those feelings and needs felt unsafe and were experienced as shameful or disappointing. Such a cold mother may also have had this style and expected her child to be independent before it was emotionally mature enough to do so. (See Sons and Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers.)

People who suffered abuse or neglect often develop a fearful attachment style, also known as disorganized. When children fear their mother, they may develop a fearful-avoidant attachment style that has elements of both anxious and avoidant attachment. Like anxious attachers, they see themselves as unworthy and unlovable and want a close relationship, but fear abandonment. However, because they see other people as unavailable, untrustworthy, and rejecting, they’re afraid of becoming dependent and getting hurt. So they avoid relationships to be safe.

Individuals with a dismissive-avoidant style achieve autonomy and have a positive view of themselves. They prefer their independence, avoid closeness, and have disdain for people who want intimacy and a close relationship. They don’t want to depend on other people or have others depend on them, which protects them from rejection and disappointment.

Codependency For codependents, the task of individuation isn’t successfully traversed. Much of their suffering is due to incomplete separation-individuation begun in toddlerhood and conflicting needs for maternal attachment vs. autonomy. Power struggles that accompany individuation in childhood and adolescence frequently continue into adult relationships. Boundaries are difficult to distinguish and establish. Insecure attachments in adult relationships reflect insecure and inconsistent parenting. The dance of intimacy between an anxious pursuer and an avoidant distancer often re-enacts the

earlier mother-child drama. The former seeks more closeness and a secure attachment, while the avoidant partner tries to separate and individuate. In actuality, both are codependent but have adapted to an insecure parenting style in different ways.

Developing object constancy and achieving individuation are never finished.10 Similarly, our attachment style is updated by our adult relational experiences. Secure relationships help us grow. Overcoming codependency promotes individuation and secure attachments. Raise Your Self-Esteem and develop self-love.

© Darlene Lancer 2021

  1. I. Blom, A. Bergman. (2013) “Observing Development: A Comparative View of Attachment Theory and Separation–Individuation,” in Eds. J.E. Bettmann and D.D. Friedman, Attachment-Based Clinical Work with Children and Adolescents. pp. 9-44. New York: Springer Science+Business Media.
  2. D.K. Lapsky, J. Edgerton. (2002). “Separation-Individualization, Adult Attachment Style, and College Adjustment.” Journal of Counseling & Development. Vol. 80:484-492.
  3.  Rubens, R. L. (1996). “The unique origins of Fairbairn’s Theories.” Psychoanalytic Dialogues: The International Journal of Relational Perspectives. 6(3): 413–435.
  4.  D.K. Lapsky, J. Edgerton. Ibid.
  5.  Horner, A. (1995). Object Relations and the Developing Ego in Therapy. United States: Jason Aronson Incorporated.
  6.  D.K. Lapsky, J. Edgerton. Ibid.
  7.  Van IJzendoorn, et al. (2000). The similarity of siblings’ attachments to their mother. Child Dev Jul-Aug; 71(4):1086-98.
  8. J. Birch. (August 16, 2018). “Knowing your ‘attachment style’ could make you a smarter dater,” Washington Post.
  9. D.K. Lapsky, J. Edgerton. Ibid. 10 Mahler, M. S., Pine, F., & Bergman, A. (1975). The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant. New York: Basic Books

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You


10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

“I’m Not Perfect – I’m Only Human” – How to Beat Perfectionism

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Self-Love Meditation

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