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Seven Types of Intimacy Avoiders - Which Group are You in?

© Seven Types of Intimacy Avoiders - Which Group are You in? is by George Hartwell M.Sc., all rights reserved, June 2006

Your comments or questions on "Seven Types of Intimacy Avoiders - Which Group are You in?" are appreciated.
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Seven Intimacy Avoider Types - Which Group are You in?

This is about who avoids intimacy and why?

I have also found that when a couple (or half of a couple) avoids intimacy long enough they will end up in silent divorce.  I have discovered seven  personality types that avoid intimacy.  We are in silent divorce when these patterns are stronger than the forces God put within us so that we could become one flesh. 

Stay in Silent Divorce long enough and even the bonding that God put there (emotional and spiritual attachment) will be broken.  When the connection is broken it will feel like love is gone. 

When a partner says: "I no longer love you" it can be due to anger, hurt and resentment or other issues that can be resolved with good therapy.  More serious is when the bond is broken, attachment and connection no longer present.  It no long seems safe to make love.  That is when, it seems to me, the marriage dies.

We each have a tendency toward one or more of these types.  We each could slip into the habit of avoiding intimacy.  Any one of us can end up in a silent divorce (or divorce). 

Do you recognize the marital patterns and personality types that end up in failed marriages? 

Here are seven:

  1. Emotional immaturity - we have not matured to the point of being ready for adult intimacy.

  2. Emotional woundedness - do to lack of love binding in childhood we failed to gain the capacity for adult loving intimacy.

  3. Flight from life - an avoidant personality with a high need for privacy, control of appearances and risk avoidance.

  4. Super-responsible - so busy caring for others and keeping order that intimacy is avoided (John and Paula Sandford: Parental Inversion).

  5. People Pleasing - our identity lost as we respond by doing what other's expect, being good, doing right, being nice (Performance Orientation).

  6. Dominating Personality - often fearing vulerability or being a victim (again) we dominate and overpower everyone and grab control.

  7. Deepening trust and loyalty issues - hypervigilant to possible threat, in deep need for total loyalty, we have the tendency to become isolated and paranoid.

Now each ot these ways deserves further discussion and On this web site some of them do. 

What are the general ways that we destroy marital intimacy and create a silent divorce?

Here are 8 ways that one can limit the personal, the connection, the bonding, the love connection in a marriage or sexually active couple relationship and end up in a silent divorce.  Is this related to 'putting assunder what God put together?'

  1. Avoid eye contact in sexual contact perhaps by always having the light out.

  2. Avoid the calming down together after sexual relations. 

  3. In conversation, avoid topics that are close and personally relevant. 

  4. Minimize connection by talking from distant rooms. 

  5. If in the same room sit out of contact at a great distance from the other. 

  6. Do not acknowledge or connect with the other’s feelings. 

  7. Do not ask the other for anything. 

  8. Don’t tell them when you are in difficulty and need support.

How does fear and control block marital intimacy and create the silent divorce?

Fear and the associated lack of trust is always with a high need to be in control.  Where trust is low control is high.  People that have basic trust do not have to control others.  One does not feel secure until one achieves full control of close relationships.  The more fear, the more insecurity the more one becomes very controlling of other people.  And the more control the more love is destroyed.  Love and control cannot exist together.

When love is destroyed, silent divorce ensues. Here are some to the ways control manifests in a relationship:


What  does the ‘Life Avoidant’ Personality look like?

There is a personality type that is associated with avoidance of risk. Such persons are basically in flight from life and use manipulation and control to consolidate this flight. Such people become very controlling in order to remove the risk of living. Maybe they are not good at 'self-soothing' - that is, they do not do a good job of controlling their own anxiety.

The 'life-avoidant' personality is a prime candidate for a silent divorce. Here is how life avoidance shows up in a relationship:

Jesus comments on life-avoidance in the parable of the talents

In Jesus parable about failure to risk (Matthew 25:24-30) the risk avoidant “wicked, lazy servant” ends up losing what they have. That worthless servant is thrown out into the darkness!

So, according to Jesus, it is inevitable that whoever buries his talent will lose what he thinks he has. Without trust (courage) there is no risk.  Without risk, there is no growth.  Without growth (movement forward), there is death!

How  this happens:

When the avoidant partner avoids all personal communication, adult consultation, playful interaction and all correction or negative feedback, then the other partner will be lonely and vulnerable for communication intimacy.

When the avoidant partner minimizes all kissing, hugging, caressing and being affectionately physical together then both partner will end up ‘touch’ starved.

When the genital sexual relationship does not develop into heart to heart bonding because of the avoidance of eye contact, stepping away from the afterglow period then a powerful opportunity to deepen the marital bond and feed and nurture one another’s spirits is missed.

When decisions are not shared together, requests are not made, discussion does not happen the life together must of necessity become life apart from one another.

Both of the partners begin to deaden within, the heart sickens, the spirit languishes, one lives with constant residual depression and a search for life outside of the marriage becomes as search for life, love at the emotional and spiritual level.  One strongly hungers and thirsts for that which will lift one spirits, heal one’s heart, rekindle one’s passion and bring the experience of community and intimacy to one’s soul.

By God’s design there is a powerful oneness created in sexual union, in cleaving to one’s wife, in becoming one with her.  But Jesus is right.  After years of neglect (the burial of the possibility by the one ine flight from life) even that powerful God-given oneness does die.


When Silent Divorce becomes Legal Divorce

People will differ in how they handle silent divorce, the weakening and finally the death of the marital bond.  Once we recognize that what God puts together sometimes man pulls asunder, not just legally but by neglect, by avoidance, by head in the sand living, by burial of one’s talent, then we are open to learn where people are at and how they are dealing with that reality.

Some couples are not motivated to destroy the appearance of marriage and so keep up the appearance of marriage that we call ‘silent divorce.’  If you observe closely you may find that they also become more distant from God.  Some couples make strong efforts to mend and restore their broken hearts and recreate a healthy marital bond.  In some one, or both, partners will move on in the direction of life, love and communion with God.