Love Lost

Posted on in On Our Radar by Sonika Tinker

What We Do to Keep
Love Away


Desiree and Brian were fighting all the time. It was so bad that she was sleeping downstairs. He was pissed off at their lack of sex, and she was angry at their lack of intimacy. They both wanted to connect but were unable to connect at all.

This story is the tragic reality of too many relationships.

We all want to feel in love and happy in our relationships. And we often start off that way in courtship, believing our love will be the exception and beat the odds. But over time we devolve to contentious, boring, sexless, lonely marriages where more than half end in divorce. Why do our best efforts to make our relationships better often make them worse? Why do we unconsciously destroy love in our attempts to revive love?

We quit giving.

Love gives. And this is no more obvious than at the beginning of a relationship, where we are generous with our giving. We are attentive and affectionate. We give gifts. We make love for hours. We listen to each other with great rapture. We fix things that are broken. We can’t wait to show and express our love.

Unfortunately, as relationships proceed, we give less and less. We think the path back to love is to get our partner to change. We try to get them to help around the house, to have sex—to show their love like they used to. With both focused on getting and no one giving, love’s flow stops.

We focus on what is missing.

We spend most of our time in relationship focused on what is missing. Our attention is drawn to our problems. We are on hyper-alert to notice and point out what isn’t working. Unfortunately, this habit of focus prevents us from enjoying what we do have.

We fight to be right.

Without realizing it, there are two fears that run the show and wreck love: “I am unlovable” and “I won’t get what we want.” When our partner does or says something that hurts, our fears get activated. It’s as if we say, “See! I knew it!” and we rush in to prove that our fears of not being loved are true. Our baffled partner attempts to defend and reassure as we diligently fight to be right about something we don’t actually want to be right about. We unfortunately can only let in as much love as our self-esteem will allow.

We mistake wanting for having.

We are dreamers. We see the possibility of what our relationships could be. Unfortunately, this possibility has a downside. Our vision ruins us—the present moment never quite matches up to our ideal.

We spend the bulk of our time in relationship wanting. Unfortunately, there is a major problem with wanting: wanting and having cannot exist in the same space. For example, when we want intimacy, we cannot feel intimacy.

Let’s return to Desiree and Brian, the first couple in our story. One evening, she decides to make the brave move to go upstairs and initiate sex and intimacy with her husband. She crawls into bed, and immediately, Brian launches in: “See! You never do this! You never come up here. You never want to have sex. You are so closed and unavailable. . . .” Fifteen minutes later, she storms angrily back downstairs. Brian is so stuck in wanting sex that he misses out on the opportunity to have it when it is right in front of him.

To create our relationship dream, we must learn how to move from wanting to having so our visions become actualities, not unattainable sources of suffering.

We don’t resolve problems.

We move ahead with buying that boat, making that investment, or taking that trip, even when our partner isn’t aligned with our decision. We avoid talking about that last fight we had. These incomplete communications and win/lose decisions breed resentment, distrust, and hurt.

We resist vulnerability.

Vulnerability is a funny thing. We value others who are vulnerable. We admire their courage, connect with their humanity, and we love them more. But when we are vulnerable, we think of ourselves as weak, unlovable, and looking bad.

In relationship, we toughen ourselves to avoid feeling and vulnerably expressing our pain. Instead, we blame, criticize, and try to control our partners. This only results in increased guardedness, disconnection, and dissatisfaction.

We assume we are the same.

We don’t mean to, but we overlay our interpretations and values onto others. For example, if I don’t talk to you, it is because I am ignoring you or punishing you, so I assume you are ignoring or punishing me if you don’t talk to me. For you, it may mean nothing of the sort, only that you are engrossed in a project or working hard to meet a deadline.

When we don’t understand key differences, we keep understanding, compassion, connection, and even humor, at bay.

The only reason we push love away is because we don’t know how to create and maintain successful, loving, passionate relationships. Rest assured, love is a skill that can be learned. You can learn how to step out of wanting into having and out of trying to get into giving. You can learn how to move together as partners to call out the highest version of yourselves. You can, with simple relationship support, learn to create an ever-upward spiral of love and passion for years!

Sonika Tinker, MSW, co-author of The Good Divorce and Seize Your Opportunities and her husband, Christian Pedersen, CLC, bestselling author of When You Love Your Woman, are relationship experts offering relationship solutions. For free videos on sex, love, and intimacy or information on live trainings, visit

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