Withholding Love

The silent pain that accompanies withholding love as a form of punishment 

By David Wizman

We’ve all been in situations in our relationships where we dont get our way, we get upset, and we feel hurt and misunderstood. These aforementioned feelings all root from a place of fear- fear that we’ve been wronged, neglected, and that our needs aren’t being considered within the relationship. So we react by trying to regain control- and we do so in ways that punish those we truly care about. 

But here’s the catch-22 of that behaviour; punishing those we care most about exacerbates the disconnection we feel and creates an even larger divide in our relationships- which in turn, creates a deeper loss of control and an abysmal sense of fear. 

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions. Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness 

―Brené Brown

A popular form of punishment, and one I’ve noticed most often practiced by both men and woman is the act of withholding love. 

I can’t provide a comprehensive guide to how that may look since everyone displays their pains differently, but here’s how it may look;

  • Coldness replaces warmth 
  • Silence replaces conversation 
  • Turning away replaces turning towards
  • Dismissiveness replaces receptivity
  • Contempt replaces respect. 

The caveat that accompanies such actions is simple. It’s pain. Isolation. Self pity. And resentment. 

Emotional withholding is so painful because its the absence of love, the absence of connection, the absence of compassion, and the absence empathy. There is no love in punishment, only more pain and misunderstanding. 

In contrast to pushing away, the next time opportunity presents itself (and it will) to withhold love, double down. Vulnerability is something we fear greatly, but showing up and communicating offers a way to build greater trust and root the depths of our relationship to new extents. 

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