In some cases, some people act negatively toward being loved. It is challenging to tolerate and accept. Many people would rather be around those that treat them like rubbish than be with people that adore them for who they are. They pine after old relationships with people that cheated on them or abused them because even though it is illogical, being praised, valued, and loved brings up rage and apprehension in some people. It makes them push away and even abuse those that love them. But why do love, positive acknowledgement and compliments arouse such animosity? Being loved arouses anxiety because it threatens long-standing psychological defences formed early in life in relation to emotional pain and rejection, therefore leaving a person feeling more vulnerable.
Although the experience of being chosen and especially valued is exciting and can bring happiness and fulfilment, at the same time, it can be frightening and the fear often translates into anger and hostility. Basically, love is scary when it contrasts with trauma.
In that situation, the beloved feels compelled to act in ways that hurt the lover: behaving in a punitive manner, distancing themselves and pushing love away. In essence, people maintain the defensive posture that they formed early in life. Because the negative reaction to positive events occurs without conscious awareness, individuals respond without understanding what caused them to react. They rationalize the situation by finding fault with or blaming others, particularly those closest to them.
Being treated with love and tenderness arouses a kind of poignant sadness that many people struggle to block out. Ironically, close moments with a partner can activate memories of painful childhood experiences, fears of abandonment and feelings of loneliness from the past. People are afraid of being hurt in the same ways they were hurt as children.
When people have been hurt, they feel that if they accepted love into their life, the whole world as they have experienced it would be shattered and they would not know who they were. Being valued or seen in a positive light is confusing because it conflicts with the negative self-concept that many people from within their families.
Early in life, children develop fantasies of being fused with a parent or primary caregiver to compensate for what is emotionally missing in their environment. The imagined connection offers a sense of safety, partially gratifies the child’s needs and relieves painful feelings of emotional deprivation and rejection. This fantasy persists into adult life, although it may be largely unconscious. As a result, the hurt individual maintains a sense of pseudo-independence, an attitude that they can take care of themselves without a need for others. As a result of merging with their parents in their imagination, people continue to both nurture and punish themselves in the same way they were treated by their parents. In addition, as love relationships become more meaningful, deep and threatening, people tend to revert to utilizing the same defence mechanisms that their parents used to avoid pain. Reacting in a manner similar to their parents offers a sense of safety, regardless of any negative consequences. Once the fantasy bond takes hold, people are extremely reluctant to take a chance again on real love and gratification from a romantic partner.
The experience of being loved makes one place more value on one’s life, and the anticipation of its ending becomes tortuous. For this reason, people attempt to modify those loving exchanges rather than go through the painful feelings. Often close moments in a relationship are followed by attempts on the part of one or both partners to take the edge off the experience or to withdraw to a “safer” distance. Many people have spoken of heightened feelings of death anxiety after feeling especially close emotionally and sexually, and of later reacting with anger and withholding behaviours that lead to deterioration in the relationship.