The Paradox of Intimacy and Hurt with Dr. Leon Seltzer

Dr. Leon Seltzer joins the show today to speak about his work in intimate relationships, early wounding and healing, and the paradoxical relationship of intimacy and independence. He and Rob also discuss how defensive behavior and betrayal mirrors the world of addiction and the role that a family attachment bond later has on picking relationship partners. Dr. Seltzer describes the qualities he sees in couples able to work their way through great difficulties, and what seems to be missing in those unable to overcome betrayal.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:07] Dr. Leon Seltzer has two doctorates, one in English, and the second in Psychology. He is also a prolific blogger for Psychology Today, and has written over 400 articles for the website which have resulted in over 30 million views. [3:24] Those that grew up without a secure attachment bond to their family may have a tougher time trusting their partner. When people aren’t secure within themselves, they are in self protection mode rather than truly able to feel vulnerable. [6:09] A child needs to feel that they can be themselves in their relationship, and yet secure enough to go out on their own and develop self confidence without their parents. [9:49] In order for people to really know us and connect with us on an authentic level, we must pursue an intimate relationship that also includes us being independent. The paradox is that to be completely intimate, we must be able to be independent. [12:03] We want to give the wounded partners time and space to feel angry, hurt, and betrayed, but if they decide to stay in the relationship there is a certain point where the punishing becomes detrimental to moving forward and healing. [15:13] Emotional resourcefulness, empathy without shaming, and ability to express vulnerability are key traits that Dr. Seltzer sees in couples that are able to work through betrayal. The partner acting out must recognize how their behavior has hurt their partner. They also must endure guilt deep enough that they really get how much harm they have done to the other person, so much so that it is unthinkable to do it again. [18:54] If the acting out is due to fear, the partner acting out must learn ways to make them feel less ashamed without going back into the addictive process. [21:08] A large part of betrayed partners healing is recognizing their own behaviors that may be in place to distract or disengage from their own emotions, and to have more compassion for avoidance and defensive behaviors. [25:36] It is common for couples dealing with infidelity to be so focused on the betrayal that they miss opportunities for growth and connection beyond the hurt. You can never get trust back fully right away, rather by degrees in a process that takes time.   RESOURCES: Sex and Relationship Healing @RobWeissMSW Sex Addiction 101 Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy Evolution of the Self Psychology Today: Leon Seltzer   QUOTES: “All intimate relationships are going to be challenging. To have an intimate relationship, you have to be willing to both trust the other person and make yourself vulnerable.” “We all have the innate drive to influence others. That can’t happen unless people can confide in us, without feeling us sitting in judgement of them.” “It’s synonymous to be authentic in your relationship with others, and to be courageous enough to be vulnerable in your relationship with others.” “To have an intimate relationship with another person, you need to feel independent from them.” “Addiction thrives in isolation.” “We live in a world where we can trust only ourselves, or we can trust others.”  

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