We asked Dusty Miller, the author of the new book, Stop Running From Love: Three Steps to Overcoming Emotional Distancing and Fear, some tough questions. The good news: She didn't up and run. Scroll down to learn if you fit the profile of a classic "distancer."
You've written about addiction and trauma. What made you write a book about love?
I was thinking about how even when a lot of therapeutic work has been done and a lot of issues are resolved, people still often face big challenges to having real closeness and intimacy and satisfaction in relationships, and I thought it was time to write about that.
And I really wanted to take a somewhat different approach, rather than having people try the same old thing and get discouraged. You always hear, "You've got to be open and communicate honestly," but that's not a magic bullet. I knew that a lot of people—both men and women— have reasons they don't do that easily.
I think there's a kind of universal fear of being vulnerable or letting somebody in.
That's not so different from what other people write about, but I think the difference is understanding that there are different ways to approach changing that.
My approach has people determine what they need to work on, and practice that in whatever social community suits them. That's usually not something that happens in traditional couples therapy. That's where I'm really hoping this provides something different.
You use the word "distancer" to describe people who avoid keep themselves from engaging fully in relationships. What is a distancer?
There are certainly a lot of people who avoid committed relationships altogether.
And I think all of us have known people—and some of us are people—who will start to get close in a relationship, and then pull away when they feel threatened or feel too vulnerable or afraid they're going to be suffocated, or lose their autonomy.
It's more subtle when people distance within a relationship. They're married or with a boyfriend or girlfriend , but they're really not there— there's a way in which they're holding themselves back to the point that either they or their partner is unhappy.