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Why are there people who do not know how to express love?

Why are there people who do not know how to express love?

June 14, 2024

The world of love and relationships is already complicated, but there are times when dealing with it becomes even more difficult for problems of expression and communication .

In fact, for some people something as simple (theoretically) as saying "I love you" can become a challenge. In part, this may be due to fear of commitment, but it may also have to do with difficulties expressing feelings in general. Then we will see what happens when the love life stumbles upon this second obstacle.

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When love is a hollow word

Imagine that the word love does not mean anything to you , and that the same thing happens with hatred, fear, guilt, or happiness. When you listen to them they sound empty, devoid of the emotional tinge that characterizes them. Feelings are just more words to add to the dictionary, hollow words, you know what they mean because you've learned it, but they do not tell you anything.

You do not know how to interpret emotions, maybe you know that you feel bad in general, but you can not specify if you are sad, angry, scared, etc. You do not know if you're in love or have ever been, never been born to say "I love you" . You do not understand the looks, the gestures, the silences, the non-verbal language is another puzzle that you can not decipher.

Although it seems a curious and rare phenomenon, the Spanish Society of Neurology estimates that, at least according to prevalence studies, 10% of the world population suffers from this situation, that is, one in 10 people have a psychological condition called alexitimia .

Characteristics of alexithimia

The term alexithymia literally means "lack of words for feelings" and denotes a difficulty in identifying and verbally describing emotions and feelings in oneself and in others. This limitation in non-verbal language is also observed.

Some of the symptoms or characteristics of alexithymia are:

  • Difficulty identifying the different types of emotions and feelings.
  • Difficulty connecting emotions with physical or bodily sensations and expressing one's affections.
  • Constrained or restricted thinking style.
  • Difficulty detecting emotions in others and recognizing their facial or gestural signals.
  • Little or no fantasy, daydreams and imaginative activity.
  • Rigid communication style, posture and limited body expressions, without gestures, monotonous tone of voice and without intonation.

People too cold in relationships?

People with alexitimia they are often described by others as cold and distant . They lack empathy and often experience problems when they recognize and respond appropriately to the moods and feelings of the people around them, so family, couple and social relationships are often very affected.

In addition, they present a very pragmatic way of thinking, based on logic, where the affective aspects have no place . They have reduced capacity to enjoy and for them it is almost impossible to experience fantasies and dreams or to think imaginatively.

It is not the alexithymics that do not have emotions; they have them, their difficulty is that they can not recognize them and express them with words or gestures. The inability to express the affects causes them to somatize, presenting headaches, stomach pains, tachycardia, muscle tension, etc. They reflect in their physical state what they can not say with words or gestures . Therefore, alexithymic people find it very difficult to differentiate what emotions are from what bodily sensations are.

  • Related article: "Alexitimia: the inability to say" I love you ""

Types of difficulties to talk about feelings

Alexithymia can be divided into two categories-

1. Primary Alexithymia

It is related to organic factors . Here patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders would be framed. In fact, a high percentage of patients with autism spectrum disorders (between 80% and 90%) show features of alexithymia. It is also related to injuries or neurological diseases, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, parkinson, etc.

In neurological terms, it may be due to a communication dysfunction between the limbic system (responsible for regulating emotions) and the neocortex (regulates abstract intelligence, reasoning and logic), or between the left hemisphere (it is responsible for language, logical reasoning, etc.) and law (is responsible for emotions, creativity, art, etc).

2. Secondary Alexithymia

Related to purely psychological factors, It is observed in people who have suffered emotional traumas , such as childhood abuse, situations of post-traumatic stress (war, sexual abuse, mistreatment, etc.), or simply that they have not had adequate emotional learning in childhood (children who have not been adequately taught to tag and identify your emotions).

It is also frequent in subjects with depression, cyclothymia, eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, or people with addictions. The secondary alexithymia, unlike the primary one, can be reversible through psychotherapy, and sometimes with the help of antidepressant drugs.


Although people with alexithymia do not usually go to therapy, and if they do, it is because of the insistence of their immediate environment, cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy can help them develop their emotional awareness.

The main objective of psychological treatment it will help the patient to identify, label and properly understand emotions. It is important that they know how to endow emotions with meaning, verbalize them and identify the sensations associated with them.

It will also be necessary to compensate for the poor emotional regulation capacity by teaching the person to self-regulate emotionally , and adequately express the affections.

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