Why Are There People Who Don’t Know How To Express Love?

The world of love and relationships is already complicated, but sometimes dealing with it becomes even more difficult because of the expression and communication problems

In fact, for some people something as simple (theoretically) as saying “I love you” can become quite 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. Next we will see what happens when love life encounters this second obstacle.

When love is an empty word

Imagine that the word love means nothing to you, and the same thing happens to you with hate, fear, guilt, or happiness. When listening to it sounds empty, devoid of the emotional tone that characterizes it. Feelings are just another word to add to the dictionary, empty words, that you know what they mean because you have learned it, but they don’t tell you anything.

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

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Although it may seem like a curious and rare phenomenon, the Spanish Society of Neurology estimates that, at least and according to prevalence studies, 10% of the world’s population suffers from this situation, that is, one in 10 people has a psychological condition called alexithymia

Characteristics of alexithymia

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 others. This limitation is also observed in non-verbal language.

Some of the symptoms or characteristics of alexithymia are:

People too cold in relationships?

People with alexithymia are often described by others as cold and distant They lack empathy and often experience problems when it comes to recognizing and responding appropriately to the moods and feelings of the people around them, which is why family, couple, and social relationships are often greatly affected.

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

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

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Types of difficulties talking about feelings

Alexithymia can be divided into two categories-

1. Primary alethymia

It is related to organic factors This includes patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In fact, a high percentage of patients with autism spectrum disorders (between 80% and 90%) show traits of alexithymia. It is also related to neurological injuries or diseases, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, etc.

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

2. Secondary alethymia

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

It is also common in subjects with depression, cyclothymia, eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, or people with addictions. Secondary alexithymia, unlike primary alexithymia, 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 due to 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 will be to help the patient identify, label and properly understand emotions. It is important that they know how to give emotions meaning, verbalize them and identify the sensations associated with them.

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