The Withholder Attachment Personality Pattern: Overcoming codependency and the fear of intimacy.


How withholding sabotages intimacy and prevents you from having the relationships you want.

When we are born into a family of dysfunction, we find a way to function. We develop a way of being that allows us to survive, thrive, connect, or cope. I call these Attachment Personality Patterns (APPS).

Today, we are discussing the APP of the Withholder.


It is not my intention to diagnose you. I am simply giving you a framework to identify patterns of codependency behavior so that you can break free from these self destructive patterns and in turn, create the loving, mutually beneficial, healthy relationships you deserve.


That being said, there are 5 key indicators of a Withholder.  Although there are certainly more than 5 ways this shows up, I find these 5 to be prevalent in most Withholding Types.

You do not need to identify with all 5 to type as a withholder. You may simply identify strongly with 1 or 2 key indicators.


The important thing is that we cultivate awareness around how withholding shows up in your relationships and sabotages your connections with others. With that awareness, you will be well on your way to breaking free from this Pattern.


Patterns are not pathological. And they are not fixed. You also may identify with more than one Personality Pattern. The important thing to know is that you can change your Attachment Personality Pattern at any time simple by deciding to begin your codependency recovery journey.


Key indicator #1. Feelings and vulnerability are difficult for you.


When someone asks you how you feel, you normally answer with”I think.” or “I think I fee.” It’s difficult for you to identify what you are feeling.

Perhaps you are so used to suppressing your feelings that you have lost touch with them.


Withholders do feel and they feel deeply. But they have trouble expressing and regulating their feelings. You may find your feelings emerge at inopportune times. For example, you may get emotional and feel like crying at a business meeting, but later scolds you for being “weak.”


This is very common because most Withholders believe that vulnerability is weakness.


Key indicator #2. You create distance from others


Withholders desperately long for intimacy and closeness, but they are fearful of letting people in. So, they keep everyone at an arm’s distance.


Withholders sabotage intimacy and they do this with distancing techniques.


One of the techniques is withholding affection, attention or approval.

If a withholder does get vulnerable and has a meaningful connection, they will find that they end up creating an argument shortly after.


They do this to restore the distance. Most withholders experience a vulnerability or intimacy hangover when they share a lot of themselves.


Key indicator #3 Poor boundaries around sex


Obviously there is nothing wrong with having as much sex as you like with whomever you like.

But for a withholder, they’re more likely to have sex with their partner when they don’t feel like it.

Think of it this way. It requires more intimacy and vulnerability for a withholder to share their feelings around sex than to actually have it.


Withholders want intimacy, but often settle for sex. Sex becomes a parody for intimacy and a way to feel connected without actually getting emotionally vulnerable.


Some withholders can end up having more sexual experiences than other types for this reason. In an attempt to connect and experience intimacy, they may jump from partner to partner thinking eventually, they will find fulfillment. But they never do because fulfillment isn’t found in others.


As a withholder, you may find it easier to share your body versus share your true feelings.


Key indicator #4 Poor communication.


Let’s say a withholder gets into therapy or coaching. They are very unlikely to “offer up” intimate details of their life. In fact, they will usually only “go there” when asked directly.

And even then, a withholder is likely to report a childhood in which “Everyone did the best they could. Whatever. We survived. I moved on. I’m over it.”


Though most withholders come from significantly difficult backgrounds, they may not see it that way or be reluctant to “open that can of worms.” This is because the thought of going there brings up fear of getting lost in the painful emotions it could create.


In relationships, withholders have a mind reading fantasy. They think that when the right person comes into their life, they will magically know what the withholder feels, thinks and needs.


They live their life in a hard shell waiting for the right person to crack them open and make it safe and easy for them to be vulnerable. Of course, this never happens because even when they do find someone who inspires them to share deeply, they may pull back because of that intimacy hangover noted earlier.


Key indicator #5 Binge Restrict Cycling.


In my opinion, all restriction breeds compulsion.


And withholders usually engage in some form of hot and cold, back and forth, all or nothing behavior.


You may find that what you are with a person, you initially feel attracted and connected and are eager to spend time with them. But at some point, your attraction fades; you find reasons not to like them and you lose your desire to be with them at all.


Often, you feel like ships passing in the night with partners.


This cycle can also show up with your ambition and drive to make your dreams real. Sometimes you’ll be all in, hyper focused and super responsible, getting things moved off of your to do list. Only to be followed by a crash and burn. You want to lie in bed all day with the covers over your head and be super irresponsible.


It can happen in friendships. You’ll want to spend time with your friends but then find you make plans only to regret it and find excuses to lie to get out of spending time with them.


Or it can be a literal binge/restrict cycle with substances like food or alcohol.


Now that I’ve identified the 5 key indicators, I want to discuss the point of origin for this Attachment Personality Pattern.


Likely, you were born into a family that was dysfunctional in some way whether it is abusive, alcoholic, or addicted. The main theme was uncertainty, unreliability and unpredictability.


You wanted the love of your primary caregiver(s), but found that loving them meant you got hurt in some way. So while you longed for the closeness intimacy could provide, you simultaneously feared it. You inevitably ended up abandoned, rejected or hurt.


So today, one of the core internal battles a withholder faces is the deep need for intimacy and the simultaneous fear it will destroy her/him.


Withholders don’t necessarily fear abandonment because their strategy is to never get too close to anyone in the first place so it won’t hurt when /if they do leave.


They believe that by keeping distance, they won’t love too much. Meaning, if they did allow themselves to get fully vested in someone, the pain of their inevitable betrayal would be too much to bear. So they maintain distance to avoid feeling to vested.


What is the path to recovery for a withholder?


If you recognize that you fit this pattern, the work begins with your recovery journey. That’s why I created LYFE School which stands for Love Yourself First Empowerment. In LYFE School, I teach the 7 tenets to overcoming all codependent Attachment Personality Patterns. You learn to speak your truth and share your authentic self with those you love. You learn to open and allow others to love you the way you want to be loved. You work through the old programming and fears that have kept you from truly connecting with others.


If you are interested in LYFE School you can find more out here.



Coach Heidi


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How to stop negative self talk

Do you have a tape in your head that never shuts up, always telling you how you’re screwing up? Does it judge you without mercy, constantly comparing you to others and reminding you of your limits, deficiencies, and inadequacies?  

The relationship that has the potential to do the most damage to your self -esteem is the relationship you have with yourself, especially if that relationship is dysfunctional, toxic or emotionally abusive by way of negative self-talk.


You might be wondering, “how can you have a toxic relationship with yourself?”

Well, what is a toxin? It’s something that pollutes you creating dis-ease. And one of the ways we pollute our minds and spirit is by filling it with hurtful untruths about who we really are and what we’re capable of.

If we do not get a handle on the way that we speak to ourselves, it will annihilate our chances of ever becoming our true selves, doing the things in life we really want to do and having the love, life and relationships that we deserve.


I had to find a way.  I had an inner critic that never shut up. Nighttime was particularly bad and that’s when the tape would be the loudest and most intrusive. I would lay awake for hours in an anxiety ridden state replaying the movie of my life’s previewed mistakes.


It was torture. But the truth is, as much as I watched motivational videos, looked in the mirror and said affirmations or listened to self love meditations, it wasn’t working.


I needed something more. Some of these strategies may seem odd. But they worked!


Watch the video to learn some tangible ways to break free from destructive, negative self-talk. 


How to love yourself. What is self love when you’re overcoming codependency?

Over the years, I’ve coached thousands of people who are in toxic, dysfunctional or unhealthy relationships and I always ask the same question:,” What do you think is the number one thing you can learn that will set you free from all of these dysfunctional toxic relationship problems once and for all?”


After they think about it for a minute, they say, “ I think I need to learn to love myself”


And that’s exactly right! We need to learn how to love ourselves. But the problem is we don’t know what the hell that means.


When I ask people “How do you love yourself?”  They talk about taking baths, getting manicures or massages. They tell me about going to the gym or eating “clean”. In other words they tell me about self care.


Self care is a part of self love, but it is NOT self love.


The truth is there aren’t enough bath bombs in the world to compensate for a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy. There aren’t enough manicures on the planet to quiet your harsh inner critic.

I needed to learn this too. I didn’t love myself either. I had a real problem with self-destructive behavior. I chose people who didn’t want me in relationships.And I wasn’t attracted to the ones who wanted me. I thought something must be wrong with them to like me so much.  


The outside looked pretty good though. I had self care. But behind closed doors, I was self-medicating and self-loathing. Numbing out with food and alcohol.

I couldn’t shut that tape off in my head screaming, “What’s the matter with you? What’s wrong with you? Why are you the way you are? Why can’t you be normal like everybody else?” My negative self-talk that would constantly have me second guessing myself. 

If you have the same tape in your head, it’s time to get busy loving yourself. But HOW do you do that?

The first thing we need to understand is that love is not a feeling. Love isn’t something you feel. Chemistry is a feeling, attraction is a feeling, but love is a verb.

Love is something you do not something you feel.

So if that’s the case, self love must be something you do and do daily.

In fact and I don’t love myself at all unless I am demonstrating my love for myself on a daily basis.


I can say I love myself, but if I can’t demonstrate it, and I’m still picking the wrong people for me, I’m still self-destructive, or I self medicate, I am not really loving myself.


The first thing that we Master on the road to loving ourselves is figuring out who the hell we are.


You can’t love yourself if you don’t even know who you are.


Most of us aren’t who we are, we’re who we’ve needed to be and  that’s called codependency. 


When you’re born into a toxic or dysfunctional family dynamic, you’re just trying to scramble and hustle for love and affection.


You end up taking on what I call, an Attachment personality Pattern.  

These personality patterns are the masks we wear to thrive, survive, connect or cope in our family of origin. I have come up with eight different personality patterns. One of the patterns is the people pleaser. You just want to make everybody happy all the time so you just go along with the show and put your own needs off to the Wayside. Another is the controller. You feel like you need to be in control of everything all the time and you become compulsively self-reliant, developing trust issues. Another pattern is that of the Fixer. You run to the rescue all the time, choosing broken people to put back together. And yet another pattern is that of the withholder. Where you keep people at arm’s distance.  You’re in it but not “in it to win it” because you don’t want people to use your feelings against you. So, you keep your feelings to yourself.


We have all these different personality patterns running the show.  And that’s why step 1 is to know who you are. 


You need to  excavate your authentic self and figure out who you really are at your core 


By the way, in my programs over at LYFE School, we get to the bottom of this as well as 6 other daily self love disciplines. It’s a self love system.  


Another way we love ourselves is by practicing radical acceptance. This is when we learn to trade self- righteousness for reality and not only do we accept ourselves for who we are, but we learn to accept others for who they are too.


That’s an art form.


We can carry around immense resentments waiting for others to love us the way we want to be loved. But when we learn it’s really up to us, we can release the hostage (a I call it) and start meeting our own needs.


This is a problem for those of us learning to love ourselves because we are so used to putting the needs of others before our own.


But when you are learning to love yourself, you learn what makes you tick, brings you joy and fulfills you. 


You stop waiting for other people to buy you the flowers and you plant a garden.


We stop waiting on others and we lead the way.


We stop trying  to be a shapeshifter, doing what we think will pleasure everyone else and we start to please ourselves.


We master the concept of enough when we learn to love ourselves as well.


When I was meeting my needs by binge drinking and binge-eating, I could never get enough. 


There  were never enough Oreos and  there was never enough wine. And do you know why there’s never enough wine or never enough Oreos? Because you can never have enough of what you don’t really want. And what you really want doesn’t come in a sleeve, or in a bottle. It comes from within.


Another thing we do daily when we love ourselves is we learn to speak our truth.


Many of us have been lying to ourselves for a long time. We don’t know how to radically speak our truth anymore because we’re so careful not to upset or offend those who matter to us. 


You’re afraid to rock the boat because you’ve been walking on eggshells most of your life.

Well love,it’s time to make an omelette. 


Part of loving yourself is learning how to set and hold boundaries when it’s hard.


You know the old joke, “Why did The Narcissist cross the road? Because he thought it was a boundary.”


When you Love Yourself, you stop waiting for others to get it and you start respecting yourself. You start by respecing your own boundaries and stop betraying yourself, going back on your own words. 


We’ve got a good start to learning how to love yourself. But the truth is, we know nothing unless we are demonstrating it.


I want to help you deepen your understanding and learn how to walk your talk.


This work is so important for me for many reasons. But it’s not  just because I teach this and I certify  LYFE coaches, of course these are BIG reasons to do this work. 


But the thing that means the most to me is watching my daughter, knowing I broke a toxic, dysfunctional cycle of playing and hurting from deep seeded self hatred.


When I look at her, I see an unleashed human being who is radically approving of herself. She feels her worth at her core and knows her  value and doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody. It’s her nature.


It’s pretty miraculous to watch and I think that’s your nature too.


I believe you were born with that same knowing until somebody talked you out of it and you forgot how magnificent you are.


Let me come alongside you and take you on a  journey back to your true nature.


Coach Heidi

How to set and hold boundaries with a toxic parent

How to set and hold boundaries with a toxic parent

If you have a relationship that keeps you awake at night, scratching your head wondering what you need to do to get them to change or stop treating you the way they’re treating you then you are in a toxic or dysfunctional relationship. 


And if it happens to be a parent that’s toxic or dysfunctional, it complicates matters because you have this layer of expectations around you from other people of how you’re supposed to handle it. IE: “That’s your mom or you’re Dad! Come on! You’re supposed to love them and accept them for who they are. They brought you into the world”.

And if you happen to create some distance with your toxic parent and you share that with somebody, saying “I’m just not speaking to my mom or dad right now.”  You’ll find sometimes you get that sideways look, people wondering what’s wrong with you.Never mind the fact that you’re not talking to him or her for a damn good reason. 


First of all,what is a toxic or dysfunctional person?


Well what is a toxin? And what does a toxin do? It makes you sick and unhealthy. So, a toxic person affects your health and makes you sick.  A toxic person can affect your mental health, your physical health, your psychological health, your emotional health, your financial health and so on. 


A toxic parent  could be a narcissistic parent, an emotionally (or an way) abusive parent, an addicted parent on and on.


Maybe you have tried to set boundaries in the past and prayed and hoped that this could be the one time that they’re going to change. You wanted them to love you the way you deserve, give you the respect you want, but you continually end up disappointed.. 


I’m going to give you 3 keys today on how to set a boundary with a toxic parent. Of course, if you want more help, consider joining our next boundary workshop.


The very first key is clarity.


The first thing  you want to do when we set a boundary is to get really crystal clear about what actually it is that you’re no longer willing to tolerate or settle for.


There are specific behaviors that you’re going to be unavailable for moving forward and you need to be able to communicate what those are with precision. 


Anytime you’re triggered to defend yourself, rationalize your own feelings or justify your own position, or if you’re feeling controlled or manipulated, a boundary is a proper response.


Make a list of all the things  you’re no longer willing to do. Is it giving money? Is it you’re no longer willing to be emotionally manipulated? Is it that you’re no longer willing to be around with him or her under the influence? 


The second key is embracing reality.


This key is what  I call trading righteousness for reality.


Your Righteous person. You have a good heart. You know right from wrong and you know darn well how you’re supposed to be treated. You know how a mother is supposed to behave. You know that she’s supposed to be kind, compassionate, loving, warm, consistent, caring, and having  unconditional love.


You know how a dad is supposed to behave. He’s among other things: a kind, supportive, protective, leader, etc. 


The problem is, you don’t have a mom or a dad. You have a “Rick” or a “Janet”.


Trading righteousness for reality means we stop  living in the expectation of the role that people are supposed to play in our lives and we see them as people instead.


We stop trying to cram “Janet” into a mom box and let her be herself. We simply choose how we want to experience her being herself.


We stop taking his or her behavior personally.


I know releasing them from the role carries with it a certain kind of grief. As it’s been said, “One of  the hardest things to do is to  grieve a person who is still alive.”


But, if you can see clearly and accept the reality of who “Janet” is, detaching her from “Mother”, you can make educated decisions about how you prepare and protect yourself.


Key number 3 is Do the damn thing.


I understand the hardest thing to do is actually do the damn thing and that’s setting and following through with the boundary.


First, we use the formula.

When you…

I feel..

I want…

If you…

I will…


For example,

 “When you drink, 

I feel anxious.

I want to have sober interactions with you.

So, if you continue drinking, 

I will leave.”



“When you speak to me that way

I feel disrespected and hurt.

I want to have healthy discussions with you.

If you continue to speak to me this way,

I will leave/ hang up.”


As you can see, the formula is simple. It’s not a dissertation, defending your position for a reason.


You do not need to defend, rationalize, or justify your position.


Now here’s the Magic Bullet piece of advice. You need to know when you set a boundary with somebody that’s toxic or dysfunctional you better expect that they are going to cross the boundary over and over again.


SO, you will need to repeat yourself over and over and you will need to continue to enact the consequence over and over.


You do the thing you said you were going to do. And I know that’s the hardest part.


It’s hard when you have to walk away, when you have to end the conversation again, when you  have to hang up for the 50th time, when you have to delete the texts and disengage, when you have to stop sending the checks,  when you have to stop rescuing. 


It’s hard because the inner judgement starts. The voice in your head tells you that you aren’t being a good daughter or a dutiful son.


When you decide to stop playing by the dysfunctional family rules, the toxic or dysfunctional person will pull out all the stops, working overtime to make you feel shame and guilt. Experts call this FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt tactics to cusk you back in.)


Stay strong and firm in your boundaries, root down in your value and be the love for yourself you craved your whole life but they were unable to give.


Part of the healing process is declaring a  self-love Manifesto.


Decide  that you’re going to give yourself the  love you never got and start today!


Give yourself the respect they can’t give you.


I know it’s hard because you love them.  You are able to love the ones who continually hurt you.


But don’t confuse pity for love. 


When you pity them for being the way they are you cross the line into toxic empathy. And that’s about justifying their bad behavior and continuing to tolerate it in the name of compassion.


When you decide it is YOU who needs your love the most, your whole word changes. All relationships are transformed! You develop this unstoppable confidence and you stop getting ratted and shaken off your axis.


You deserve that kind of love. And I’m here to help you cultivate it.


If you want more information, please head over to www.LoveCoachHeidi.Com and let’s connect.