Fighting & Fawning for Love

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 1-28-2022

“The highs, the greatest of highs.

The lows, the darkest of lows,

Feeling rainbows and butterflies,

the pain of fear, and lost control…

You love me? I know, I think so…

I’m not worthy? I guess not…

they love us, it’s all for show…

they hurt us, but won’t get caught.

You’re screaming, but I’m too blame?

Throwing things, but my fault?

It all feels… too insane…

I yell back, and then I’m wrong?

Losing track of how it began,

no sense in all past choices,

I should have kissed and ran,

but got trapped in, promising voices.

Chewed me up, and spit me out,

This rage… too indescribable.

Why did I not trust the doubts?

This end… was so damn probable.”

     I believe that one of the more common perceptions society clings to, is that everyone is properly and unconditionally loved and nurtured. Perhaps, not a true perception, rather simply wishful thinking on everyone’s part. A mother’s love…. A father’s love. It’s ‘supposed’ to be natural, reinforced and ongoing. What we should remember, is that not everyone is loved in this way. And, how we are loved and cared for has everything to do with how we choose and maintain our relationships in adulthood. For example, there is a huge difference between the behavioral developments of a child that gets loved unconditionally, vs a child that has to fight or fawn for love, and vs a child that gets no love at all.

       Healthy love, is in fact, a requirement for healthy development. Someone that is loved unconditionally without a million strings attached will be able to develop a very important thing for the human psyche: Self Worth. A parent or guardians’ healthy love will teach a child that they are worthy of healthy love. It will be an example that the child carries with them forever, even into adulthood. This particular adult will be able to spot terrible treatment immediately, and why? Because they were treated properly.  But, as stated above, what if the child has to work too hard for that love? What if the love only comes with dozens of conditions attached (In other words: CONDITIONAL). What if the child gets no love at all?

Fighting for Love

       The child- When children have parent(s) or guardian(s) that are dismissive unless the situation is dire, the child may be required to fight hard to get their doses of love and affection. This could look like tantrums, begging and pleading on a regular basis. This may look like urging parents to stop using drugs, because you know it will result in a version of themselves that hurts you. This looks like having to work insanely hard in school or hobbies, because they are not typically proud unless you are high achieving. This looks like early burnout, as all the hard work in the world may still not be enough.

       The adult-  A child required to fight hard for their love turns into an adult that is likely to over compensate. These are the people we often see as “high achievers” that are always on the go. An adult that has accomplished a lot, but never seems satisfied with themselves. An adult that is susceptible to getting in relationships in which they feel that they are put on the back burner, where they are low priority. Yet, they work hard in their attempts to ‘earn’ their partner’s affection over time. They are confident that they can fight hard for life and love, the issue is that… they shouldn’t have to. But unfortunately, easy love does not make sense to them. It is not built into their brain template.

Fawning for Love-

         The child-   When parents are abusive and unpredictable, a child may be required to be silent, and to keep the peace at all cost. The child may likely develop a ‘fawning’ response in which they must be excessively kind and catering to the parent(s) with the goal of not getting abused again. This will look like a child that’s ‘shy’ and ‘timid’, a child that excessively apologizes even when they did nothing. A child that has a freeze response whenever the parent(s) are upset with them. The child may become labeled a ‘pushover’ around the house and in school when confronted with bullies.

         The adult- A fawning child may grow to be an adult that continues the pattern of people pleasing. When in environments where the adult feels they are ‘walking on eggshells’, they may resort back to their fawning programmed responses in order to keep the peace. These are adults that do not possess the capacity of setting boundaries, or standing up for themselves. These are adults that may be more susceptible to falling victim to suffering abusive relationships with narcissists and sociopaths, as they are easy to manipulate. And what’s very unfortunate, is that these toxic relationships will feel very normal to the victim that has always had to fawn in order to ‘deserve’ peace and love.

No Love at all

         The child- Severe neglect, in which there is little to no love at all, will cause a child to suffer from heavy emotional instability. These children do not get soothed when crying, they do not get a sense of worth, as no one is making them feel worthy of anything. They will be forced to find their own way to feel better, with little to no tools. They will grow up confused and often wondering what their role is, if there even is a role at all that they play in the world. They may be on either end of the spectrum depending on how they were neglected, and where their psychological defenses take them: Disinhibited attachment (attaching to any adult without discrimination), or Inhibited attachment (inability to form bonds with caregivers or others).  

          The adult- The child may grow into an adult with an unhealthy attachment style: Anxious attachment, dismissive attachment, or a mix of both. These are the adults that often confuse, scare and/ or frustrate their intimate partners. They may cling, or they may ghost. They may have ‘roller coaster’ style relationships. Love is often scary and confusing for them, and they may be indecisive about how to give and receive love due to the fact that they rarely had love at all growing up. They may have compulsions to attach often and quickly, or they may isolate and fear relationships all together. The main difference is really this: When neglected, did you decide that love will simply not exist for you? Or did you choose to crave love and do anything to get it?


      My true goal is to help destigmatize those that suffer from childhood love traumas, and normalize that various forms of attachment disorders and maladaptive behaviors may form as a result of this. In mental health, the goal is not fault, and the goal is never to reinforce that anyone is doomed. The goal is to educate and empower. The goal is less judgement, and more helpful resources. The goal is awareness. As when my clients became aware of what was really going on with them, and why, they were then able to work on it and find better ways to navigate their life. Most importantly: Safety. Many who fall victim to unhealthy, toxic relationships may not understand what pulls them toward these types of relationships with such strong ‘gravitational’ force. Unfortunately, some people have to literally fight their natural instincts in order to NOT fall victim to abuse again.

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

4 thoughts on “Fighting & Fawning for Love

  1. OMG… you hit the nail on the head with this blog. If I only knew then what I know now about a lot the things you just discussed I could have save myself from much heart ache. I was abused as a child abused for several years as an adult and yet thought many of the things you just discussed; walking on eggshells, fawning, even trying to block the negativity from my brain. We need so many more people to understand we can break the cycle. We can overcome and never be victimized again. Thank you for words of wisdom

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was very informative for the unaware and down right moving in my soul 🙌🏾
    It take a special somebody to go to this depth in life to reach, teach, and help others ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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