What prevents most people from being able to sustain romantic, meaningful relationships that satisfy their needs and desires? What are the factors that determine whether partners will end up experiencing love and fulfillment in their relationship or suffering, pain, and distress? This workshop helps answer these questions by providing participants with a theoretical model that integrates psychodynamic, existential, and family systems frameworks in a manner that can increase clinicians’ understanding of and ability to assist individuals in developing and maintaining intimacy in their relationships. In this presentation, I’ll explore the psychological roots of our fears about relationships and demonstrate how our early attachment patterns are often the root of these dynamics. Our fears of intimacy result from the influence of early childhood experiences and the (insecure) attachment patterns, or defensive adaptations developed to cope with our early interpersonal environment. These patterns of defense, which were once adaptive, are no longer appropriate in adulthood yet they influence our relationships from the partners we select to how we engage in behaviors that provoke our partners to treat us in a manner similar to how we were treated by our early caretakers. Negative and self-protective thoughts about oneself, as well as critical, suspicious attitudes toward one’s partner often drive the acting out of these behaviors that sabotage relationships. I will focus on problems encountered in couples therapy based on each partner’s resistance to altering basic psychological defenses that interfere with intimacy. Interventions that challenge these patterns of defense and lead to enhanced communication, more personal relating, and maintaining intimacy will be introduced. Helping couples modify their attachment patterns and challenge hostile and self-protective thought patterns can lead to lasting change. Methods will be explored to help individuals develop more openness and vulnerability to real love.