Do you sometimes find your relationship/s difficult, perhaps more than you think they should? Do you experience you and your partner going circles?
Or maybe you’ve been perpetually single and dating for years. “I know my soulmate is out there but cannot seem to find the one.” Maybe you’re jumping from relationship to relationship. Maybe you feel suffocated in the one you’re in. Maybe you feel like you cannot get enough.
I recently read a book called “Attached” by the authors Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. It describes an Attachment Theory with 4 types of styles.
1. Avoidant attached- You, metaphorically speaking, have one arm out at all times to keep a distance from your love interest. As much as you want and crave love and intimacy, it isn’t safe; so you wall up and guard up so they don’t get “too close.”
2. Anxious attached- Up until about last year, this was my style. Love and intimacy create anxiety and uncertainty. How you cope with that is by constant reassurance of closeness. You need all the words, touch, and love emojis to feel ok. If that reassurance isn’t there, anxiety ensues, and you cling for more.
3. Anxious/avoidant combination attachment- People in this style are either chasing or being chased. Love and intimacy are terrifying, but so is being without. It’s a spiritual push/pull tug of war. You start to go away and they pull you closer; you get too close and they will push you away.
4. Secure attachment- After deep deep consistent inward work, I am now in this attachment style. The title says it all… you feel secure in connecting with your love interests. You’re not afraid of heartbreak and rebound well if it does occur. You’re not pushing or clinging. There is a deep ok-ness within.
Your attachment style, by the way, is not inherently who you are. This is simply a learned style of behavior that you can change with mindful healing.
Before my former husband, I rarely dated. I had 3 short relationships prior to my marriage. These relationships were short, intense, and full of drama. Now, I am not a dramatic person; however these relationships were tumultuous and like a soap opera. Ugh. For me, they came with tremendous anxiety and fear of losing the person. Little did I know, I had an anxious attachment style going on (and looking back my ex’s had an avoidant or anxious/avoidant attachment).
When I met my husband, all the anxiety and fear seemed to magically go away. It was blissful, really. I felt relaxed (for the most part)…That is until my marriage ended and I started dating again. Cue anxiety! Fear! Constant thinking! What the heck?!? Why did I not feel this way with my husband?
After my divorce, my anxious attachment style was back online in full force. I was attracting men who were in avoidant or anxious/avoidant attachment styles. The book calls this the “anxious/avoidant trap.” I tell you, somehow we attract the people that will help us heal if we need healing (but we have to wake up to what is going on and choose to do so). Oh mysterious universe, what a pain in the butt it is sometimes.
If someone who is in anxious or avoidant attachment is with someone in secure style, the relationship can have its dramas, but the secure style of the one partner can help the other partner feel more at ease while meeting them where they are. However, people in the anxious/avoidant trap are going to frequently be triggering one another. One is trying to chase away the underlying fears of abandonment/loneliness while the other is trying to push away the underlying fears of being suffocated/engulfment. It can be real dramatic and no fun.
If you see yourself stuck in anything other than secure attachment, hope is not lost. You can totally heal and get yourself into a more secure realm. It does take awareness, choice, and action. I recommend the following tips for healing attachment styles that do not serve you.
For the person in avoidant attachment, he or she would benefit from:
· Addressing the roots of their fears regarding love and intimacy.
· Mindfully letting down their emotional guards and opening up.
· Practicing intimacy and closeness.
· Learning how love and intimacy do not have to feel suffocating.
For the person in anxious attachment, he or she would benefit from:
· Addressing the roots of their fears regarding abandonment and neglect.
· Mindfully implementing on emotional boundaries.
· Practicing intimacy and closeness with yourself.
· Learning how to love and comfort yourself (that goes for everyone, however this is especially a priority for someone in anxious attachment).
For the person in anxious/avoidant attachment, he or she would benefit from:
· Addressing all recommendations above.
After some deep inward work and taking time for myself, I was able to graduate to the realm of secure attachment. Being in the secure realm has been night and day difference in my quality of life. When I date, I don’t have anxiety around it. Just the good butterflies when it is someone worth having butterflies for :). I don’t need to know where it is going. I can own my needs with confidence. I am able to let go of those who I do not align with, regardless of how good our chemistry is. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel sadness or grief; however, I can feel those emotions, let go, and bounce back quickly. It doesn’t consume me thinking about someone else or being with someone else like it used to.
If you’re interested in seeing what attachment style you may be (or your lover/partner), feel free to take this quiz provided by the authors of the book, “Attached.” https://www.attachedthebook.com/wordpress/compatibility-quiz/
Our attachment styles can significantly impact our quality of life. If we are stuck in unhealthy patterns, it can cause us to avoid meaningful relationships, cling onto those that are unhealthy, or can cause us to be stuck in emotional rollercoasters instead of enjoying authentic connection and love.
Be mindful, aware, and know the life and relationships you desire are possible for you!