Recent advances to science and research can help us understand why we react certain ways in relationship. We are social beings, and in need of various types of supportive relationships – these include partnerships, love and maybe marriage.
We have learned through decades of research that the style of our early attachments can affect our relationships later in life. By early attachment, I mean the way that our parents or primary caregivers related to and nurtured us in the first years of our life.
If we were lucky enough to have a secure attachment, where safety was always guaranteed, and explorations were allowed, its possible to feel secure in our selves as adults. Further, we can relate to others in the same way. It is hardwired into out psycho-physiology. We carry these patterns through our life as our expectational field or sometimes we call it our relational field.
Other attachment styles can be described as ‘avoidant attachment’. This is when caregivers have been unavailable, neglectful, or even nasty to the child. When these children grow up, they might choose to avoid relationships because of their early experiences of relationship being painful. These adults might decide not to invest any energy into being in a relationship, and thus become loners or on other ways develop a ‘commitment phobia’.
Ambivalent or Anxious attachment styles develop when parents are unpredictable in their way of emotional and physical caregiving. On one day they are there for the child and behave lovingly; paying attention and providing safety, but on other days they are not there emotionally, physically or even behave adversely to the child. Kids growing up in these environments could become adults who are overly focused on their relationships, and try everything to hang onto the other, for deep down they never believe that they deserve a loving, caring relationship.
Disorganized attachment style develops when the parent is chaotic or threatening. Coming from families with chaos and violence, kids with this style of upbringing can become adults who find themselves in similar relationships; chaotic and violent but unable to leave and move on.
How can all this information be helpful to you to have loving, safe relationships?
Usually if you look at your past, it will give you good information about what your future holds. Having a curiosity around what your attachment style might have been growing up might give you some information about why you feel that you can never commit to someone, or why do you have your focus on the other 24/7?
Some techniques to use are; looking into each other’s eyes softly every time coming home from work. Giving each other a hug when seeing the other after a long day. When leaving for work or zumba or football, let your partner know when you will be back. Taking responsibility for your own feelings and making your self secure instead on relying on the other to do so. One method of achieving this might be a breathing meditation practice that balances the nervous system, or practicing mindfulness. As an adult, you can give to your self all the safe and secure attachment that you may have missed out on as a child. You have a choice now!
If you would like more tips and techniques, please contact me.
Dr. Diane Poole Heller: Navigating the Labyrinth of Love; how attachment styles sneak into our adult relationships. SATE 2013.
Russel Meares: Metaphor of play.
Various presenters of NICABM Brain Science