All relationships fall into conflict or distress at some time. The bond between partners begins to unravel. Given how little we have understood about love and bonding, it is amazing how many of us end up creating positive relationships and just how long and hard we fight to try to repair relationships.
In love relationships we can find ourselves estranged from or enraged by the person we were convince was The One and we now see as A Stranger or The Enemy.
We understand that this element goes back to early attachment styles from our childhood and what we are dealing with is the panic and the pain of separation distress and as adults we experience it the same way children do.
Feeling rejected and abandoned, we reach out, pursue, cling, and with the same anger and despair. Often we repeat as adults, our attachment styles formed as children.
A person's basic attachment style is formed in childhood.
We develop secure attachments when we know we can count on our main caregiver to be accessible and responsive to us. We learn to reach for closeness when we need it, trusting that we will be offered comfort and caring much of the time. This loving contact is a touchstone, helping us to calm ourselves and find our emotional balance.
We feel comfortable with closeness and needing others and aren't consumed by worry that we will be betrayed or abandoned. Our behaviors says, in essence, "I know I need you and you need me. And that is ok. In fact, it's great. So, let's reach out to each other and get close."
Some of us however, had early caregivers who were unpredictably or inconsistently
responsive, neglectful or even abusive.
As a result we tend to develop one of two so called insecure attachments.
Anxious or avoidant attachment-- that automatically turns on when we (or our partners) need connection.
If we have an anxious style, our emotions are ramped up; we are inclined to worry that we will be abandoned, and so we habitually seek closeness and ask for proof that we are loved. It is as if we are saying. "Are you there? Are you? Show me. I cannot be sure. Show me again."
If we have an avoidant style, we tend to ramp down our emotions so as to protect ourselves from being vulnerable to, or dependent on, others. We shut down our attachment longings and try to evade real connection. We are apt to see other people as a source of danger, not safety or comfort. Our attitude seems to be "I don't need you to be there for me. I am fine whatever you do."
Attachment styles line up neatly with the basic way we see ourselves and others.
These "mental models" shape the way we regulate our emotions and they guide our expectations in love relationships, assigning meaning to our partner's actions and becoming, "If this, than that." template for how to interact.
Secure attachment types see themselves as generally competent and worthy of love, and they see others as trustworthy and reliable.
Anxiously attached people tend to idealize others but have strong doubts as to their own value and their basic acceptability as partners. They obsessively seek approval and the reassurance that they are indeed lovable and not about to be rejected.
Avoidantly attached people view themselves as worthy of love--at least that is their conscious stance. Any self doubt tends to be suppressed. They have a negative view of others as inherently unreliable and untrustworthy.
Even in their stories and dreams, anxious people portray themselves as apprehensive and unloved, while avoidants see themselves as distant and unfeeling.
Some love relationships need professional help which enable couples to grasp the survival significance of a love relationship. Helping others see that all the moves they are making is crucial.
It is so important for couples to really see and realize what each is doing to trigger
their dance of disconnection.
To repair a bond and shape a safe haven relationship we have to do what securely attached individuals do and learn to turn towards each other and reveal our fears and our longings.
One of the finest moments is when partners finally disclose their worries and desires and engage with each other tenderly and compassionately.
Taken from the book, Love Sense, by Dr. Sue Johnson