Knowing that attachments, early in life, affect the partners we choose, we are not in foreign territory when we find ourselves estrange from or enraged by the person we were convinced was "The One" and we now see as a "Stranger" or even "The Enemy."
We can understand that what we are dealing with is
the panic and pain of separation distress, and that we experience it the same way children do. Feeling rejected and abandoned, we reach out, pursue, and cling with the same anger and despair.
John Bowlby, is the Father of abandonment theory.
Bowlby reminds us that in love relationships,
"presence and absence are relative terms."
He points out that a loved one can be physically present but emotionally absent. Both as children and adults, we need a readily accessible and responsive loved one to feel secure in our bond. This point is captured in a common exchange between lovers:
"I am here, aren't I? Don't I do things for you? Then why do I feel so alone?"
Separation distress usually proceeds in four steps:
The first is anger and protest.
The second is clinging and rocking.
The the third step is marked by depression and despair.
And the final step is detachment.
We must not underestimate the naked force of separation distress. It is wired into our brains by thousands of years of evolution.
To repair a bond and shape a safe-haven relationship, we have to do more than simply stop creating distance. We have to do what securely attached dyads do naturally; we have to learn to
turn toward each other and reveal our fears and longings.
One of the finest moments is in therapy when partners finally disclose their worries and desires and engage with each other tenderly and compassionately.
Love Sense - Sue Johnson