ERP 052: Save Your Relationship By Understanding Your Attachment Needs
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“In pondering my relationship issues, I wondered how much of it is related to childhood insufficiencies or lack of ideal parenting. In my search, I found an article about attachment styles. I found myself in the anxious insecure attachment style. l also identified my soon to be ex husband’s attachment style and my current boyfriend’s attachment style. What the article does not address very much is how do we overcome those needs that weren’t met in childhood so that we can be more complete adults now and therefore have healthy relationships.”
Years ago, I sought to answer this question in a research paper. You can read it here if you are interested.
Adult Attachment Research
Much of the empirical research in the field of attachment is based on the pioneering theoretical work of John Bowlby (1969/1973/1980). Bowlby’s attachment theory was founded upon evolutionary principles and developed from his research in observing the emotional and behavioral reactions of infants when separated from their primary caregiver. Attachment responses are designed to keep infants in close proximity to their caregivers, which help keep them safe and protected from harm. These emotional and behavioral responses are a part of the complex constellation called an attachment system. Any type of threat to the stability of existing attachment bonds is thought to activate the attachment system (Bowlby, 1969), and people differ systematically in the way they cope with distress and regulate feelings of security (Bowlby, 1973).
Another goal of the attachment system is to promote the sense of “felt security” (Treboux et al., 2004, p. 295), which is the perception that an attachment figure is both available and responsive (Bowlby, 1969). Sustaining this sense of felt security is thought to be critical for maintaining satisfying, close attachment bonds (Bowlby, 1969).
(These are Show Notes: Be sure to listen to the episode to hear stories, examples, and more tips.)
How To Earn A Secure Attachment Style:
1. Gain awareness of your attachment style.
2. Understand your attachment response is real and important. Many of us get frustrated with ourselves…wanting to be different and feel different.
3. Identify your attachment need. Sometimes this requires getting in touch with deep pain, which can feel extremely vulnerable.
4. Communicate your attachment needs in ways that move your partner to respond and work with you. Communicate in a ways that your partner can hear it.
5. (When your partner wants you to be there for them) Show up in a way that works for you. Most of the time we can’t show up because we are also feeling threatened, reacting, and in pain.
6. Work to prioritize emotional safety in your relationship.
7. Meet your partner in connection. Reveal deep vulnerable truths, see, hear, understand, and validate each other.
Yes, it is possible to heal attachment insecurities. It does take effort and constructive practice. If you are interested in getting support and guidance to work these steps, please contact me. I would be honored to help.
Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: Save Your Relationship By Understanding Your Attachment Needs.
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