Lynn stared at her iPhone. It had been exactly nineteen hours and eight minutes since her date’s last text. She scrolled back to check her math and his pattern. His text bursts were at least twice a day, sometimes three. Never a gap more than seven hours, unless he was sleeping. And he always pinged after each date to make sure she’d gotten in safely. But last night he broke his rhythm. No text. No text this morning either. It was nearly lunchtime already. She reran the date in her head. It was a third date so things were getting playful. Had she teased him too much? Did she say something that hurt him? Was he running away?
Intent on getting back into communication, she remembered a silly bet they’d made during the evening. She’d bet that his morning golf game would be rained out. He had taken an optimistic stance against the local TV’s botoxed, perma-tanned meteorologist, and bet the skies would be clear over the first green. That was it! Lynn jerked around to peer out her office window. A spectacular September sun washed across blue skies. Perfect. The bet was for one cupcake. After a quick call to a delivery company to sail a cupcake and cute note to his office she relaxed, knowing his call or text would come within the hour. He’d have to at least thank her, right? The dude has basic manners.
At six pm, her stomach felt absolutely sick. No word. She called the cupcake courier and confirmed that the little temptation had landed on his desk at 1:30 pm. Back to her iPhone and more calculations. Four and a half hours, three minutes, forty five seconds. Oh god, had she been a fool? Was she so offensive as a date that he defiled Emily Post? Now she had totally embarrassed herself by sending the cupcake.she felt her chest tighten and her breathing quicken. Her fingers fumbled on her phone. She pointedly tapped one sand colored gel nail on the top power button and had half a mind to shut down and go off radio, just to show him up. But she couldn’t bring herself to miss his next text. Then with a giant sigh, she composed a careful text to inquire if he had received her little gift. It was her olive branch really because, clearly, they were on the outs if hadn’t connected with her in 24 hours. Her stomach churned and she could feel hot tears trying to escape from behind her eyeballs. But she was determined to appear calm and get him to communicate….
I wish I could tell you what happened to Lynn’s date. But as a doctor of psychology who specializes in human attachment, I’m far more interested in Lynn’s reaction to this brief lapse in communication with a stranger she’d met only three times. Why such a degree of anxiety? Why the self blame? Why the urge to turn the chase around and begin pursuing him? Why the inability to contain herself or remind herself how lovable she is? In this tiny rupture, a talented business woman with an MBA had morphed into an infant with critical needs. This is what psychologists call an attachment injury. Or, more specifically, an opening of an old wound.
In the next few months, you’re going to hear me talk a lot about attachment style. I’m going to explain how our attachment behaviors can bring us security or emotional and even physical pain. But most important, you’re going to learn how attachment styles can be changed. How your mind can be trained for healthy love. Keep reading my blog to learn more.