Tag Archives: Attachment. Romantic Attachment

FOR SINGLES: Are you in RelationSHAPE?

A Happy CoupleI wish I could tell you that love didn’t suck, that finding a great partner is as easy as it appears in romantic comedies and that all relationships live happily ever after. That, of course, is what others (read: Disney and Twilight) may have subtly impressed upon your beautiful mind.

But I see you there staring at your iPhone deciphering your date’s texts’ like tea leaves, and obsessing about why he doesn’t call. Or, maybe you are wondering how to get your boyfriend or girlfriend on the same page in terms of relationship definition. You want to know how to have the “what are we?” conversation without scaring them off.  I also know some of you may have moved too fast to bed with your current love, and now that the sex-high-chemicals have died down.

RelationSHAPE is getting in the best shape of your life – attachment shape. Finally, there are those of you who are just plain confused about what healthy love should feel like. Are all guys and girls really the bad boys and nad girls, or are those the ones you are attracted to? What all of you may have in common is an insecure attachment style.own, you wonder if this is even what you want. Should you be keeping your options ope

Everyone has an attachment style. Your attachment style comes from a unique mixture of your biological predisposition and your early life experiences with your primary caregivers. Until now, most of the writing about attachment style has focused on parenting but now more people are taking a very personal look at how attachment style plays out grown-up romantic relationships. And it is possible to heal some old wounds and learn to bond in a healthy way. To feel at peace with your relationships.

In my book, The 30-Day Love Detox, I attained permission to publish an attachment test, that until now, has only been used in clinical settings. When you complete the test, you’ll know more about your attachment style and I’ll help you understand what you can do to train yourself to bond in a healthy way. Yes, you can learn to fall in love instead of becoming addicted to longing. You can choose intimacy over intensity. In a nutshell, RelationSHAPE is mental shape for authentic love. And you can do this.

WATCH MY VIDEO: THE FOUR KINDS OF LOVE

FOR PARENTS: The Dangers of Baby Sleep Overs

baby-standing-on-his-bed-and-cryingIn this age where marriage and parenthood are increasingly separated across the social classes, many American babies and toddlers spend at least one night a week sleeping at the home of a non-custodial parent.

While this may be convenient for fathers who want a relationship with their children and single mothers who need a break, new research on attachment shows that young children who sleep away from their primary caregiver have an insecure attachment style with their mothers.

Attachment is a critical aspect of personality development and mental health. Having a close, enduring, bond with at least one primary attachment figure creates a blue print for love that a child will carry into their adult romantic relationships. And the younger the child, the more susceptible they are to attachment injuries that could lead to anxiety, depression, and mistrust of relationships.

This new research from the University of Virginia and printed in the journal Marriage and Family Health, shines a light on the dangers of even single overnights. Sleeping away from a consistent, familiar environment and mom, can cause a baby or toddler to have feelings of insecurity and have an insecure attachment with their mother. It also opens up the debate about how family courts dole out child custody arrangements. In deference to fathers rights, if both unwed parents want to be involved in the lives of their child, courts are increasing dividing custody of younger and younger children between two homes. But this research demonstrates that babies and toddlers would be better off seeing their father during day time hours and returning to a consistent environment for the night time routine.

It is important for adults to put the psychological needs of children above the needs of parents. Sigh. Parenting isn’t ever convenient.

Kate Gosselin: The Single Mother Double Bind

How can single mothers prove to the courts that they are the better parent when they are being forced to work hard to provide for their kids?


Single mother Kate Gosselin  is sweating it out working on “Dancing with the Stars” and her husband, Jon, has filed for full custody of the kids saying she is working too much and not available for her children. Never mind that he has gone weeks at a go himself, not seeing his kids while he shacks up with a morphing string of girlfriends.

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What Does Your Attachment Style Mean?

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In the last four blogs I have explained the complicated picture of our internal world of come-closer/go-away behaviors. Now let’s think for a moment about hook-ups, dates, and marriages. Who are the players that prefer a certain type of arrangement?

Might it be that those sexually adventurous, culturally progressive partners in hook-ups are actually emotional avoidant, dismissive, boys and girls who conveniently use the rules of a hook-up for their own inadequacies? Or worse, might the anxious gals and guys, go after the hook-up culture as a way to unconsciously live out their own trauma, again, and again? That is, they may painfully wait by the phone for the hook-up to call back and morph into a real suitor. These people are more likely addicted to longing than to comfortable feelings of love. What about those who date, maybe even live together, but avoid the big M? Could they be kind of fearful and avoidant? And, the marriagble types? Could the gazillion dollar wedding industry only be fueled by securely attached people? I don’t think so. If so, why do they need such a public display of committment? A cream colored vintage dress at a city hall might due as well, if it is really based on a secure commitment. But as you can see, there is much more going on below the surface, and sometimes paying a ton of money and getting married in front of a giant crowd, can be a sign of INSECURITY about love.

 

The first step in attachment style is to become aware of yours. I’ve included one attachment survey at the end of this chapter and there are many more online. Once you see where you fall in the spectrum of Anxiety and Avoidance, think about how that plays into your sexual behavior, your objects of attraction, and your relationship goals. Are you a hook up, a date, or a mate? And why? And most importantly, is your behavior vastly at odds with your goals, i.e. you crave autonomy yet you are attracted to smothering lovers, or visa versa.

The next thing to consider is that each partner in a given relationship has a different attachment style. There are a couple trends in attachment mate selection — like anxious lovers tend to become easily attracted to avoidant people because they live out their pre-programed pain. Let me explain that a bit. Once we survive childhood pain, we become familiar and even “comfortable” with it. When we meet a version of that same pain later in life, we become attracted to it because it reeks of something we know. Something we know we can survive. We did it once, we can do it again. But what about love, acceptance, and happiness? Let me tell ya, that is one scary propesition when it is a foreign concept. Take Richard, for example, a classic anxious attachment story:

I just got offline from an IM conversation with my friend Richard. He was bemoaning the loss of yet another much younger girlfriend who sent him to heaven with each sexual encounter and then threw him a hell of lies and insincerity the rest of the time. He kept wanting to analyse her. Why she would do this if she loved him so much? Was it the hurt from her last boyfriend? Couldn’t he prove to her that he could love her more? His love for her felt like an addiction. He was missing her so much that I could feel his pain. But the word he kept asking was WHY. I told him to accept what is, not ask why, and just sit with his pain for awhile. He wasn’t prepared to entertain that thought for one minute. He was like a junkie jumping out of his skin, wishing for his lost love, or a new girlfriend, or a posse of buddies, or even for me to come over and share a bottle of wine. My heart broke for him. This man couldn’t be alone for one minute because — we eventually talked about this — alone with his thoughts meant feeling lonely and unlovable. And that is the place where the wild things are. That is the place we all must visit if we are to become whole. Of course, the best place to say hello to our wild things is in the safety of a therapist’s office. There in a trust-filled environment, we can become the sad baby who we have trouble showing to a lover. The sad baby who has no place in an adult love relationship anyway.

Three Healing Relationships

The good news about attachment injuries is this: Despite John Bowlby’s dire prediction that attachment injuries are permanent, today’s attachment theorists say that attachment style can change during the lifespan — for better or worse. But let’s talk about the better side. Psychologists have identified three relationships that have the power to heal the damaged child within us. The most obvious, of course, is a therapeutic relationship. In the safety of a private and confidential dyad, a therapist can become a container for our most shameful memories and thoughts, and a presence whose consistency can help rewire our brain. The infant inside can imagine that “mommy” will always be wise, stalwart and compassionate — every Tuesday at 3 pm. Consistency is one mechanism for healing.

Another valuable relationship is the one we can have with our own children. If we are able to break the family cycle of family dysfunction and parent our children the way we wished we had been, both parent and child can benefit. Freud called this psychic defense from pain, sublimation. He felt sublimation was one of the most functional ways to deal with emotional injury –  redirecting pain and helping others avoid a similar fate. But the secret mechanism here the very words parents use. Every time a parent encourages, soothes, and assures a young child, words echo in the adult’s head like a long lost parent. Through our ability to give love, we are soothing and consoling ourselves at the same time. It’s really amazing.

Finally, Psychologists give credit to the marital relationship as a powerful healer. If we are fortunate enough to choose a partner who has an ability to fill in some of the gaps of our childhood, we can be fortified. Too often, though, people have a “compulsion to repeat” and we choose the very pattern that injured us in the first place. At other times, even a relatively happy adult relationship can feel absolutely terrifying, especially if happiness and caring is something foreign to the child within us. I encourage you to take some emotional risks in your relationships. To look closely at your tendency to recoil from care or withhold affection — because authentic love can feel scary. Authentic love is not a perpetual happy place, but it is a home for the heart, one that creaks with age, and burns with an internal fire. Love is the thing that makes us whole.

 

Why Are There No Grooms Magazines?

10424_149031071833_115788661833_3401174_872087_aWhy Are There No Grooms Magazines?

It’s no secret that men in general have a hard time committing. Few men grow up with the life-long dream of walking down the isle with a bride. At eighteen, they don’t fantasize about the perfect tux and the most romantic wedding. Not only are men jittery about the idea of weddings but many are phobic about the whole commitment thing in any form. Many don’t really want to be boyfriends either.

There’s a little history to commitment phobia too. Way back when marriage was primarily an economic union, it was a fair exchange. Men had the money. Women had the womb and the housekeeping skills. No matter that many believe it was a kind of prison for women, from a man’s perspective, it was also a prison for them — a place where someone ELSE spent most of their money. A place where expensive children kept appearing. A place where there was pressure to produce much more than food on the table. After all, we saw a lot of cute material goods at those quilting bees and often came home with, “Honey, the Jones’ have a new dishwasher, second car, vacation home etc.” We expected him to help us keep up with them. That’s a lot of pressure for one guy.

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