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Category Archives: Attachment Series

The Secure Couple’s Guide to Conflict Resolution.

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In the final installment of the Attachment series, we will deal with the subject of conflict resolution. One misconception about marriages & great relationships is that these couples’ don’t have conflict. Quite the contrary! It’s not the that they don’t have conflict, they just have the right tools to handle it. According to Attachment researchers conflict can serve as a way for couples to get closer and deepen their bond, not drive them apart like in anxious/avoidant relationships.

Individuals have a distinct way to deal with conflict that could be helpful to individuals that have a different attachment style.

These five distinct practices can help diffuse and resolve conflict.

  1. Show basic concern for the other person’s well-being. (Our happiness is dependent on the other and vice-versa.)
  2. Maintain focus on the problem at hand. (When there’s a willingness to resolve a specific problem, people feel that they’re being heard and it brings both parties closer together.)
  3. Refrain from generalizing the conflict. (By keeping the argument restricted to the topic they avoid making disparaging remarks and blowing things out of proportion.)
  4. Be willing to engage (When you are both willing to stay and deal with the issue do you find a resolution that you can both live with and the process helps them be more in-tune with each other.)
  5. Effectively communicate feelings and needs. (Effectively expressing your emotional needs is even better than the other person magically reading your mind. By being an active agent it opens the door to a more emotional, richer dialogue.

Why can’t insecure couples adopt these practices.

Individuals who are anxious, or avoidants have several aspects that make it difficult for them to adopt these conflict resolution principles.

An anxious partner will have their basic concerns about their partners responsiveness to their needs about being rejected or abandoned. When a conflict arises, they experience many negative thoughts and react by using any behavior to get their partner’s attention. Their response is often dramatic, but ineffective.

An avoidant person is also concerned about their partner not really being their for them, but they will deal with concerns in a totally different way. They will suppress their need for closeness by shutting down emotionally and adopting a sense of independence. The more personal the conflict becomes, the stronger their urge grows to distance themselves from the situation.

Secure Principles can work for any relationship.

If you or your partner has an anxious/avoidant attachment style, you will have to work harder to make the relationship work especially when conflicts arise. Being centered on your own needs and hurts can cause a lot of trouble. You must keep these truths in mind when dealing with conflict.

  • A single fight is not a relationship breaker.
  • Express your fears! Don’t let them dictate your actions. If you’re afraid that s/he wants to reject you,say so.
  • Don’t assume you are to blame for your partner’s  bad mood. It is most likely not because of you.
  • Trust that your partner will be caring and responsive and go ahead and express your needs.
  • Don’t expect your partner to know what you’re thinking. If you haven’t told him/her what’s on your mind, s/he doesn’t know.

I hope that this series will help you restore your faith in relationships and that they shouldn’t be left to chance. Relationships are one of the most rewarding of human experiences above and beyond other gifts that life has to offer. If couples can understand that a mismatched attachment style can lead to a great deal of unhappiness in relationships and work hard to tend to each other’s relationship well-being, you will give yourself the best shot at finding deeply, gratifying love.

Coach Keith

 

Material based on the book Attached. The New Science of Adult 
Attachment and How It Can Help YOU Find and Keep Love.
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Attachment Series

 

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Effective Communication will cure past mistakes.

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You have now survived your break-up based on the tools give in my previous post, When the Trap can’t be escaped! It’s time to prepare yourself when you meet the next person, at a friend’s social gathering, or at work, even at a wedding. Stranger things have happened when it involves LOVE.

You now understand what your attachment style is, but to be fully armored for your next relationship and to cure your past relationship mistakes, this tool will help you be fully equipped. Effective Communication!

What’s the Purpose of Effective Communication!

Effective Communication serves several purposes:

  1. Will help you save time. In this digital age, you can get caught up and entrenched in someone else’s life adding a potential mate to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. With effective communication, you can determine whether your potential partner will be able to meet your needs. Asking the right questions and being direct about what you need to make a relationship sustainable. If a person is truly engaged about your wants and desires and chooses to put your well-being first, the relationship has promise.
  2. Identifying your needs to your partner gives the opportunity to meet them. Most of the time in relationships we always work to put our best foot forward and avoid telling our partners about our weaknesses. Identifying those needs up front removes the mask and allows your partner to reciprocate.
  3. Judge verbal and nonverbal responses. – it’s not always what your partner says that’s important, but what they don’t say that can help you understand your importance to them:
    1. Does s/he try to get to the bottom of your concerns?
    2. Does s/he respond to the issue at hand or does s/he try to duck you.
    3. Does s/he take your concerns seriously or does s/he try to belittle you and make you feel foolish.
    4. Does s/he try to make you feel better or is s/he go on the defensive.
    5. Does s/he only concerned about the facts or are they in tune with your emotional security
  4. If you are anxious, effective communication can be used as a substitute for acting out emotionally. When your attachment system is activated, you tend to do something to bring your partner closer to the detriment of the relationship. Effective Communication will help you truly address your relationship concerns. If you’re avoidant, effective communication will let your partner understand your need for space within the relationship whether it be emotional or physical. This will help assure your partner that it’s not about them.

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What are the Five Principles of Effective Communication!

  1. Being emotionally brave. Be open and honest about your feelings.
  2. “Need”, “Feel” and “Want” are your best friends. These words will be crucial to expressing what you will need from your partner.
  3. Be specific. Part of effective communication will require you to be specific in order for your partner to truly understand.
  4. Don’t play the blame game. If you focus on your partner’s issues, it will dilute what you are trying to accomplish.
  5. Be assertive and don’t apologize. Your attachment style is based on who you are. Don’t feel bad about that. Own your personality. It’s the key to your happiness.

If you use these tools effectively, you will be on your way to a strong relationship. Remember, effective communication is a process, your concerns and deal breakers won’t be solved overnight, but if your partner is concerned about your well-being and have taken your interests to heart. It’s a great start,

Coach Keith

 

Material taken from Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Amir Levine M.D.

 

When the Trap can’t be escaped. – Nine Strategies on how to Survive a Breakup.

In the previous blog we talked about being trapped in an anxious-avoidant relationships. Well, what if you can’t escape that trap? Sometimes you can try everything to make a relationship more normal and secure, but overtime the interaction between two attachment styles can become truly harmful. Unfortunately, in these cases, anxious and avoidant people can bring out the worst in each other, “Abnormal” becomes normal. So in order to regain normalcy in your life, exiting this type of relationship may be the only option.

Here are Nine Strategies that will help you survive the breakup.

  1. Ask yourself what life was like for you in the “inner circle.”  – Remember your life in his/her inner circle? It more than likely had some of these characteristics:
    1. When he/she was ashamed for you meet their friends.
    2. When you were the most likely the victim of his/her insults.
    3. When he/she couldn’t care less about your emotional, or physical health.
  2. Build a support network ahead of time. – Let your friends and family know what the relationship is really like. This may help you reconnect with the relationships you might have severed.
  3. Find a comforting, supportive place to stay for the first few nights. – You will need a strong support network to avoid the temptation to go back. Parents, siblings or your closest of friends.
  4. Get your attachments needs met in other ways.  – Find other ways to quiet down your emotions like a massage, plenty of exercise and your favorite restaurant.
  5. Don’t be ashamed if you slip up and reconnect with your Ex. – Don’t beat yourself up if you reconnect with your ex.  It’s important that you keep a level head because if you begin to feel bad about yourself, may cause you to want to go back.
  6. If you’re having a hard time, don’t feel guilty. Remember, the pain you are feeling is real. – Pain is inevitable in these type of situations. Your friends will try to get you to rebound quickly. Let them know you will heal in your own time, but you will heal.
  7. When you get flooded with positive memories, ask a close friend to zap you back to reality. – If you begin to paint your ex in a more positive light than it was in reality, give your friends permission to remind you.
  8. Play the game. Write down all the reasons you wanted to leave. – The goal is to deactivate your attachment system. The best way is to continue to look at your list to remind you of all the hurt  you received.
  9. Know that no matter how much pain you’re going through now, it will pass. – Greener pastures await.

I would love to hear additional tips on how you survived a break-up. Feel free to comment to add value to our Strivers.

Coach Keith

Material taken from Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Amir Levine M.D.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in Attachment Series

 

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Just the other day, a young lady contacted me about last week’s blog post, “Does your man make you feel trapped.” She was hype-ventilating as she was beginning to realize that her relationship had the characteristics of what I mentioned in the post.

The first thing I did was to get her to breathe, relax and tell her that all was not lost. Anxious-Avoidant relationships usually stay consistent over time, but they can change. Today, we will discuss how this type of relationship can be more secure. Here are 4 tips that can help lead your relationship to a more secure future.

  1. Model your relationship after someone in your life that has a secure mindset.
    1. Think of that person who gave you a sense of security.
    2. Remind yourself how they interacted with the world
    3. How did they respond in times of conflict
    4. What were the things they said to make people feel more secure.
    5. What did they choose to ignore or respond to.
    6. How did they behave when their partner was down.
  2. Become an expert at analyzing your relationship. – You will have to figure out how to reframe the state of your current relationship in order to move to a secure model. You will have to think about what are the situations that get you going, what shuts you down, your attitudes and expectations and how you can make adjustments to become more secure.

        In order to get started the both of you must create some alone time and think about all your romantic         partners past or present and write them down on a sheet of paper. The names of those partners will           go in column 1.

In column 2 you will write down what was the state of each relationship; what patterns existed; what characteristics stood out the most.

In column 3, what event(s) can you recall that either activated your anxiousness or de-activated your investment into the relationship.

In column 4, ask yourself how you responded to those events: What did you do? What were your thoughts? What were your feelings?

In column 5, which is the most important, describe what was your behavior as a result to the attachment issues you had? For example, you might continuously attempt to re-establish contact at all costs if you are anxious or always try to make your partners feel jealous if you have an avoidant attachment style.

In column 6, figure out how these behaviors hurts you or gets in the way of your happiness.

In column 7, what positive characteristics could you have utilized to move those relationships to a more secure one.

It’s now at this point you should share your personal inventory with a relationship coach, i.e. Coach Keith, your therapist, or a personal friend that can withhold judgement and honestly give you a different perspective on how to move to a more secure model.

3. The path to a more secure relationship is a continuous journey. Whenever a new situation or conflict occurs use the chart from previous relationship.

4. Learn to always accept disappointment or accept that your partner has certain shortcomings and develop strategies help strengthen your life personally. Such things as:

    • Admit to yourself that in certain areas, their mate is never going to be an active partner, and stop urging them to change.
    • Stop taking personal offense when their mate pushes them away and accept that it simply his or her nature.
    • Learn to do things on your own and don’t expect your partner will always join you.
    • Engage with like-minded friends in activities that their mate doesn’t want to participate in
    • Learn to be thankful for what your mate does do and not what he or she doesn’t do.

5. If those clashes continue to a source of intimacy collisions, and irreconcilable fights, it might be time to let go. 

In the next blog, we will analyze how these clashes can go from bad to worse and how to develop strategies to leave it behind.

 

Material taken from Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Amir Levine M.D.

Learn how to Escape the Trap!

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2013 in Attachment Series

 

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Does your man make you feel trapped without escape?

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If you are an anxious woman and you are dating a man whose M.O. is to constantly avoid intimacy it may feel like a trap without an escape hatch.

Consider this example, you are dating a guy for 6 months and you experience the same disagreements over and over. You are constantly complaining about his obsession with staying in contact with his former girlfriends on Twitter, while he can’t stand when you are checking up on him every time he goes out with his boys. He feels you have separation anxiety and are too jealous. He makes sure that you know it as well. And you know, he is right. You, as a person that has an anxious attachment style can’t control it when these feelings are activated.

Being in this type of relationship is like riding a stationary bike. You are constantly peddling, but going nowhere.When it comes to intimacy and closeness, you are dealing with opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to an anxious-avoidant couple. When one person, “the anxious” tries to get closer, the other “the avoidant” does everything in its power to squash those feelings. According to Dr. Amir Levine, author of Attached., the closer the anxious tries to get, the more distant the avoidant acts. To make matters worse, one partner’s constant need for closeness further reinforces the other’s need to pull away.The type of relational is a vicious cycle and they both remain in the relationship “danger zone”.

Are you in this zone? Here’s what your relationship constantly feels like:

  • indexThe Kinda Qa effect – you will never feel like your relationship is solid. When he decides that he wants to feel close to you, which will mostly involve sex, he will do so. This will activate your intimacy levels to a high level each and every time, only for him to pull pack which will leave the thrill ride over.
  • Be prepared for your self-esteem to take a hit. – In order to exert their independence and power, avoidants will say and do things that negatively affect your self-esteem leaving you feeling need and incapable.
  • If your relationship lasts, you will constantly question if the grass is greener.
  • You will fight about everything else except what you should. – All your fights will be about little things with the undertone of why we aren’t closer.
  • You feel lonely in the inner circle. – You will be dismayed why you are treated like a pariah, when you should be treated like royalty.

How these characteristics translate to your dating reality.

Even though you have fallen in love with this avoidant man, you will find that it’s almost impossible to receive the same love back without conditions.

  1. You will make concessions to the boundaries that are drawn – Your man will have specific rules that you will have to maintain in order for the relationship to exist.
  2. Your intimacy differences will spillover to every aspect of your shared life;from the way you sleep together to how your raise your kids. With every new relationship development the intimacy gap may get wider and wider.
  3. Conflict is often left unresolved to maintain the boundary. In order to resolve any conflict, both parties must create a certain amount of closeness in order to achieve it. While that a sought after emotion for the anxious, it’s uncomfortable for the avoidant.
  4. With every conflict situation you lose more ground with your avoidant man. As you try to reach out to reconcile with him,  he meets you with more hostility.

The trap without the escape continues and any hope of a normal, intimate solid relationship is washed down the drain.

In order to move toward more security, in the next blog we will provide ways for this type of couple to feel less threatened figure out how to activate/deactivate those core emotions to get out of the “danger zone”.

What are your thoughts on this matter? How has your man made you feel trapped?

Coach Keith

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Attachment Series

 

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Everyone can have Secure Partner! The question is do you want one?

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Before I met, PG there was someone in my life that I actually adored. I really thought that she was “the one”, and I never could figure out, why she wasn’t.

We are good friends to this day and she was able to find the person that was right for her, but with the invention of FACEBOOK,  I was curious why we didn’t work out? Simply put, she wasn’t ready for the type of relationship I could provide; stable, secure, BORING.

Everyone can have a partner that is very secure about the relationship. The question is, do you want that type of person in your life? In this age of reality TV, and constant news coverage, it may be hard to fathom being with someone who has a secure relationship style. Due to the lack of drama in their life, it can be perceived they are emotionless, even boring. Quite the contrary, if you have an avoidant attachment style, or and anxious attachment style, a secure person is exactly the person you should seek.

Here’s why:

People that are secure have Buffering Powers.

According to Patrick Keelan as part of his doctoral dissertation from the University of Toronto found that individuals with a secure attachment style are more satisfied in their relationships, but what is even greater about them is they are able to decrease their partner’s insecure relationship satisfaction level.

What you see is not usually what you get!

Individuals with secured attachment styles come in all shapes and sizes. The might be the life of the party, but also the biggest wallflower in the room. One thing is for certain, they can handle any relationship as if it’s by magic.

They possess these superpowers that other attachment styles just can’t master.

  1. Can diffuse most conflicts – during a fight, they don’t get defensive, and don’t try to escalate a situation by injuring or punishing their partner.
  2. Mentally flexible – not threatened by criticism and can revise their beliefs or strategies if necessary.
  3. Effective communicators – they are naturals at expressing their feelings freely and accurately.
  4. Don’t play games – They want closeness, so if you are down with that..Step up.
  5. They enjoy closeness  for what it is. – And aren’t afraid of it, which is difficult for the anxious if the closeness isn’t t their standards, or the avoid ants, who will bolt at the nearest indication of it.
  6. Find it easy to forgive – Feel their partner’s intentions are good, even when they mess up.
  7. They don’t try and separate intimacy and sex.
  8. If you are in their inner circle, you are treated as such.
  9. Secure in their power to improve the relationship.
  10. Responsible for their partner’s well-being.

You won’t have time to make up you mind.

A person with a secured attachment style will naturally gravitate toward those people who make them happy. They will not fall prey to the emotional highs and lows that plague anxious individuals and they will not project a false fantasy that you are “the one” and then pull the rug from under your feet when you decide to show your true feelings.

Because they are effective communicators, they will let you know how they feel about you. It will be up to you to determine if you are ready to go the distance. They will take the chance.

So if you  are one of non-secure attachment styles, you must decide very early into the relationship if you can handle that because they will not be around very long for you to make up your mind.

Don’t take Secureds for granted.

You make think you have hit the lottery, when you are able to finally have that secured stable man/woman that you have longed for all your life. But don’t be fooled, you will have to make a concerted effort to move to a more secure frame of mind, which will take some work on your part. You will know if you have pushed things too far, if your once secured partner has taken on the traits that you possess. Let’s hope that never happens.

What do you think about this topic? Have you ever pushed someone who seemed secure out of your life based on your attachment style? If you were able to get them back, how did you do it? I would love to hear?

Coach Keith

 

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To Avoid or Not to Avoid: 8 Tips You can do NOW to Learn to Love!

To avoid, or not to avoid! That is the question, for I have done it all my life because I just can’t meet the right person, or the person I do meet wants me to be “tied down” immediately. Oh, never have I reached down and searched my soul to determine if it was me that could not, would not love.

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That is about the change. These 8 tips will help avoidant attachment style individuals take that one step closer to achieving true intimacy instead of relying on severe loneliness, a major accident, or a life changing event to get you there.  Before you begin to practice these steps while you are dating or in a relationship, you will have to acknowledge and understand that you are avoiding love first before you begin. These steps will be a little challenging at first because  it will require that you live in the moment and acknowledge these behaviors in order to change them.

  1. Know and understand what deactivating strategies you use. – Look back and figure out why a relationship(s) ended. If you need to speak to your past boyfriends/girlfriends. When these strategies come up again, you will have to stop and think, “Am I doing it again.”
  2. Stress mutual support with your partner. If you have a partner that falls into the anxious category, you will have to work so you partner steps back and creates a more secure base, while you  work on not trying to distance yourself. Knowing your styles is crucial at this moment.
  3. Find a secure partner. – The more secure the better. It will mean less defensiveness, less fighting and less stress.
  4. Don’t always focus on the negative. – When you have a tendency to want to gt out of a relationship, you will focus on any negative behavior in order to get out of it. When you recognize this, remind yourself that your partner isn’t perfect and that you are choosing to live with them as part of what makes them special.
  5. Focus on what’s right about your partner daily. At any moment, you are ready to pull the parachute on the relationship. By focusing on what is right about your partner, will help shift your thinking more positively.
  6. Stop using your EX as a pawn! They have moved on. – When you are in a different relationship it easy to compare the positive qualities your ex to your current partner. The problem is, while you where in the relationship with your ex, you never acknowledge their positive qualities, so why do it now.
  7. “The one” isn’t going to fall out of the sky. A person becomes the one by choosing that person and actively engaging in their life and allowing that person to do the same.
  8. Focus on activities and not just emotions. Allow activities to fuel your feelings of love. By doing things together that you both like, will allow your feelings of intimacy to bubble to the surface.

If you implore these coaching tips, you will be on the path of love in no time.

Coach Keith

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Attachment Series

 

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