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.
- 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:
- When he/she was ashamed for you meet their friends.
- When you were the most likely the victim of his/her insults.
- When he/she couldn’t care less about your emotional, or physical health.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Emily,who possessed an anxious attachment style, met an aspiring actor named David. She fell for him very quickly, but throughout the relationship, he gave her mixed reviews about wanting to be together. The lack of reassurance unnerved Emily and she began to obsess about him. She would constantly check on him and would spend hours tracking his whereabouts online and creating fake personas in order to chat with him.
Once she realized that he was actually the bad dude that she was trying to investigate, it took her a long time to leave the situation.
Why you may ask? Because of her attachment style.
Someone that has the anxious attachment style tends to be hypersensitive to anything that might threaten any intimate relationship. When that occurs, you will tend to activate strategies that will get, or remain close to your partner.
Some of those strategies are:
- Thinking about your mate any and all times of the day.
- Putting them on a pedestal:underestimating your talents
- Believing this is your only chance at love (i.e. I will never find another person like him/her or I will end up alone.
- Even though you’re unhappy now, they will eventually turn it around, so I better hang in there.
- He/She can change.
These thought processes can cause you to live your life in the danger zone in terms of relationships. Constantly living in this zone can cause you to behave in such away that can be toxic not only to you, but also your partner.
You will try and get their attention by acting in ways like:
- Staying in constant contact by e-mail, text, or simply running into them at odd places and times (i.e. stalking)
- Keeping score
- Acting hostile
- Threatening to leave
- Trying to make him/her feel jealous
If you are dating someone that possesses these characteristics and you are very interested in them, don’t mess with their heads early in the relationship. Reassurance is the key. You must be attuned to their needs in the early stages of dating otherwise you will expend more energy trying to maintain a sense of normalcy.
Has anyone dated someone that had an anxious attachment style? What things did you do to reassure that you were committed to the relationship?
In our next blog on Attachment style, we will explore why the anxious is attracted to the avoider!
Information about this blog comes from Attached – The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find and Keep Love.
I know you may be wondering, “Why I should ask a baby about my attachment style?” Why should I even care. For one, it’s about awareness. Usually when we go into a relationship, it’s based on an initial attraction, or a certain chemistry. When we break up, we don’t often analyze the reason. If we do, it’s usually based on extremes. Either, I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, sexy enough, or he or she just couldn’t handle what I was ready to give.
According to the book Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find and Keep- Love by A. Levine and R. Heller, our brain assigns our partner the task of being our secure base, the person we use as an emotional anchor and safe haven, the one we turn to in time of need when our relationship becomes serious.
Not knowing your attachment style can help hurt your relationship in these ways:
- Can positively or negatively impact being your best in the relationship.
- Can influence how you feel about yourself, or the degree to which you believe in yourself and whether you will attempt to achieve your hopes and dreams.
- Can help you remain emotionally and physically healthier and live longer.
If the partner’s you choose or if you are unavailable and not supportive over time, the relationship can truly be demoralizing and debilitating. It can stunt and/or stymie your growth for future relationships.
Since this blog is about strengthening relationship, I have attached the link to the survey by Dr. Chris Fraley that will provide insight to your attachment style. If you are dating or you want to be in a serious relationship, this will proof very insightful.
I took the test myself and fell in the “secure” category. I am sure PG is happy.
If you read my last blog titled How dependent are you? A case study!, you read the story of Tamera and Greg and how one was dependent upon the other. As Tamera continued to get close, he seemed to push her further away. She pushed him so far that even though they both loved each other, in the end it wasn’t going to work.
Everyone has what authors Amir Levine,M.D., and Rachel S.F. Heller,M.A. call an attachment style. The three attachment styles are THE SECURE, THE ANXIOUS & THE AVOIDANT.
As an adult you may know exactly who you are. If not, let’s go back in time by figuring out how you would’ve have acted as a baby.
Attachment styles were first defined by researchers observing the way babies usually( 9 to 18 months old) behaved during the strange situation test (a reunion with a parent after a stressful separation.
If you were the anxious baby you were extremely distressed when mommy left the room. When your mother returned, you would react ambivalently, you are happy to see her, but angry at the same time. You take longer to calm down, and even when you do, it is only temporary. A few seconds later, you angrily push mommy away, wriggle down and start crying again.
If you are the secure baby you are also visibly stressed when mommy leaves the room. When mommy returns, you are very happy and eager to greet her. Once in safety of her presence, you are quick to be reassured, calm down. and resume play activity.
If you are the avoidant baby when mommy leaves the room, you act as if nothing has happened. Upon her return, you remain unmoved, ignore her and continue to pay indifferently. This act of yours doesn’t truly tell the whole story. Inside you are neither calm or collected. In fact, your heart is just as elevated as the other two babies.
So which baby are you? Better yet, which baby is your partner? You will find out in the next blog?
Excerpt taken from Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find and Keep –Love.
For all you foodies out there, you take your kitchen to heart. But do you have the Magical Kitchen when it comes to Love. Here is an excerpt from Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Mastery of Love that explains what I mean.
Imagine that you have a magical kitchen in your home. In that magical kitchen, you can have any food you want from any place in the world in any quantity. You
never worry about what to eat; whatever you wish for, you can have at your table. You are very generous with your food; you give your food unconditionally
to others, not because you want something in return from them.
Then one day someone knocks at your door, and it’s a person with a pizza. You open the door, and the person looks at you and says, “Hey, do you see this pizza? I’ll give you this pizza if you let me control your life, if you just do whatever I want you to do. You are never going to starve because I can bring pizza every day. You just have to be good to me.”
Can you imagine your reaction? In your kitchen you can have the same pizza – even better. Yet this person comes to you and offers you food, if you just do whatever he wants you to do. You are going to laugh and say, “No, thank you! I don’t need your food; I have plenty of food. You can come into my house and eat whatever you want, and you don’t have to do anything. Don’t believe I’m going to do whatever you want me to do. No one will manipulate me with food.”
Now imagine exactly the opposite. Several weeks have gone by, and you haven’t eaten. You are starving, and you have no money in your pocket to buy food. The person comes with the pizza and says, “Hey, there’s food here. You can have this food if you just do what I want you to do.” You can smell the food, and you are starving. You decide to accept the food and do whatever that person asks of you. You eat some food, and he says, “If you want more, you can have more, but you have to keep doing what I want you to do.”
You have food today, but tomorrow you may not have food, so you agree to do whatever you can for food. You can become a slave because of food, because you need food, because you don’t have it. Then after a certain time you have doubts. You say, “What am I going to do without my pizza? I cannot live without my pizza. What if my partner decides to give the pizza to someone else – my pizza?”
Now imagine that instead of food, we are talking about love.
In order to master the track of love we have to move from trying to control the entire relationship when our relationship/marriage is operating on the track of fear.
We operate from the track of fear when we respect our partners, or feel our partners aren’t intelligent enough to know what’s good for them. So we take it upon ourselves to control what things are being said, as well as what actions they take. In essence, we try to control the whole relationship.
No matter how great your relationship may seem to you, the other person brings their own dream, their own perspective of the relationship no matter how hard you try to control it.
Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Mastery of Love, uses the example of a couple playing tennis together. If you are playing tennis, you have a partner, you are a team, and you never go against each other – never. Even if you both play tennis differently, you have the same goal: to have fun together, to play together, to be playmates. If you have a partner who wants to control your game, and she says, “No, don’t play like that; play like this. No, you are doing it wrong,” you are not going to have any fun. Eventually, you won’t want to play with that partner anymore. Instead of being a team, your partner wants to control how you play. And without the concept of a team, you are always going to have conflict. If you see your partnership, your romantic relationship, as a team, everything will start to improve. In a relationship, as in a game, it’s not about winning or losing. You are playing because you want to have fun.
So I ask you, would you rather operate from the track of fear and control the entire relationship, or operate from the track of love and enjoy it. When you move to the track of love, it involves giving more than taking. You will also have to take action when your partner tries to sabotage your relationship based on them living in the track of fear.
In order to live on the track of love remember to:
- Understand that everyone has their own dream.
- If you understand your own track of love versus your track of fear, you can clearly shift to the right track when you start to veer of course.
- Finally, which is the most important, no one else can make you happy! Happiness is the result of love coming out of you. No matter how many books you read. LOVE in action produces happiness.
Keith Dent is a certified relationship coach, and President of Strive 2 Succeed Coaching Services. Whether it’s a discussion about who to look for in a soul mate, how to improve my relationship, or a discussion about the opposite sex and creating healthy relationships, couples are looking for someone to acknowledge their issues and provide solutions. I have been working with couples for more than 3 years helping them to explore their passions and dreams in their relationships, and the necessary steps to achieve them. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions and appointments.
Don Miguel Ruiz in his book talks about how our lives are based on a dream and our dream is made up of emotions. The two main emotions we possess in dreams are fear and love. Most of us live on the track of fear rather than love. Living this way ultimately affects our choices and inhibit the mastery over our marriage. So how do you know if your relationship is based on the track of fear or the track of love.
Here are some clues:
Fear has a lot obligations vs. love with no obligations. We do something for our partner because we have to do it. We expect our partner to do something, but over time we begin to resist our obligations. In love, there is no resistance you do something for your partner because you want to do it.
Fear is full of expectations, love has no expectations. We do things because it’s a given, and we expect our partner to do the same. When those expectations don’t happen we feel hurt and we place the blame on our partners. In love, if nothing happens we don’t take it personally.
In fear you respect nothing, while in love is based on respect. Fear comes out in a couple of ways in regards to respect. If you don’t respect your partner, you will feel they can’t have a say in the relationship and you will try to control them. When you don’t respect yourself in the relationship, you doubt your own strength; your own intelligence. Love negates this type of behavior.
In you are on the track of fear, you are full of pity. You feel sorry for your partner when they aren’t strong enough. When you are on the track of love, you have compassion towards your partner if they fall. You prop them up.
On the track of fear you avoid responsibility. When you are on the track of love, you are responsible for your actions. When you try to avoid taking responsibility it only makes things worse because even non-action has consequences.
The track of fear is always unkind, while the track of love is kind. When you are living in a fear based relationship, you always feel like a victim, sad, jealous and betrayed. When you are in the track of love it’s always kind. The kindness makes you generous and opens doors to opportunities.
Fear is full of conditions, while love is unconditional. If you are on the track of fear, you will love the person if you are allowed to control them and if they fit into the image you create for them. In the track of love there are no conditions You will love your partner for who they are. If you don’t like them for who they are, you will find someone who is the way you like him/her to be.
In dating, or even early in marriage you never hear anyone say, I love him/her because they have faults. But in the 6th level of intimacy starts when faults, fears or failures begins to show itself in you, or your partner and impact the relationship. Your significant other might have already been aware of your faults, but the difference now is that you can admit have them and that you need help to overcome them for the sake of the relationship.
Some of the fears might include:
- Fears that we don’t measure up.
- Fears we won’t make enough money to enjoy it.
- Fears about parenting.
So how do we reach the level of intimacy with our partners? Take ownership of our faults, fears and failures. You can’t grow if you don’t show. By not admitting you need help, it slows down all aspects of your personal development;moral, ethical, and emotional.
We can also get stuck in the past and continue to make some choices that are detrimental to us personally and in our relationship. By admitting these issues, your partner can walk beside you as you make new choices that help you move toward your best self.
At this level we also acknowledge that we also have a dark side to our personalities. According to Matthew Kelly, author of The Seven Levels of Intimacy, states We all think, say, and do things that are inconsistent with he person most people think we are and the person we are trying to be. We all think things that are inconsistent with our core values and beliefs and the philosophy of life we are trying to follow.
We have to admit that we have a dark side or our dark side may overtake our lives the harder we try to conceal it. By exposing our darkness into the light in the loving environment of intimacy it allows us to strengthen and reduce the hold that our darkness may have on our life.
Finally we all have a past, and we should do our best to share it, our personal story, the good and the bad with our partners.
If by some chance your partner’s fears, dark side, or the past personally impacted you along the way you must have the power to forgive. Kelly says, “The ability to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity and so too, is the ability to ask for forgiveness.
In this 6th level of intimacy we have exposed our fears, faults, and failures which reveals not only who we are, but how we became to be. And you will give your partner insight on what you need.