Posts

Man And Woman Laying Down Head To Head Holding Hands - Why Attachment Styles Matter to Your Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

Why Attachment Styles Matter To Your Relationship


Man And Woman Laying Down Head To Head Holding Hands - Why Attachment Styles Matter to Your Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

Have you ever wondered why your partner always seems to want to escape when you argue? 

Or perhaps why you always seem to be the one trying to get them to stay in the room and make things better.

It might all be down to attachment styles.

Your attachment style matters because how you move towards and stay connected to someone is shaped by it.  Knowing more about your attachment style gives you an understanding not only of who you are and how you operate in relationships, but importantly, a better understanding of your partner.

Early Attachment

Above all, we all need to feel attached.  It’s part of our humanness.  Life begins in the womb with you being connected to your mother by the umbilical cord.

Your attachment story begins here and takes shape in the childhood years that follow. 

Buried memories of how your primary caregiver(s) responded to your needs, determine your attachment style.  Or to put it another way how safe and secure you feel in adult relationships in some way reflects how safe and secure you felt as a child.  

You may not be consciously aware of them, but the feelings you felt as a child remains with you into adult life.

3 Types of Attachment Styles

There are three main attachment styles:

  1. Secure
  2. Avoidant
  3. Ambivalent

Research has shown that most people, nearly 60%, have a secure attachment style.

But what does that mean?  

For the most part adults with a secure attachment style develop strong emotional bonds, have lasting and trusting relationships, are comfortable sharing feelings and are not anxious about the relationship. 

We tend to be familiar with one style based on our childhood experience. But you can find yourself behaving in other ways, depending on your partner’s style.

Please Don’t Leave Me

Picture this. You’ve had a great evening out.  All of a sudden a remark made leads to an unexpected argument with your partner.  Here are some common reactions from each attachment style.

Secure Attachment Styles:

You’re hurt, and you can see your partner is unhappy too.  You go home.  You’re still hurt, but you trust that it’s not that big a problem.  You know that you have a good relationship.  And like all relationships, it will have its ups and downs.

The next day, you talk about it.   You tell your partner how you felt about what was said and you, in turn, listen to what they have to say.  You work it out, make amends and get on with your day.  

Avoidant Attachment Styles:

You become guarded close down and have nothing more to say.  You want to be left alone.  The situation feels overwhelming, and you’re beginning to feel engulfed. The energy drains from your body, and you can’t think.  You might leave your partner sitting in the restaurant.  If you decide to say, you’re silent. 

The following evening you’re still annoyed.  Although part of you wants to, you think twice about reaching out to your partner, and you’re most certainly not going to apologise.  If your partner attempts to talk to you, you’re dismissive. 

Ambivalent Attachment Styles:

You go into panic mode.  You’re scared that the argument means it’s the end; he’s going to leave you.  

You start talking, perhaps too much, trying to stop your partner from leaving, even though they’ve told you their just popping outside for two minutes for some fresh air.  Then you start imagining the worse thinking he’s checking his ex’s social media profile, and you’re tempted to follow him outside.

You only begin to feel calm when your partner reassures you and tells you everything is okay.

A Childhood Story of Closeness or Distance

John Bowlby, an early pioneer of attachment theory, believed that early experiences in childhood are essential for influencing development and behaviour later in life.  Your early attachment style is established in childhood through your relationship between you and your parent or another significant caregiver.

So what do these attachment styles look like?  See what resonates with you.

Secure Attachment Styles

  • You’re comfortable alone or with others.
  • You know what it is like to depend on someone but can also take care of yourself.  This is because you had a warm, secure, and consistent relationship with your caregivers.
  • For secure adults, mutuality in a relationship is essential.
  • In adult relationships, a secure person offers support when their partner feels distressed and reach out to their partner for comfort when they feel troubled.
  • Your relationship tends, to be honest, open, and equal, with both people feeling independent, yet loving towards each other.

Avoidant Attachment Styles:

  • Your parents might not have been that relational, showing little care or nurturing.  One parent might have had a self-esteem problem or cared about themselves and what other people thought over and above you.
  • To be loved, you learnt to set aside your needs for that of the caregiver.
  • You struggle with intimacy because they are petrified of showing their authentic self.  Consequently, you can feel trapped if your partner gets too close.
  • Paradoxically, you have a real fear of being abandoned.  This anxiety can result in turbulent relationships

Ambivalent Attachment Styles:

  • You had some experience of a warm and secure connection with caregivers; the problem is that it wasn’t consistent. Sometimes when they wanted attention, they were turned away.  This mixed experience led to confusion; sometimes, you felt seen and sometimes not.
  • You tend to be insecure in the relationships, never entirely trusting their partner’s feelings towards them.
  • You can act in ways which only exacerbate the problem, e.g. becoming clingy, jealous or possessive.

Why Your Attachment Styles Matters.

While it’s not guaranteed that early attachment styles match adult romantic attachment, studies show that those early attachment styles can help predict patterns of behaviour in adulthood.  As a result, you can be curious about how and why you and your partner relate to each other.

Controlling relationships are not secure.

For one thing, typically they are characterised by anxiety and fear.

Generally speaking, controlling people fall either in the avoidant or ambivalent style. Even though the control might show up in different ways, underneath it all is the feeling of not being good enough for someone to sustain a relationship with them.

Understanding your attachment style helps you begin to appreciate how you behave in relationships and recognise why you are repeatedly attracted to certain people.  By the same token, it also allows you to start to challenge your insecurities and fears about yourself and relationships.  

If you want more information on attachment styles and relationships, a great book is Your Brain on Love by Stan Tatkin

Over to You

Are feeling controlled?  Perhaps you find you find yourself panicking and anxious following an argument and then rushing in to make things better.  If you want a safe space to understand, talk, figure out your feelings and understand your attachment style and how it impacts your relationship get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. PASS IT ON

Enjoyed this post? Then use the icons below to tweet it, share it on Facebook and send it to specific friends via email.

© Sandra Harewood 2019

About Sandra

Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship. 

Get my FREE guide The 7 Feelings You Have When You’re In Narcissistic Relationship + be on my list and be the first to receive my latest news, blogs & workshops for health, wellbeing and healing from narcissistic abuse.

Young woman looking through the train window with a serious mood - Echo's Story - How Living With Narcissism Affects You - Sandra Harewood Counselling

Echo’s Story – How Living With Narcissism Affects You

Young woman looking through the train window with a serious mood - Echo's Story - How Living With Narcissism Affects You - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

In my previous blog post, I wrote about the story of Narcissus and Echo to give you clues as to whether you are living with someone with a narcissistic personality.  If you didn’t read it click here to check it out.

That post was about understanding the modern day Narcissus.  Now it’s Echo’s turn and how living with narcissism affects you. Read more

A Woman Meditating Outdoors -7 Ways Mindfulness Can Make You A Better Lover Sandra Harewood Counselling

7 Ways Mindfulness Can Make You A Better Lover

A Woman Meditating Outdoors -7 Ways Mindfulness Can Make You A Better Lover Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

Hard to imagine that sitting quietly and focusing on the breath for as little as 20 minutes a day can improve your love life.

But hear me out, practising mindfulness can help make you a better lover and life partner.

First a little story.

A Mind Full Is Not Mindful

Recently, I was sitting on a bus my mind busy with conversations I’d had, conversations I was going to have, the friends I was going to meet and a whole lot more.  My mind was full.  When I got off, to my horror, I realised I’d left a bag behind.  A big, bright, heavy, orange bag.

It would have been easy to listen to an inner critical voice reprimanding me for what I had done. But at that moment, together with the usual feelings that come with a loss, I realised that I hadn’t been present.  Entirely on auto-pilot, and in full flight, my mind and body had parted company.  I did not feel, see or hear the bag drop.

Mindfulness does not clear the mind of thoughts but allows you to focus your awareness on the here and now, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.  

Mindfulness develops patience.  In many ways, we have lost our connection with the divine wisdom of nature.  We are so often in a rush and impatient, not giving space for things to reveal themselves in their own time.  Mindfulness allows you to be open to whatever is unfolding in you to do so in its own time.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Relationships demand patience.  Relationships demand it because sometimes you have to sit with the discomfort of the unknown; does your partner want to leave, can they meet your needs or just who is this person in your life.  Relationships ask you to allow your partner the space to recover after the hurt of an argument. And they require you to let your lover have ‘me time’ to nourish their souls.

Patience allows you to honour the mysteries of love and relationship which Thomas Moore describes.  Siting with the unknown can feel tense but ultimately will enrich your partnership.

2.  Understanding Myself; Understanding My Lover

A mindfulness meditation practice paves the way for you to become more intuitive about yourself.  As self-awareness grows, gradually you notice you’re more comfortable with who you are.  You discover that you’re happy in your skin and feel the acceptance, compassion, contentment and peace that comes from a love of the self.

It sounds cliche, but it’s true, loving yourself opens the door to loving and accepting others unconditionally.

Difficulties in relationships often occur because we’re not clear about our internal landscape or patterns in relationships.   Then we project what we don’t like about ourselves or get caught replaying past hurts with our partners. Ouch, that hurts!

When you start to pay attention, with compassion, to your imperfections, unawareness and unconsciousness something different happens.  As you begin to see love as a way of being present, not merely a feeling, you focus on being a more loving realistic person, partner and lover.

3.  You Grant The 5 A’s

In his book How To Be An Adult in Relationships, David Richo explores the five hallmarks of mindful loving.  For him, adult love is based on a mutual dedication to granting attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection and ‘allowing’.  These are the doorways to the joys and wealth of relationship.

What often gets in the way of granting the 5 A’s are fear, judgement and the need to control.  You cannot stop the mind from engaging in these thoughts, but a mindfulness practice reduces their impact.   You can take a step back, notice them and let them walk on by without fighting with them.  Then you can enjoy the closeness that comes with your partner from offering the 5 A’s.

4.  Help Affair-Proof Your Relationship

What a joy it is to watch a baby exploring and noticing everything for the first time.  Bringing a beginners’ mind to your daily life can help to free you from the tendency to see things through a veil of preconceptions and judgement.  Mindfulness fosters a beginners mind.

Be curious about your partner.  When you lose the mystery and curiosity, it signals to your partner that you are not attentive, profoundly engaged or concerned about them.  This loss of interest is often an accelerant to infidelity.

5.  You’re A Better Listener

How often do you hear the sounds coming out of your partner’s mouth but you haven’t listened to what they’re saying?  It’s easy to get distracted, either by thoughts about your reply or trying to work out the logic of what is being said.

Are you listening to understand or do you listen to respond?

A mindfulness practice cultivates deep listening.  How?  You already know that mindfulness allows you to be more patient, accepting and less distracted.  These are all excellent listening skills.

But what mindfulness also allows you to do, is expand listening beyond the ears.  You notice your feelings and the physical reactions which are clues to what will stop you from listening. And you might also tune into an empathic response connecting you emotionally to what partner is letting you know.

When your partner feels listened to, they feel more connected to you.

6.  You Spice Up Your Sex Life

There is a lot of scientific evidence to show that mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety.  You feel more relaxed and energised.  Fatigue and lethargy are not good backdrops for great sex and stress takes its toll on your libido.

A mindfulness meditation practice is so good for your sex life in many ways.  Self-awareness includes sensual and bodily awareness.  You become more connected to not only your own but your lovers’ body; the softness and texture of the skin, the curvature of the body, heat, moisture and so much more.  As you explore and connect with each other differently, this deepens sexual intimacy.

And as you are more present, you can fully immerse yourself and enjoy sensations as you detach from your thoughts and mental chatter.

7.  You Reduce Arguments

Being mindful you become less attached to holding on to the past and grasping an imagined future. Letting go brings you into the present moment and just notice what is.  And as you become more present you are more likely to see the colours, sounds, smells and richness of everyday life, be more positive and appreciative.

We often think that being mindful requires engaging in a particular activity like meditation or yoga. If you practice these activities in your day, that’s great, but there are also lots of other simple things you can do to be mindful all day long.  In the next post of the series, I’ll let you know how.

Over To You

If you want to explore how mindfulness can make you a better lover and life partner get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. PASS IT ON

Enjoyed this post? Then use the icons below to tweet it, share it on Facebook and send it to specific friends via email.

© Sandra Harewood

 About Sandra

Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and single women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create great relationships.

 

 

 

Teen boy with his feet hanging out of a car window - Teen boy with his feet hanging out of a car window - Childhood Wounding Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling Childhood Wounding Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

A Little Known Fact That Could Affect Your Relationship

 

Teen boy with his feet hanging out of a car window - Teen boy with his feet hanging out of a car window - Childhood Wounding Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling Childhood Wounding Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

We all have a past. It’s part of the unique story that makes you who you are. 

Being overly preoccupied with the past perhaps isn’t helpful; but there are undoubtedly important things from your history which, when worked through, can help you fully experience the present and look forward to enjoying a future filled with rewarding relationships.

I often notice with clients how difficult it often is for them to connect with any childhood wounding.

Telling the story can feel like a betrayal of a parent, particularly if they identify with difficulties in their parent’s story. For example, if the parent was ill, abandoned by a partner, suffered bereavement, or had their own history of trauma. It’s often easy is to connect with and understand the parents’ hurt.

But, what this means is leaving the experience of the child (you) out of the story. Read more

Scissors between a man and woman paper doll - What An Affair Can Tell You About Loss

What An Affair Can Tell You About Loss

Scissors between a man and woman paper doll - What An Affair Can Tell You About Loss

 

An affair leaves a trail of pain, hurt and guilt in its wake.  There’s no escaping that.

Infidelity is the ultimate betrayal.  Whether you stay together or not, an affair marks an ‘ending’ to the relationship.  All of a sudden, the spell of the romantic phase is well and truly broken.

That’s because betrayal threatens your emotional safety.  As a result, it shakes any sense of a secure attachment.  The anger and hurt emotionally split you apart.

Inevitably, things won’t be the same again. How you relate to each other, communicate, how you trust each other and how intimate you are all change.  Read more

Couple Throwing Colored Holi Powder at Each Other For Fun - 24 Ways To Be Playful With Your Partner - Sandra Harewood Counselling

24 Simple Ways To Be Playful With Your Partner – Part 2

Couple Throwing Colored Holi Powder at Each Other For Fun - 24 Ways To Be Playful With Your Partner - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

Last time I wrote about How Playfulness Can Help Improve Your Relationship. If you missed part one of the series of click here to read that now.

Two of the main reasons why couples in long-term relationships separate are boredom and lack of intimacy.  So it follows that play, enjoyment and fun are vital to keeping a sense of connection between you and your partner.

24 Simple Ways To Be Playful With Your Partner

Here are 24 simple things you can do to bring back playfulness in your relationship. Read more

A Woman Blowing Bubbles - How Playfulness Can Help Improve Your Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

How Playfulness Can Help Improve Your Relationship – Part 1

A Woman Blowing Bubbles - 7 Ways to be Playful with Your Partner - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

We’ve just had one of the hottest summer days here in the UK since 1979.  It brought back memories of childhood.  The chimes of the ice cream van, Fab ice lollies, getting soaking wet in the paddling pool at the local park and eating chicken on the beach with family.

Glorious summer; it’s a time for play! Read more

Rows of Different Vibrant Coloured Macarons - The Mistake Couples Make That Destroys Harmony - Sandra Harewood Counselling

The Mistake Couples Make That Destroys Harmony

Rows of Different Vibrant Coloured Macarons - The Mistake Couples Make That Destroys Harmony - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

Brexit is not only shaping politics; it’s influencing romantic relationships too! 

It’s a little under a year ago since that historic vote for the UK to leave the European Union. And as the negotiations get underway, it’s a time of change.  We find ourselves in challenging and uncertain times.

For some, this feels liberating and exciting.  At last, it’s possible to imagine the end of an unhealthy relationship and look forward to starting over.

Then again for others, nothing could further from the truth.  A security blanket has been pulled from under their feet.  And what was familiar for such a long time, together with their sense identity and belonging are now all at risk.

And there it is; difference.

A different point of view, a different way of seeing the world and a difference in how people are affected by events happening around them. Read more

Gold "THANK YOU" balloon letters hanging on the wall =How Showing Your Partner Appreciation Can Help Improve Your Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

How Showing Your Partner Appreciation Can Help Improve Your Relationship

Gold "THANK YOU" balloon letters hanging on the wall = How Showing Your Partner Appreciation Can Help Improve Your Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.  Eckhart Tolle

What was the first thought you had about your partner this morning?  For instance, was it

I so feel happy?

Wow, I can’t’ wait to spend the rest of the day with him?

I feel safe and secure in this relationship?

On the other hand, was it annoyance with the snoring, fed up because they haven’t brought you your morning cup of tea…again, cross about his messy pile of clothes on the floor or perhaps irritable following an argument the night before? Read more