Did you know that roughly 50% of people in the Western world have insecure attachment? Due to unmet emotional needs during our upbringing, we develop patterns to protect ourselves and seek the closeness and love that are fundamental human needs.
But what happens to those of us with insecure attachment? As adults, we often face challenges in our love relationships. We may not understand why things aren't working as we want them to.
This has significant consequences in our lives, affecting our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. We may even lose hope in love, and something within us feels lost. Deep down, we know how we want love to be, and when it eludes us, our souls dim.
We often believe that our problems stem from choosing the wrong partner or being unsuited for relationships. But that's not the case! We humans are wired for connection—it's part of our programming. If we struggle, we can learn. We can transition from insecure to secure attachment, provide ourselves with what we lacked as children, and relearn.
It's crucial to know that it's not hopeless for us; we simply need a few missing puzzle pieces that we can acquire as adults.
We are fortunate to be the first generation with access to this knowledge. There are numerous highly trained coaches, therapists, and psychologists who can guide us. Countless shelves are filled with books on attachment and love.
Hooray for that!
If you want to discover your attachment style, there are numerous self-help tests available. Here's an example of one we recommend. Take the test—it's a great starting point. Then, seek the assistance of experts who can help you gain a clearer picture of your attachment style.
Attachment is our love map, reflecting how and why we form strong bonds with significant people and our surroundings as children. It's an instinctive, innate way for us to survive. We all have this built-in system called the attachment behavioral system.
This system influences our lightning-fast (often unconscious) decisions for social survival.
How can I prevent being abandoned?!
We carry this behavior into adulthood, shaping the map we use in our love relationships.
In short, there are two types of insecure attachment: Avoidant and Ambivalent. Both stem from insecurity and (often unconscious) fear of intimacy but employ different strategies and patterns to protect themselves.
Avoidant: Someone with avoidant attachment desires a relationship but fears getting too close. When faced with intense emotions and intimacy, their strategy is to avoid the situation or person—hence the name 'avoidant.' These individuals often lack emotional language, making it challenging to connect with and express their feelings. They feel invaded when others seek emotional closeness and ask about their emotions or well-being.
An avoidant person is terrified of failure, seeking constant reassurance that they are enough for their partner. They avoid conflicts out of fear of making things worse, often withdrawing to 'save the situation' and the relationship.
Independence is crucial for the avoidant individual; not needing anyone means they can't get hurt. In relationships with someone exhibiting ambivalent attachment, they often feel their partner takes up too much space and is oversensitive. However, this is just another sign of their fear of closeness and intimacy.
Ambivalent: Someone with ambivalent attachment carries a core fear of not being lovable enough. Trusting that they won't be abandoned feels impossible. They equate intimacy with being left behind. This often happens to individuals who grew up with inconsistent adult behavior, where their needs weren't met on their terms but based on the adults' own needs.
Due to their difficulty with trust, they scrutinize everything their partner says or does, searching for signs of carelessness and lack of love. This also makes it challenging for them to fully embrace and appreciate the love and goodness their partner offers. Even when they do receive it, it's often short-lived before they need more proof of their partner's love.
Both the avoidant and ambivalent types desire and need love and intimacy, but they are terrified when it actually arrives. Intimacy equals the risk of abandonment or judgment.
So, how do we break these patterns?
There are no quick fixes; it's about creating safety. We achieve this by developing new behaviors and repeating them consistently.
The first step is becoming aware of your attachment style and learning as much as you can about its patterns. These patterns hinder and block the love you long for. You also need to recognize where you fall short in communication and empathy and work on developing these aspects. If you have an avoidant attachment style, you need to learn to access and express your emotions. If you have an ambivalent attachment style, you need to embrace vulnerability instead of focusing on what your partner is doing wrong, and see it as a sign of insufficient love.
These are just a few thoughts on our ongoing journey. Both of us have experienced insecure attachment, and our journey in love involves transitioning together from insecure to secure attachment.
Remember, we all have the capacity to move from insecure attachment to secure attachment.
Let's embark on this transformative path, cultivate love, and discover the joy and fulfillment it brings!