Love is the strongest emotion of all. Much of the discord around us is simply a lack of love and once you add love to it, it seizes to exist. Relationships are a perfect example of this. In my past work with couples, I have seen tremendous transformation not only in the relationship dynamic during couples coaching/counseling but in the individuals as well when we have done transformational heart-based work with attachment patterns. The ol’ saying is that our intimate partner will show us where our work is. The key is to see this as what it is-an opportunity to more deeply connect with the self and each other.
“When “I” is replaced by “We” even illness becomes wellness.” ~unknown
Love and Attachment Patterns
Are you looking for more love but concerned insecure attachment might be getting in the middle? There are four primary patterns of attachment in intimate relationships and one sure fire way of transforming frustration into harmony is through understanding where you both are in terms of attachment, both in the relationship as a whole and in the moment during disagreement. Attachment patterns can be consistent but also can vary according to different situations/triggers. This can be a wonderful exercise to unite you both emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually.
The great news is that we are all wired for secure attachment, however, sometimes perception of experiences in life can sway our attachment differently. Relationship is both an intrapersonal (self) and interpersonal (other) journey-what a gift we are offered. To be enlightened and to enlighten another. When we are secure in relationship, we are fully trusting and practice unconditional love. We do not hold our partner responsible for our happiness. We seek to not to blame, but rather to learn to understand more deeply. Time away is seen as a gift of self-love and exploration, rather than an aversion. True love, not fantasy, lives here. Each partner understands happiness in a relationship is not just merely laughs and smiles but rather happiness is working through the tears, adversities, and the unexpected with open hands and hearts.
In an anxious-preoccupied attachment, individuals are more likely to seek a fantasy versus true love; seek to be completed or rescued rather than doing the internal work that will confirm that they are already whole, as well as the external work that would confirm that relationships can be truly rewarding. When their partner does not behave as they expected or desires individual time, it is met with possession, control, and/or clinginess. As the name suggests, anxiety and fear are typically in the driver’s seat. A helpful hint for this attachment style is to do some work on letting go-old relationship baggage, fears, and control; to let go of the mindset of holding and make space for the wisdom of the heart.
This attachment style is characterized by emotional cut off and acting overly independent and unaffected by situations. An individual functioning from a place of dismissive-avoidance commonly holds in much raw emotion while portraying a poker face and saying “I don’t care.” There is commonly a fear of true emotion because of the fear of vulnerability as well as the perception that unconditional love and acceptance is not attainable. A helpful hint for this attachment style is to practice being fully present in the moment with one’s emotions without trying to change it, but rather be mindful and inquisitive of what the moment can teach. In the moment lies much truth.
In fearful-avoidant patterns, extreme highs and lows are commonly seen in relationship. Why? These individuals commonly seek relationship for security but simultaneously associate relationship with hurt and mistrust. As a result, you see the cliché phrase “Get away from me, but don’t ever leave me.” Intimacy struggles are prevalent here because when their partner is away, they perceive loneliness but yet when they are close, they perceive suffocation. A helpful hint for this attachment pattern is exploring the sources of balance (balance is the natural state of the mind, body, and soul) that are already present in their life and building upon these so one can approach relationship from their true wholeness rather than perceived lack.
Love is beautiful. Life is miraculous. Intimacy is a gift. You are a treasure. Embrace the present moment, everything you need is already right in front of you.
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“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”
~Henry David Thoreau