Insecure to Secure Adult Romantic Relationships | Making the Leap
So what pattern of relationship do you recognize in yours? And wouldn’t you want to be the Secure one or be with the Secure one? Or both?
John Bowlby gave them names. Collectively, he termed them,
- Secure Attachment –Securely attached adults tend to be more satisfied in their relationships.
- Anxious Preoccupied Attachment –Unlike securely attached couples, people with an anxious attachment tend to be desperate to form a fantasy bond. Instead of feeling real love or trust toward their partner, they often feel emotional hunger. They’re frequently looking to their partner to rescue or complete them.
- Dismissive Avoidant Attachment –People with a dismissive avoidant attachment have the tendency to emotionally distance themselves from their partner.
- Fearful Avoidant Attachment –A person with a fearful avoidant attachment lives in an ambivalent state, in which they are afraid of being both too close to or too distant from others.
(John Bowlby, 1907-1990, British child psychiatrist & psychoanalyst)
In Laslocky’s everyday language of loving relationships, they are manifest as:
Secure: “Being close is easy!”
Anxious-preoccupied: “I want to be emotionally intimate with people, but they don’t want to be with me!”
Dismissive-avoidant: “I’d rather not depend on others or have others depend on me!”
Fearful-avoidant: “I want to be close, but what if I get hurt?”
In briefer words:
Secure Attachment- Low Avoidance, Low Anxiety
Anxious Preoccupied Attachment- Low avoidance, high anxiety
Dismissive Avoidant- High avoidance, low anxiety
Fearful avoidant- High avoidance, high anxiety
Making the Leap
Feuerman, “The good news is that one does not have to be a victim of their past, unable to change or grow. For those who are less fortunate and do not have a naturally secure style, there is the possibility of “earned security”: developing a secure style through relationships and interactions in adulthood.
Security may also flourish in the context of friendships and psychotherapy, however, it comes primarily through adult romantic relationships. The strategy for creating an earned secure adult attachment style involves reconciling childhood experiences, as well as making sense of the impact the past has had on the present and future.
That is; it is imperative to develop a coherent narrative about what happened to you as a child. You also need to explore the impact it has had on the decisions you may unconsciously have made about how to survive in the world.
Earned security takes an average of three to five years according to the prevailing attachment literature. Getting married and becoming a parent are critical elements to shifting one’s attachment style. A good marital relationship is imperative to change your sense of security. Characteristics of a good relationship include both parties being mutually caring, supportive, respectful and loving toward one another. This, in turn, shifts the insecure attachment victim’s internal negative model. Our brains, thanks to neuroplasticity, begin to change as well. Then we can integrate these new experiences into our lives. It can help us trust that a reliable and consistent caregiver (like our spouse) will be there for us in our times of distress – the very opposite of what we may have learned in childhood.” (Marni Feuerman, Is There Hope For Someone With An “Insecure” Attachment Style? marriage-insecure-attachment-style, the spruce)
Laslocky: “Research indicates that about 50 percent of adults are secure in their attachment style—pretty good odds for finding someone out there who rocks your world AND is secure. Studies suggest that a positive experience with a securely attached person can, in time, override your insecure impulses.” She lists five ways to overcome attachment insecurity: 1.Get to know your attachment pattern.
2.If you don’t already have a great therapist with expertise in attachment theory, find one.
3. Seek out partners with secure attachment styles.
4. If you didn’t find such a partner, go to couples therapy.
5.Practice. Pillow talk just isn’t your thing? Make yourself do it,
(Meghan Laslocky, author of The Little Book of Heartbreak: Love Gone Wrong Through the Ages; article, How to Stop Attachment Insecurity from Ruining Your Love Life, Greater Good Magazine, Greater Good Science at U.C. Berkeley)
This is where Counseling on Demand comes in- Improvement of Attachment Styles.
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