Episode 33

Attachment Styles - And What It Means For Your Relationship

Aired 03/01/2021

Do you know your attachment style? Licensed Therapists Laura Richer and Michelle Mooney will help you identify your attachment style and understand how it influences the way you connect in your intimate relationships.

Therapists in This Episode

06:52:25 Good morning to everyone listening. So today, Laura we are discussing attachment theory so what it is how it works and most importantly how can help you better understand why some of your relationships are challenging.

06:52:41 So at anchor light therapy collective, we offer a complimentary consultation to all potential clients who want to discover how therapy and my help them achieve their goals.

06:52:50 So just visit anchor light therapy.com slash get started to schedule that.

06:52:58 Fantastic. Well, as I mentioned to you before I am so excited to do this show, attachment theory is so helpful for anyone who wants to better understand their relationships in any aspect of their life, whether it’s their work, their friendships, personal

06:53:11 relationships professional relationships. It’s also especially helpful for people who are single and dating, I talk about attachment theory, a ton with my, my clients who are dating and so I’m really glad we could have this conversation this morning,

06:53:26 everyone who has relationships of any kind needs to know about this research.

06:53:31 So Michelle, can you they do. Yes. So can you tell our listeners a little bit about the history of this theory and how it all works. Sure. Well the route of attachment theory is it deals with how people for emotional bonds so the way a person learns to

06:53:46 form and maintain relationship, basically comes from their initial interactions with a parent or a primary caregiver during childhood.

06:53:56 So, rolling all the way back to the early 1900s this theory was originally developed by john Bowlby. He was a British cycle analyst who attempted to understand the intense distress experienced by infants who had been separated from their parents.

06:54:12 So he observed that separate separated infants would go to extraordinary lengths such as crying cleaning frantically searching for their parent to hopefully prevent separation and order to reestablish proximity to their caregiver or missing parent.

06:54:30 So he really believe that our attachment style sports and childhood and last, all the way throughout adulthood so he used the phrase from the cradle to the grave, essentially.

06:54:41 So, what attachment theory theory really asks us is the fundamental question is, is my attachment finger nearby, or they accessible, or they attentive to what I’m asking for what I need.

06:54:56 So if the child present perceives that the answer to this question is yes they feel love secure, they feel confident they behave well play with others.

06:55:08 Often these children and can be seen as playful smiling. If however the Oh the child perceives the answer is no.

06:55:16 They may experience anxiety, they’re likely to exhibit attachment behaviors ranging from simple like visual search eating of their environment to you know following agree vocals, sound they might have they might be vocally signaling to their parent to

06:55:34 get extra attention.

06:55:36 extra attention. So those are just kind of quick overviews and what where this theory all started. So, and it makes perfect sense, especially when we’re talking about children being frantic if they, they’re not getting the attention of their caregiver

06:55:50 or parent or if they if they if they’re absent in some sort of way because the child survival their physical survival is dependent on on their caregiver.

06:56:00 And what’s interesting is that even though our survival is no longer dependent on this we bring this attachment style, often into our adult lives in our relationships, especially in our romantic relationships.

06:56:14 And so, Bowlby has done a ton of research as well as other researchers over the year, and everyone is pretty agreed on the fact that there are three main categories for attachment styles and then there are some sub categories, we’re going to be talking

06:56:28 about a fourth one today as well.

06:56:31 So Michelle let’s, let’s tell everyone a little bit about these different styles that you can have an attachment. Sure, yeah. So I mean it’s it’s important to note that you know we’re all equally.

06:56:43 You’re uniquely individuals so you know how someone’s might early attachment style might affect someone more strongly than others but really, these are, this is how it all really boils down to so most people identify with one of these attachment styles.

06:57:00 So the first one is a secure attachment style so this is what we would all hope to achieve.

06:57:14 So this is an adult who likely has a positive emotional bond with their primary caregiver early in life, and they are comfortable in their relationships and have low relationship anxiety.

06:57:19 They feel secure when their partner is inaccessible to them and they don’t have a perceived relationship threat. When there’s conflict so you know if my partner leaves for the day I’m not going to be you know constantly worried if they’re going to reach

06:57:34 out to me. If there’s some sort of conflict, I’m not going to automatically think well the relationship is over.

06:57:42 So they feel deserving of love and they don’t feel that fear of abandonment, yeah so that’s what healthy attachment looks like and like you said that is what we’re all striving for and this might come a little more naturally to people who had secure healthy

06:57:59 attachments with their parents and primary caregivers early on in life. And, and for some people who didn’t have that experience you can still achieve having healthy secure attachment and relationships, it just might take a little bit of extra work so

06:58:14 someone who has heavily researched attachment theory is Sue Johnson she’s a clinical psychologist and couples therapist. She has written an excellent book on attachment called Hold me tight.

06:58:29 And she’s known for her work in the field of psychology on bonding attachment and adult romantic relationships and this is what she has to say about it.

06:58:38 For all of us, the person we love most in the world, the one who can send us soaring joyfully into space is also the person who can send us crashing back to Earth.

06:58:47 All it takes is a slight turning away or the or the head or a flip careless remark, and there is no close list without sensitivity. If our connection with our made is safe and strong we can deal with these moments of sensitivity.

06:59:00 Indeed, we can use them to bring our partner even closer. But when we don’t feel safe and connected these moments are like a spark in a tender forest, they set fire to the whole relationship.

06:59:12 And that speaks to what you just said Michelle that sometimes in relationships, if somebody is not securely attached to their partner, the smallest thing can feel catastrophic.

06:59:23 You know if you didn’t listen to my problem I had at work, I might jump to the assumption that our, our relationship is ending or if you need something for me I might experience the relationship is totally suffocating and want want to get away from it.

06:59:37 Yes, exactly. So, and what we want to do is give a little bit more context to our listeners so first I’m going to explain what an attachment wound is and what a trauma wound is so attachment trauma.

06:59:50 These are injuries that attached from traumas, if our parents were distracted, anxious, maybe they had their own trauma. Maybe they had their own mental health needs and they were unable to adequately care for our basic needs growing up so maybe food,

07:00:06 shelter, sometimes, but also things like emotional support so encouraging your child when they you know scored the winning touchdown and, you know, praising them for doing really well in school, things like that.

07:00:21 So, you also might have attachment trauma, if you’ve been shamed bullied or hurt in a social setting where you’re really under the care of adults still that are meant to protect you.

07:00:31 So, people like teachers counselor spiritual leaders, and when an attachment wound is its attachment and emotional wound that happens in an intimate relationship so with your romantic partner.

07:00:44 So this can happen after breach of trust, usually in a time of a moment of need or transition So thinking about. So you just lost your parent and your partner completely disappears, or there’s been infidelity in the relationship, this can really decay

07:01:01 trust which can really create these attachment wounds later on in life. So, and once an attachment wound occurs, it can lead one or both of the partners feeling betrayed or abandoned in some way.

07:01:13 And even if that relationship ends, the the wound is carried with the person to future relationship so insecure attachment is always rooted in these attachment traumas or these attachment was that I think it’s important to point out that even if you had

07:01:30 secure attachment with your parents and primary caregivers. You can also, as you mentioned, Michelle have attachment trauma through experiences like being shamed or bullied bullied by your peers, maybe early romantic relationships that that were dramatic

07:01:45 and also lead to these type of balloons so we just, we don’t have to blame the parents for everything there are other ways.

07:01:53 But of course it was all their fault. Yeah,

07:01:59 go ahead. Michelle.

07:02:04 I was just gonna say yeah that’s a fantastic point so maybe I had a really secure attachment with both of my caregivers, but later on in life I got into some really unhealthy toxic romantic relationships so that was that can entirely shift that attachment

07:02:15 that we have later on in life.

07:02:19 Yes. And so if you are in and I’ve talked about this over years, over the years on several different shows but toxic relationships have a long lasting effect so if you stay engaged in toxic relationships.

07:02:32 Oftentimes people will say well I know this isn’t a great situation but I’m waiting, you know, I’ll, I’ll leave when I meet somebody else or, I can’t leave this person because they need me.

07:02:41 You are going to be creating, there’s going to be trauma and wounds that are created through that experience so, and you might be dealing with it for years to come.

07:02:50 So that’s something to consider if you are in a toxic relationship, how, how long do you want to deal with this after the fact.

07:02:56 But as with all traumatic experiences.

07:03:00 It causes us to adapt to develop maladaptive coping skills and unhealthy ways of attaching. So now we’re going to dive into insecure attachment which is considered unhealthy attachment.

07:03:12 And let’s start with the avoidance Michelle, what do we know about them.

07:03:18 Right, so these are adults that are typically uncomfortable with closeness and they really value their independence within their relationships so independence is of course is always really good but it’s when it gets to this extreme level where you’re

07:03:33 favoring independence more than your relationship and if you’re going to be in a relationship, you kind of have to go. At least 5050 for most of that time so folks that have a an avoidant or dismissive attachment style.

07:03:47 They can fear or push away closeness. As a child, their caregiver might have been really attuned to their needs. So they learned that the only way I can have my needs met is if I do these as an individual, I can only depend on myself for my basic needs

07:04:02 but also to self soothe to, you know, really emotionally regulate on my own.

07:04:10 So that’s one of the reasons why you would push people away later in life is because no no I got this kind of thing right I get hurt I fall down. No, I’m okay right or, you know, paying a bill or something like this No no I got you know the complete thing

07:04:26 whatever it is really like I can take care of myself I don’t really need you. And something important to point out is, you know, these folks still want a close relationship they like the idea of, you know, having a you know a secure healthy partnership

07:04:40 but they’re just not able to for these reasons so they might come off to their partner is somebody who doesn’t care about them or really care about the closest in their relationship.

07:04:52 Again they might prefer not to be too dependent on their partner or have others depend too much on them so that’s another piece of it right if I’ve always taken care of myself, Why can’t you do it for yourself so please don’t depend on me too much.

07:05:07 And these people also tend to be again viewed as more independent.

07:05:11 So things like also later in life, asking for help from folks can be really hard, accepting help can be really hard. So, this can all feel pretty awkward.

07:05:22 Yes, and the. So I think the research says that about 50% of people are securely attached, and they primarily get in relationships with other securely attached people so they pair off, and then they’re no longer in the dating pool, 25% of the population

07:05:40 is avoidant however they are really over represented in the dating pool because they do not emotionally bond and so therefore they don’t sustain long term relationships, necessarily, and they might really the way they experienced relationships can be

07:05:58 that they feel that people are always letting them down, they, they don’t want to help any, they don’t want anybody’s help they feel like relationships are a lot of work maybe it’s not worth it.

07:06:07 They often feel like the people that they date are too needy or overwhelming or want too much from them.

07:06:14 And like you said, it’s interesting to note that this attachment style while it’s while they are often pushing people away because they fear emotional intimacy and closeness, they actually do want to be in relationships so this can be really confusing

07:06:30 if you encounter somebody who’s avoided in the dating pool they might be all in in the beginning and excited about dating you and, and, you know, talk about their hopes for relationship and then quickly withdraw once they start to feel that you’re moving

07:06:43 too close to them.

07:06:46 One more thing I want to say about that real quick, is they they fear that emotional closest not just out of like this sense of independence, which I was really focusing on earlier, But it’s also because when they feel closeness.

07:07:01 It’s very unfamiliar to them so even if it’s a good thing to be close to be emotionally intimate with somebody, they see this as something that is unfamiliar so therefore it’s uncomfortable so that would be another reason why we would push people away

07:07:17 if we had an avoidant attachment style right and and that’s really rooted in like you said early usually early, early childhood where your needs were not met, which was a painful experience and so people go on to adapt coping mechanisms, so that they

07:07:33 can meet their own needs and and not need anything from anyone but that actually can be a very painful experience as well, you know, and I also think that this style is more celebrated in American culture because we are an individualistic society, you

07:07:46 know, do it yourself, kind of, kind of people.

07:07:51 So oftentimes people will be proud of being a little more detached in relationships or feel that they are, you know, self sufficient. But, as human beings we are just wired to want to connect with other human beings and having blocks to emotional connection

07:08:07 can actually be a very painful and unhealthy experience, because our primary goal is, as humans is to survive right so survival such as I need to eat I need to breathe, but right underneath that is connection with others so it’s a very basic primary need

07:08:28 that we all have.

07:08:30 Michelle Have you worked with any avoidant clients or do you have any examples of clients who had avoidant tendencies.

07:08:38 Um, you know one client really comes to mind so this individual.

07:08:43 So this is how he developed a avoidant attachment style based on prior intimate relationship so he had been cheated on a handful of times, unfortunately, Each time he found his partner with somebody else so that created a real we’re talking about those

07:09:00 attachment wounds where there is that you know deep mistrust that happened right you violated the trust. So he went on to completely not even think about dating for the next 15 years, he just totally took a break because he learned it is too difficult

07:09:17 to be in relationship somebody who’s going to betray me somebody’s gonna leave me so really, what’s the point.

07:09:24 This individuals now engaged in dating against those pretty avoidant, but at least is putting themselves back out there and kind of trying again and seeing ultimately if he can find a secure relationship with somebody.

07:09:38 Yes, and it’s possible even if you’ve experienced you know deep betrayal, you can still work through some of these things and and find secure attachment, but I that’s such a good example of how relationship trauma people really carry that with them.

07:09:54 And this isn’t even about just being in a stubborn mindset like oh you know somebody’s getting worked out before it’s people have very physical reactions to to these kinds of experiences where their nervous systems are triggered and they feel like it

07:10:07 is a life or death situation, because when you were a child, it probably was a life or death situation you needed that caregiver to care for you but that that plays out in your adult life as well.

07:10:18 Right, right.

07:10:22 And so, Laura what would someone with an avoidant attachment style typically that you feel or what would be signs of somebody and adulthood, that has an avoidant attachment style.

07:10:33 They would probably be hesitant to really share themselves with anyone, they might devalue feelings in general, they might be more logical and in their, in their heads and feel that feelings are overrated.

07:10:47 They will create barriers to closeness with other people so they’re always they always kind of throw up obstacles in the, in the relationship, especially romantic relationships.

07:10:58 So maybe.

07:11:00 What are some examples I’ve seen over the years they, they will say, there’ll be hesitant to commit to relationships.

07:11:07 They’ll say that they’re not in marrying type, they’ll experience their partners as being very needy when in fact maybe their partners just have regular emotional needs like you know needing valid validation and and things that are not considered unhealthy.

07:11:24 They would do things like maybe they would tell you that they love you but they don’t want you to spend the night at their house they’re always, they’re always creating obstacles to closeness.

07:11:35 Yeah, I’m good. I’m yeah and do you can you think of a client example, do you have a client that sticks out in your mind that you can share with us. Yes, so I had a client that I worked with for a couple years, and she was extremely avoidant in relationships

07:11:53 and would really is to the point where she would just leave relationships without even telling the person that she was no longer available to them she would just drop out altogether and soon as anyone got too close, she felt so emotionally overwhelmed

07:12:07 that she would basically just ghost them.

07:12:10 She did eventually get into a relationship with someone, where she was still very triggered However, she found this man who was the most secure man I’ve ever heard of in my life, and her behaviors of shutting down and disconnecting and going away for

07:12:26 a couple days. Didn’t trigger him and so he just let her do that. And, and in that she was really able to let him move closer to her because he didn’t feel overwhelming, or threatening to her, and I am no longer working with her but as, as far as I know

07:12:41 she is still in that relationship, but that was a very interesting example and we’ll get into this a little bit more.

07:12:49 Is that certain attachment styles. Do not function well together. And so you also need to to choose a partner who, who can work with your, your the challenges that you might have.

07:12:59 So in this case this person was so secure that these, these behaviors didn’t really faze him there would be other cases where a person would be really triggered by those kinds of behaviors and those that those just wouldn’t work well together so we’ll

07:13:14 get into that a little bit more when we come back right now we’re going to take a quick break. And again, if you would like help in treating attachment loons or learning how to approve your improve your relationships, just head on over to anchor light

07:13:28 therapy, calm get started and schedule your complimentary consultation, so stay tuned we’ll be right back.

07:13:47 Alright, I’m clear.

07:13:50 So we’re 2245 2545 Okay, we got a lot of content and this one we can relate 22 minutes already.

07:14:01 This is normally the opposite where we’re like what that was only eight minutes.

07:14:08 We might not take another break we’ll see how it goes, because we still have a lot more here. Okay,

07:14:15 just mentioned it

07:14:18 totally fine. Michelle you’ll bring us back.

07:14:21 Okay, and then I noticed in this Skype we don’t talk about any of the social media at all is that by design because we currently aren’t doing social media, I saw Travis’s email this morning but, um, so I was just wondering if that was, yeah, don’t worry.

07:14:38 don’t mention it we haven’t updated it in quite a while so okay i know i know i like I didn’t mean last week, but I didn’t, I didn’t do anything for today’s show, I forgot.

07:14:49 So, but, okay. When we get back on track. We’ll start talking about that again however that please visit our Facebook page I posted it last year, content on there.

07:15:01 Okay.

07:15:04 I’m see here. Okay.

07:15:08 Come back in.

07:15:11 Yeah, I’m gonna stop Michelle. Okay.

07:15:29 Welcome back to holding ground if you’re just tuning in today we are talking about attachment theory and how understanding your attachment style may help better inform how you present in relationships, and what to do about it if you would like to serum

07:15:46 for relationships improve it.

07:15:48 Yes. So let’s get off to the next insecure attachment style we just talked about, secure attachment, which is what we all strive for. And then the next one was avoidant.

07:16:01 So the next thing that is considered insecure attachment is anxious attachment and anxious attachment is kind of. It’s the other side of avoidant attachment, it’s rooted in the same place that somebody may not have had their needs met in childhood.

07:16:20 And while avoidant attachment people will say well you know I didn’t really need you anyway I’ll take care of myself anxiously attached people have the opposite reaction they become very anxious in their relationships they, they have a lot of fear when

07:16:34 it comes to relationships they may experience extremes in relationship like I mentioned earlier in the show like, you know, a small conflict with their partner could feel like a threat that would be relationship, ending when maybe we’re just arguing about

07:16:47 doing the dishes.

07:16:50 And you know a child that develops this type of attachment style may have had a caregiver that was unpredictable or not available to them, which leads them to worry that they’re not lovable.

07:17:02 They can be easily frustrated or angered when they’re in relationships, and they feel that their needs are unmet, they’re often often the people who are referred to as needy or clingy.

07:17:16 So Michelle, do you have any anxious attachment examples you can give our listeners.

07:17:21 Yeah, sure. And one more thing I want to talk a little bit just real quick about the childhood piece so you’re talking about you know that clean a behavior so again that stems from our parents are carriers not being really available so these children

07:17:35 will tend to cry out more they’ll like attached to their mother’s leg for an example that sort of thing of like, Don’t leave me Don’t leave me right based on you, you may have left me so many times that I’m trying to keep you in close proximity so that

07:17:50 doesn’t happen again. And then we can see these behaviors replicate and adult attachment. So these would be folks that you know people who want to get close to one another but you know i’m not sure like oh are you even really emotionally wanting to be

07:18:08 close to me.

07:18:09 These are folks who want to constantly be around their partner. So we have to hang up seven days of the week, you know I have to have constant contact with you to reassure and reaffirm that you’re still in this with me so.

07:18:24 So things such as like, well, I’m going to text you five times a day, and you know to the extreme it can be like, Is everything okay. are you mad at me, you know, constantly checking in to make sure that that relationship is still there.

07:18:39 They are constantly worried how long the relationship might last so even when things are going really well it’s kind of like well but when is that other shoe gonna drop what’s around the next corner that can potentially, and this is what’s going to make

07:18:51 you decide you no longer want to be with me.

07:19:10 frequently enough, they quite really question whether or not their partner really loves them. They need a lot of reassurance like what I was talking about in that texting example of having to constantly check in reaffirm that the relationship is still

07:19:24 going on right that you still love me and care about me. Um, so they really don’t like to be alone, it can feel very uncomfortable and aloneness because that creates a lot of questions so Stephanie back to early anxious attachment style.

07:19:38 If you’re gone right mom or dad. When are you going to come back, are you coming back because they were left to question that for so long as children that really can follow us again into adulthood.

07:19:50 Yeah. So, a climb example you asked me about Laura is, I work with this client a few years back, who it was that kind of what I was just talking about it was like around the text a thing right so if it’s been three hours and I haven’t heard from you,

07:20:07 you know she automatically was thinking, Okay, did he die right and if he didn’t die and he’s still alive He must have decided he’s not you know in love with me anymore He must be mad at me that mad about me peace can come up a lot right because if my

07:20:22 parents was always mad at me, they my partner’s always going to be if there’s any amount of distance and the relationship.

07:20:29 So she’s somebody who really needed to be around her partner more days out of the week than what was really reasonable for their relationship. at that time, but really that just strong constant fear of this person is going to break up with me.

07:20:44 Yes. And it’s interesting with anxious attachment is a lot of times anxious anxiously attached people have different types of behaviors, they’re constantly testing the relationship.

07:20:57 So they may withdraw from the relationship when they’re completely overwhelmed by anxiety, they might experience like, like you said you didn’t text me back This must be the end of the relationship and so they’ll send off a text to to school their partner

07:21:10 and the relationship with them. So there are even though they really want validation and emotional closest, they are often engaging in behaviors that are sabotaging their relationships and so they are also highly overrepresented in the daily population.

07:21:30 And, yes, what’s interesting is you would think that well too anxious people might work well together because they have the same triggers. And so they might choose to date each other, and then to avoid people might work together be because they have the

07:21:42 same triggers so they might choose to each day each other and in fact that is not true. And I think this is where we get the same opposites attract is often anxious and avoiding people are initially very attracted to each other, and then they come together

07:21:56 and they push all of each other’s buttons, and we see so many examples of this in ROM coms and sitcoms and things like that. But for any of you who are friends, fans out there Rossen Rachel’s relationship was a good representation of anxious avoidant

07:22:16 pair interacting with one another.

07:22:20 And so, if you have found that you are in a relationship with someone who really triggers your anxiety that you have a physical response to to their behavior of withdrawing, there’s a possibility that you are in and like an anxious avoidant mix which

07:22:38 those two can be together but they will have to learn a lot about how not to push each others buttons Have you ever seen this work in relationships Michelle.

07:22:48 Um, well one thing that I suggest to folks who are interested in learning and their attachment style is to, you know, because we might not know you know some listeners today This might be the first time that you’re hearing about this theory.

07:23:01 So, If you can find some sort of evidence based assessment online where you can find out your attachment style. Then also have your partner take it. There are ways then when you both have that understanding to really know how to show up for one another

07:23:16 and not push one another’s buttons so, and you see this play out in terms of let’s say you have an anxious a partner partner, and you’re constantly seeking that validation and reaching out to your avoidant partner that avoidant partner is going to say

07:23:31 like whoa this is way too much this person needs too much for me. And then they’ll push them away the same way as if you’re avoidant and you’re creating that distance between your partner and they have an anxious attachment style.

07:23:45 That’s going to push their buttons in terms of where’s this person when are they coming back. So, this can be pretty common. But there are ways to work with that and the first thing is understanding your attachment style and having your partner understand

07:23:59 there so you can get on the same page and really figure out some coping strategies that work well for the two of you within the relationship.

07:24:07 Yes, and for people who are single and looking having a good understanding of your attachment style might help you be discerning about who is going to be a good match for you so if you do have more of an anxious attachment style, someone who’s extremely

07:24:22 avoidant is going to be very challenging to be in a relationship with and not that it’s impossible, but it’s going to take a lot of energy, it’s going to be very triggering you’d probably feel better with someone who had less avoidant behaviors and so

07:24:36 same on the flip side for somebody who’s very avoidant or who is avoidant if they’re, if they end up with someone who’s extremely anxious, that’s going to be triggering them all the time so they may also want to see people who have traits that are more

07:24:49 compatible with the needs that they haven’t relationship.

07:24:53 So, the last one we’re going to mention so we’ve covered the three main attachment styles which are secure avoid in an anxious.

07:25:00 But there’s another one which is a smaller part of the population that is called disorganized and this is about 5% of the population. And so, Michelle, tell us a little bit about disorganized attachment, what does that look like in adults.

07:25:16 This can look like a flip flop between the two avoidant and anxious. So this could be, you know, sometimes I have very anxious behaviors, I need you all the time but then I’m you know not getting what I need.

07:25:29 So now I’m going to push you away, or you know maybe I have more avoidant tendencies are going to push you away but when I’m ready to be close to you.

07:25:38 Where are you, where have you been so it’s really that kind of back and forth and a lot of ways, so they can have very intense and chaotic patterns of relationships because they are very unstable in the way they connect with one another.

07:25:55 So, and this can really develop again from childhood.

07:26:01 In terms of a response to childhood abuse. So, I’m sure we’ve all heard the you know the the examples of people who are being abused either by their caregivers or even romantic partners or later, later in life in toxic relationships where you’re being

07:26:15 harmed by somebody that is supposed to be loving you. And yet, that’s a person who’s supposed to be loving you. So I’m still going to try to attach with you.

07:26:28 And so, you know, it can come from childhood trauma such as things like you again are abusing me physically in some sort of way or you’re the person who always disappears.

07:26:41 But I also really am going to go above and beyond to be really close to you. So it can really create come from that childhood trauma but again those later on in life relationships that are also traumatic or abusive.

07:26:57 And I think that Hollywood loves to make movies about this type of relationship of two people who have all sorts of challenges are present is very broken and they have these chaotic experiences in their relationships and they hurt each other and they

07:27:11 come back and forth.

07:27:14 And then in the end it all works out, and they have their well deserved happy ending and in real life that it just doesn’t really work that way. I’m thinking about the movie, he’s just not that into you, and I can’t think of the name of the characters

07:27:30 but one of the characters the female character is extremely anxious and she’s really pursuing the male who is extremely avoidant, and then they have, and he continually hurts her and rejects her.

07:27:44 And then at the end, out of nowhere, he realizes that he made a mistake and then they live happily ever after and just realize that doesn’t work like that.

07:27:54 And one hour and 20 minutes, just flip a switch and your attachment wounds are healed.

07:28:01 But it’s interesting and now we talk about trauma bonding is that they, they kind that’s what’s represented a lot in media and movies and novels and things like that, is to traumatize people that are bonding because they’re playing out that their trauma,

07:28:15 their true you know what they’re familiar with and reliving their traumatic wounds, their attachment trauma.

07:28:22 But that is is marketed as romantic and I see that a lot with people where they don’t know what is healthy and normal and relationships because of what they’ve watched in in media and ROM coms and all that kind of stuff.

07:28:36 And so they can’t understand why their relationships are so painful even though all of these challenging behaviors are present.

07:28:46 Yeah, I think that’s a really good point that media in general kinda gives us a false sense of what real relationships are like so, children who grow up only watching things like Disney movies where you know the Princess and the friends get together at

07:29:00 the end of any movie regardless if he’s been a, you know, a violent beast, the whole time and then you know finally they get together and he magically is a human again and now they’re in love for the rest of their life so you know, that’s an extreme example

07:29:16 but if you’re watching this kind of content growing up, you kind of formulate in your head like wow this is what its gonna be like when I get a romantic relationship later in life and that really is just not the reality and if that is the reality in your

07:29:29 in your head, and it’s not matching what the reality and your external world is that can be a really disappointing circumstance for folks. So such a great example Beauty and the Beast, the romantic story but it starts out with him like holding her captive

07:29:45 so.

07:29:49 Right, right. That’s how all the best relationships, kidnapping.

07:29:56 Step number one.

07:29:58 I think I mean we can go through so many things that show that the you know i mean or, I always talk about pretty woman is being rescued by somebody that you’re really down and out and traumatized and in this case this one was a prostitute and a rich

07:30:12 man comes and rescues her and saves the day, and people sometimes are looking for that in their relationships because of their attachment wounds and worse they’re continually disappointed because as we’ve said these make really great stories but they

07:30:25 are not fulfilling life experiences when you’re actually living them.

07:30:32 Right. It’s called entertainment for a reason. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

07:30:37 Um, to give a couple examples of being able to identify disorganized attachment, either and others or within yourself.

07:30:46 Here’s some more indicators of that so again this chronic unpredictable or intense relationship patterns or behaviors.

07:30:55 Extreme theory act rejection coupled with difficulty to connecting and trusting one another.

07:31:01 Extreme need for closeness again so aggressive behavior towards caregivers or partners. So this can look like kind of just like violence out of nowhere, whether that’s yelling or, you know, more extreme forms of violence, fear in a way of their caregivers

07:31:20 or partners so you have such an anxious or such a avoidant piece of that attachment style that you really just fear your partner all together because of what they might represent these folks tend to have a really negative self image, low self worth a

07:31:38 lot of deep rooted shame, depression, anxiety and just feeling overall unlovable inadequate unworthy. And when this really gets to the extreme you can start to see how these attachment styles in particular just organized can present and things such as

07:31:54 personality disorder. So, such as borderline personality disorder, so that’s a real extreme end of aren’t organized, but those are some ways that can really manifest.

07:32:07 Yes, that’s a very good point I would say borderline personality disorder narcissistic personality disorder are all extreme manifestations of this but if you.

07:32:17 But that is what they look like and I think that these people, people who have some of these traits are also more likely to tolerate or exhibit really dysfunctional behaviors like so there’s could there could be a lot of jealousy in their relationship

07:32:35 so almost to the point of obsession.

07:32:38 They might feel loved or valued, you know, using Beauty and the Beast as example if somebody is holding them, holding them hostage or or stalking them or so all of these things that are really are unhealthy behaviors, they might actually experienced that

07:32:53 as positive as proof that this person really does care about them with it when in fact and even, you know sometimes physical violence so they did this because because they really love me or, or, you know, I just, I’m so important to them so that’s another

07:33:07 thing for people to watch out for none of that feels good in relationships.

07:33:12 Exactly. Yeah.

07:33:13 Well, Michelle This is such great information I’m so glad we’re having this conversation today let’s take another quick break and when we come back we’re going to talk about what you can do if you want to change or improve your attachment responses and

07:33:25 behaviors, so stay tuned we’ll be right back.

07:33:43 Okay.

07:33:47 We are at 41.

07:33:50 Okay, so about 15. No wait, how much yeah well you took another break so if you go on to like 1212. Okay.

07:34:00 I’ll do do that, if not 10 I mean 10 to 12.

07:34:07 Yeah, our trademark on talking about Disney movies, I

07:34:13 always want to be real careful, I don’t know, just as a reference we’re not putting right if we start quoting in his original idea. Yeah.

07:34:27 All right. Alright, so I’ll bring us back. Sounds good.

07:34:31 Alright.

07:34:46 Welcome back. Thank you for listening to this episode of holding ground today we are talking about attachment style so how you attach to your primary caregivers your romantic partners and learning what the styles are for you and what maybe your permanent

07:35:05 might be and also maybe what you can do to improve your attachment so that it is a bit healthier.

07:35:13 So a lot of our clients come to anchor light therapy collecting because they do want to improve or change how they attach and relationships they’ve had a lot of negative past experiences that are painful and they want to experience healthy relationships,

07:35:25 which is definitely possible. And Michelle as you know as a trauma informed therapist that treating past trauma including childhood trauma can really help people learn about what their triggers are and what types of people are less likely to trigger them

07:35:40 and maybe support them and making better choices.

07:35:43 Yes, exactly.

07:35:45 So, you know, kind of, you know, getting back into this idea of how attachment style influences throughout the rest of our lives. It’s really a function of our ongoing relationship so although there’s this idea of early attachment experiences might have

07:36:02 a very influential attachment style and road romantic relationships. Later in life.

07:36:08 That’s, again not always the case, it can move up maybe we’ll see that in earlier relationships really coming out and so we have experiences later on in relationships that show us that we can have secure relationships that we can trust so you know this

07:36:26 really the source and the degree of overlap between the sources are important so like if your primary source would be, again, what you had with your character verse early on in childhood.

07:36:39 And if there’s overlap into what your romantic relationships look like a lot later, you’re probably going to, you know, continue to have that same attachment style.

07:36:56 But, I’m sorry. I’m so but it is believed, however that you know again your attachment so can improve.

07:37:02 You know, so one thing to point out is we can have different attachment styles or connections with different folks in our lives so I’ll maybe our bond with mom is always going to be in an interest attachment style or maybe we’ve always been more avoidant

07:37:28 Lee bonded to our dad.

07:37:19 We can bond very differently to our romantic partners and also to our friends so that’s another thing to point out that attachment style also influences our relationships with our peers as well so the more times were shown like okay I can depend on somebody.

07:37:36 I can trust them, we really can start to evolve over time because of those healthier examples where then we can fall into maybe a more secure attachment style later on in life.

07:37:48 Yes, and so somebody for example who maybe is very anxious about relationships when they if they have the experience of being in a secure relationship, whether that’s a secure friendship or a secure romantic relationship that kind of changes the program

07:38:22 to understand that this is possible and as you have more and more relationships like that. You’re going to start to trust in your ability to have secure relationships more and more.

07:38:31 Initially, it can be challenging additionally for someone who’s very anxious or avoidant, even if they’re with a secure person they could still have those their buttons being pushed and get triggered.

07:38:42 Just because that’s what they’re expecting so it might not even be happening in the relationship because they expect it. They just experience it as happening until they start to trust in something different.

07:38:53 So I always tell my clients who are really anxious especially an anxious people I think are more are more likely to engage in therapy around this issue because they do really want close intimate connections and are very frustrated when they can’t create

07:39:08 them.

07:39:10 But when I’m working with somebody who’s really anxious I always talk to them about checking in with their anxiety is triggered and asking the question, you know, what is happening here I’m feeling anxious.

07:39:22 Is this something that is happening in the present moment, or is it something that my past traumas and for me, can I start to distinguish between the two.

07:39:31 So, If I am feeling very triggered because I’ve texted my partner and they haven’t texted me back within 20 minutes. That isn’t really something to be anxious about.

07:39:41 I could feel triggered though because of my past experience and so I don’t want to blow up my whole relationship. And with, you know, without doing some work to check in and learn how to really self soothe, that’s a big piece of it as well.

07:39:54 Yeah, yeah. And I love that you touched on that Laura.

07:40:01 Gosh. Sorry, I’m Benny Are you listening.

07:40:06 Yeah.

07:40:13 now so really teaching clients, you know, especially when I’m working with them on an individual level. This is why you have the behaviors you do or set, you know, a certain set of emotions that you do, it’s probably because of X y&z happened to you as

07:40:38 you were growing up so really just informing people like, wow, this is where this behavior comes from early on in life. Early on in romantic relationships.

07:40:48 So having people first understanding that this isn’t you as a person, it’s a behavior you adopted to cope with something earlier on in life.

07:40:57 So once you like you’re saying you give your clients education around that, then they can really learn to start to distinguish. Is this my early on trauma coming up or is this what my partner’s doing right now in the moment.

07:41:10 Yes, and Michelle you know as a trauma therapist, the treating past trauma itself with em dr therapy or other types of trauma informed therapy can also help resolve some of these reactions because they aren’t rooted in what’s happening currently and stuff

07:41:24 stuff from the past that needs to be resolved so if you want to engage in therapy to work on treating attachment loons, some of the work that you can do is, as I mentioned before learning how to soothe yourself, especially, especially if you’re anxiously

07:41:38 attached. Spend time getting to know yourself and what you really need. And that can help in being able to take care of yourself and then also seeking partners who, who are going to be a good match for you and what you need in relationships.

07:41:53 Um, it’s also good and this can be really helpful to work with a therapist because we get such conflicting messages, is to learn how to set realistic expectations and relationships.

07:42:02 Recognize that your partner may not need all of your needs and that if your partner has needs that there’s nothing wrong with that, but we want to have good healthy boundaries and expectations of what securely attached relationships, look like.

07:42:16 You might want to also if you’re anxious, be aware of overreactions that you have are jumping to conclusions again asking yourself is this rooted in what’s happening now or maybe something from my past, and then just get really patient with yourself and

07:42:29 give yourself a lot of grace and compassion because these are oftentimes deep rooted wounds and behaviors and it takes a little time to change them. So Michelle What about for the avoidance what can they do you have you have an avoidant attachment style

07:42:45 you can do is if you are single try and look for a partner with a more secure attachment and I think we’re talking a lot about the insecure attachment styles here but you know just because you have a secure attachment doesn’t mean you’re absent of all

07:43:00 of these other things we’re talking about right.

07:43:04 Yeah, it can be sprinkled in right here in there. So while I might have a really secure attachment style, or all, I might still get some anxiety when I have to say goodbye to you at the end of the weekend for example.

07:43:17 So these things can still crop up, even in a secure attachment style but they’re not the majority right they again might just be kind of sprinkled in, but to give some more examples of how someone with an avoidant attachment style can start to do some

07:43:31 work on themselves.

07:43:33 Practice identifying your own feelings so that can be something that’s hard for folks with an avoidant attachment style because, you know, at some point, they felt that their feelings didn’t matter right my needs become, You know secondary to what everyone

07:43:48 else’s needs are in my environment. My feelings don’t matter because when I would cry as a child mom never came to soothe me so clearly it doesn’t matter if I have emotions.

07:43:58 So those kinds of things really starting work on identifying those feelings that maybe you weren’t always able to promote it to, you know, so just starting to share a little bit more of yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, getting to know yourself

07:44:11 more as an overall human being.

07:44:22 Notice when you’re starting to push people away when connection is starting to feel uncomfortable, just start by noticing that and then over time once we notice we can start to change our behavior a little bit more.

07:44:28 So, practicing asking for your needs more directly asking for help and support so this might be incredibly hard for folks with a quite an attachment style because again they tend to be more independent and don’t worry I got this, I got it.

07:44:41 I’m fine, I’m fine, right. So, asking to ask for that help or asking to ask for that help and support can be very difficult but started started in small doses right so ask the coworker at work, you know they’re going to the kitchen hey can you grab me

07:44:58 a cup of coffee too or whatever it is start with little things where you start to see like, Okay, if I asked for help. People will respond to this I can only strengthen that course always consider working with a therapist either as an individual if you’re

07:45:11 already in a relationship where these things are showing up for you. You can also couples therapy can be very beneficial and being patient with yourself again that’s showing your love, self, you know love, compassion, being patient with yourself around

07:45:34 this being patient with your partner and remembering changes hard work, and it takes a lot of practice.