Have you ever felt like you may be addicted to someone? Or that you couldn’t get them out of your head even though you know they probably aren’t good for you? What if I told you that your nervous system could be wired to find you the wrong person?!
So last time we talked about attachment styles and friendships. Today we will apply the same concepts to romantic relationships.
A couple of years ago, a woman at a party told me that she was still single because she had a fantasy that her ideal partner would show up like a romantic comedy movie. She said that she knew in her mind that was probably the wrong way to look at relationships but that it really was her fantasy.
That is exactly what I’m talking about when I tell you that your nervious system (your unconcouis phsyiological response) is steering your towards the wrong partners.
For whatever reason (could be family of origin, genetic, life experiences or more likely a combination of all of the above), some people end up with a belief that love should be stressful and complicated… hence the rom-com fantasy.
Think about it… Can you think of a single romantic comedy that went something like; they met, were polite, talked about their feelings, had healthy boundaries, met each other’s needs for support, progressed at a comfortable pace for both and lived happily ever after?
But happy relationships are not really like movies, they can be down right safe, comfortable and predictable. For people with anxious or avoidant attachment styles that can be really confusing because it doesn’t meet the fantasy or story they told themselves about what love really is so they come up with ways to sabotage.
The good news is you can change your perception. You are not doomed to be endlessly seeking the “perfect person” or pining for the one that got away.
There is no “perfect person” because perfect only exsists in movies and fairy tales. And the one that got away wasn’t right because either the timing was off or you just weren’t a good match for each other.
If you are ready to find your person (who may be perfectly imperfect), the authors of “Attached” suggest:
So, what’s your attachment style?
Of course, you should read “Attached” and learn more about how you’re attacking the wrong (or right) people and why... But it would probably be good took look and see where you fall. HERE is an empirically supported quick test to see where you fall on the spectrum. I dare you to take and see what you find.
As always, I’m here if you want to talk! 🙂
For some of us, romantic relationships feel easier than friendships. There is almost a more clear pathway to romance than friendship. We grow up hearing things like, “break ups are hard” and “they wouldn’t call them crushes, if they didn’t hurt.”
They tell us to be friends with EVERYONE!! But we don’t like everyone and everyone doesn’t like us. What Disney movie explains that?! With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Let’s Talk about the unsung loves and heartbreaks that leave us high or dry… our friends.
Do you remember your first friend? I don’t. I can tell you about my first love, he was blonde with dimples and big chip on his shoulder but I can’t tell you about the first friend I made. Maybe that’s because when we are little, other little people are fascinating to us and even if they steal our toy, the hurts are quickly and easily forgotten.
Do you remember the first friend that hurt you? Or the first time you were made to feel less than by a peer? That is probably a wound you could remember if you tried. And what did you tell yourself about that friend? What did the grown ups around you tell you? How does it impact your friendships today?
I have been reading "Attached.” And while it focuses on romantic attachments, I couldn’t help but wonder how it impacts our connections (or lack thereof) to friends.
Put simply, attachment theory is about how we connect to other people. The good news is that this is a plastic (or changeable) thing so if you have struggled with this in the past, you may not always struggle with it. There are basically three types as defined by “Attached”:
|Anxious||People who are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back.|
|Avoidant||People equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly trying to minimize closeness.|
|Secure||People feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.|
Keep in mind, these definitions were created to address romatic relationships. So it is important to note that you may feel totally secure if friendships or even certain romantic relationships, then you meet someone who seems to make you want to behave in ways that you never thought you could or would.
With anxious, perhaps instead of often being preoccupied, you are often find yourself feeling left out, separate or unsure about where you stand.
With avoidant, perhaps you feel like friendships are too likely to cause pain so you simply do not spend the energy on investing in people (even though you’re lonely).
Both positions seem problematic. But what do you do if frienship is scary?
First, if you haven’t read Seth Godin’s “Tribes,” I recommend it. He wrote it for people who want to create, lead and market (it is a quick and easy read) but I think we could apply a lot of his attitude in the book towards relationships. He basically says that if you believe in something, there are other people that believe in it too and your job is to find them and connect with them.
So following that train of thought... Do you believe in YOU? If you are the product, are you feeling good about getting it out on the market? Do you feel like the customers (friends, family, partners) have respected and/or been excited to see that product on the market?
If the answer is no. I have to wonder two things; are you getting the product (YOU) in front of the right customer and are you valuing it properly? None of us need a gaggle, hoard or a gang of friends but we do need friends. People to reach out to when we’re board, people to celebrate the good and share the not-so-good. But if you don’t believe in your own value, you will be more likely to tolerate the crapy treatment of others.
In a romantic relationship, we all of a preconceived notion about what that should look like. Most of those are probably a bit faulty but we have them. With friends, we think we should listen and trust them. And while we should be able to, yes, they have their on issues too and if we aren’t careful about who our friends are, we can get swept up into their messes.
And it sounds that way because it is. Someone we added to our lives ten years ago may have been the perfect fit back then. But now because of time, changes and growth (or lack thereof) they may not fit out lives anymore, or at least not the way they once did. That is no one’s fault. People change, life changes.
Perhaps, if we are struggling with our friendships it is because we have not been good friends to ourselves. There are people who would want to be close to you, who share your vision of friendship, closeness and life. And it is scary to put yourself out there and find them. Do you believe you are worth finding them?
As always, I’m here and would love to hear from you. How are your friendships treating you?