In one of my earlier blog posts I talked about the 3 worst reasons to get into a relationship.
(1) Because you think you’ve found your soulmate
(2) Because you want to personally grow
(3) Because you’re attracted to someone
The common theme of each of these reasons to have a relationship with someone is that you are using your partner…either to complete you, to facilitate your own growth, or to feed your addiction for sexual or emotional intensity.
I had not come to see the full ramifications of this last reason when I wrote that post. I remedied that error here.
Reason (3) of course is a big issue regarding why people get into relationships and use each other.
Nature uses romantic love as a sell job for its own purposes.
In the post I mentioned at the start, I contrasted all 3 of these supposed reasons to get into a relationship with the real reason you should do so.
You should do so when you come to value someone for who they are and desire to experience sexual fulfillment and emotional connection that’s mutually shared and enjoyed with them as a result.
By now you’ll recognized this is my definition of romantic love.
While this is all pretty obvious once you see it, like many humans you likely have a proclivity for evading reality.
Especially when you think it serves your own interests or desires.
And if you can tack on a noble sounding vision to your evasions, all the better!
One version of evasion technique number (2) above, takes the form of recommended “treatments” for attachment insecurities.
Attachment theory is a very powerful paradigm for looking at your relationship challenges.
In fact there is a high likelihood your participation in evasion technique number (3) above is fueled by your insecurities, as identified by attachment theory.
Often you are attracted to people who trigger your attachment insecurities.
The theory goes something like this:
Through your childhood upbringing you developed either a secure or insecure style of becoming emotionally attached to other human beings.
Since romantic partnership is one form of such attachment, your childhood attachment style impacts your romantic relationships.
If you have a secure attachment style you easily trust a partner, share your needs without being clingy, and are comfortable being there for your partner and meeting his or her needs too.
If you have an insecure attachment style, you will either be anxious and needy in your relationship, or you will be unable to really connect with your partner and will instead maintain distance.
These insecure styles are discussed using different terminology, depending on the theorist discussing them.
Below are some terminological variants, along with the books in which they are expounded:
Anxious and Avoidant: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
Wave and Island: Wired For Love: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin
Love Addict and Love Avoidant: Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself The Power To Change The Way You Love by Pia Mellody
All three of these books is worth the read, but what I want to point out in this blog post is the differences regarding how each of these authors recommends healing your insecure attachment style.
The first authors say if you have an anxious style, you should find yourself a secure partner to be in a relationship with. With a secure partner your anxiety triggers will lessen more and more over time, as you find your secure partner is actually there for you.
These authors don’t offer the same hope if you have an avoidant style.
They basically tell you that there’s little hope for you, and advise everybody else to avoid you too, just like you avoid your partners in a relationship.
Just what I needed to hear. Healing isn’t possible for me!
If you discover you have an avoidant attachment style you can indeed change.
I did. And I can help you do that too!
The second author is more hopeful.
Tatkin says whether you’re a Wave (anxious style) or an Island (avoidant style), you can heal yourself by entering into relationship with a partner with a secure attachment style, or someone with an insecure attachment style, who like yourself is willing to work on changing.
I admit this is much more encouraging.
While recognizing it will be easier if your partner is secure, he also knows that if you have an insecure attachment style the likelihood you will attact someone who is also insecure is great.
The fact is, that whole “opposites attract” thing? It is largely driven by insecure attachment styles.
People with anxious and avoidant attachment styles attract each other like moths to the flame. I’ve talked about this before and will have occasion to do so many times again.
If you are already in a relationship with a partner who is insecurely attached, you will need to work from there, unless of course you choose to end the relationship.
Sometimes that’s not a bad idea.
But have you noticed the pattern here in all this advice about overcoming your attachment insecurities? These authors share the belief that the reason you enter your relationship is to seek healing for your attachment style.
Which is just a variation on the theme expressed in worst reason number (2) above for why you should enter a relationship.
The author’s of the first two books encourage you to pyranha someone with a secure attachment style, in order to personally grow past your insecure attachment style.
Unless of course you’re already in a relationship with someone insecurely attached.
In that case the first authors say run if your partner is an avoidant, while the second author says try to rally your partner to join you in the reclamation project, whichever insecure attachment style they have.
There are two problems with this advice:
First of all, you won’t easily attract a secure partner if you’re not one yourself, because securely attached people usually can indentify insecurely attached people in moments.
They usually give these kind of people a wide berth.
And if one of these unfortunate souls does happen to allow themselves to get caught in your wake, your own insecurly attached style has just as much likelihood of pulling them down, as their securely attached style does of pulling you up.
Duana Welch talks about exactly this type of experience in her relationship volume Love Factually.
She discusses attachment theory and how she was raised well and had a secure attachment style that became very brutalized by having relationships with insecure partners.
As you can see, what all these authors are doing is showing you how to trap your partner in a relationship with you, and not get caught.
To do so just couch your reason for trapping them in noble sounding terms like overcoming attachment insecurity!
The bottom line problem with this stated reason for getting into a relationship is, it is simply the wrong reason to do so.
To enter a relationship seeking healing for your insecure attachment style, is once again using your partner as a means to an end.
No! A thousand times no!
This is not love.
And love is the only reason to be with your partner.
And by love I don’t mean attraction. That’s worst reason number (3).
When you enter a relationship solely because of attraction, it is always fueled by your insecure attachment style.
Secure people find each other attactive yes. But that is not why they enter a relationship with each other.
They enter a relationship because they take the time to actually get to know each other and value each other for who they truly are first.
Once this happens they desire to be together because of this, and not just because they find each other attractive.
Baseline attaction is there, but it is not the driving force.
If you are insecurely attached you will be chasing dopamine hits.
When this is so, attraction will be the main driving force that brings you together with your partner.
I’ve said it many times but it deserves saying again.
The only reason to be with your partner is because you value them for who they are and want to share yourself with them.
But this suggests that unless you’re already in a relationship, you really should work on your attachment insecurities first, before you bring someone else into your life.
This is what the third author recommends.
Pia Mellody is part of the recovery movement known for 12 Step programs related to love and sex addiction.
I take a different approach than the 12 Step approach when I help guys overcome porn related sexual addictions.
But her analysis of the causes and cures of love addiction and love avoidance is sound.
The cure involves becoming complete in your own person.
Finding your security in yourself first.
When you were a child it was your parent’s job to help you reach this secure state.
Because they were insecure themselves, they failed to do so.
But now that you are an adult, you need to parent yourself. It is not your partner’s job to do so.
You need to work on your relationship with yourself.
Only when you are a whole person without someone else, can you securely enter a relationship with someone else.
Becoming secure means becoming an independent person who is alright being alone.
Fear of being alone is a central fear when you have an anxious or avoidant attachment style.
It stems from your fears of abandonment caused by your parents failing to love you as they should have.
You need to work on these things alone or find someone like myself who can help you work through them.
When you become secure in yourself, you will be ready to enter a relationship because you want one, not because you need one to heal yourself or to grow.
Then you will be loving your partner for who they are and not for what you can get from them.
What do you think? Are you ready to quit trapping your partners and work on your own healing instead?
Like what you’re reading? Sign up!