Spending time together as a couple away from other distractions is good for your relationship. Date nights can help you increase your intimacy, passion, and couple connection. When life gets hectic and work, children, and other commitments demand more of your time, you might be tempted to stop going on date nights. However, making a commitment with your spouse to go on regular date nights together can help keep your relationship strong.
Why Go On Dates
Committing to regular date nights can strengthen your relationship and can help deepen your emotional intimacy. Over time, it can be easy to fall into a routine in your daily life and your relationship. Work, kids, and social engagements can keep you quite busy. It might seem as though most of your conversations are about your schedules. While this can be common in relationships, you could begin to take your partner for granted. In order to keep your relationship strong, you need to spend time focusing on each other. When you agree to weekly date nights, you know you will have a set time to work on your marriage and communication and keep your connection strong. Below are some date night ideas to get you started.
Establish Ground Rules
To make sure that your date night gets off to a good start, you will want to establish some ground rules. For instance, if most of your conversations revolve around your children, you can make a pact not to discuss the kids on your date. You could do this with any topic that you discuss often or that you fight about. This will force you to switch up the conversation. It will be helpful to decide who is going to plan the date, who will get the sitter, and who will make the reservations. Taking turns with these tasks is always a good option. You can establish rules around phone use, checking on the kids, and anything else that could interfere with the success of your date. Making these decisions upfront can help your date night run smoothly.
Keep It Simple
Your date night plans do not have to be elaborate. A picnic at the beach, a walk around the lake, or simply cooking a meal together can give you enough couple time to keep your connection strong. What you do together isn’t as important as your intention. Keep the focus on each other. Ask each other questions, and talk about your hopes, fears, and dreams. A simple date with your spouse can be quite magical and can help you maintain a loving relationship.
Go out with your partner. Every now and then it’s nice to have a change of scenery. Plan a night out with your spouse. You can dress up and go to your favorite restaurant, go to a sporting event or concert, or visit a local museum. When you spend time with your partner doing things you love, it helps deepen your bond. It’s easier to take a break from your everyday worries and concerns and focus on each other when you plan a fun outing. Making an effort to go out together and do something you enjoy can help keep your relationship healthy.
While going out for date nights is important, staying home together can be just as beneficial. If you have a newborn, or time or financial constraints, you can have a date night at home. Put the kids to bed early or have a relative watch them and slow dance in the kitchen, watch a movie, or give your partner a massage. Talk to each other, and make sure to listen too. Who knows, you might even learn something new about your spouse. With a little effort, you can make your date night in just as enjoyable as your date night out.
Plan an educational date where you can both learn something. Learning something with your partner engages your brain in a different way that can be invigorating. You could take a cooking class, dance class, or a self-defense class together. Learning new things requires vulnerability. Being vulnerable with each other facilitates a deeper level of bonding. When you actively learn something new and fun, you can also feel closer to your partner. An engaging educational date can strengthen your connection as you stimulate your mind.
Try Something New
On your date night, get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Doing new things helps break the routine. This could be something as simple as trying a new restaurant, or something a little more daring like facing your fear of heights, with your partner by your side of course. You don’t want your date night to simply become another routine. When you are willing to switch things up and try something new, at least some of the time, your date nights will be more interesting and less predictable. If you try something new with your partner, you will most likely associate the challenge and fun you had with being with your partner. This can be helpful in any long term relationship.
Recreate Something Special
It is always good to try something new, but remembering a special time you experienced can be also be a great way to reconnect. Recreating a special time in your past can help rekindle the positive emotions associated with that time. A little nostalgia can be quite romantic and good for your relationship. Recreating your first date or another special time can help you reminisce about the good you’ve experienced together. This enables you to feel those feelings all over again. Sharing these positive feelings again can enhance your bond.
These are just some of the ways you can use date nights to strengthen your relationship. If you are struggling to connect with your partner, couples counseling can help. Focusing on your relationship by making date nights a priority can help keep your relationship strong and healthy.
Mental illness can be hard on couples. If your spouse is diagnosed with a mental illness, your relationship can begin to feel like it exists solely to manage the illness. The stress involved can reach a crisis level. Although having a spouse with a mental illness can be difficult at times, it is possible to maintain a healthy and happy marriage.
Living With Someone With A Mental Illness
When your partner is diagnosed with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or major depression, it can be hard on your relationship. Your spouse might require more help, and may not be able to manage the same tasks as before. It could be hard to take care of your own obligations, while also taking on your partner’s responsibilities. This can cause resentment. The unpredictable nature of their illness can be difficult to deal with. You may be afraid of what the future will hold. The fear, worry, and added strain can cause problems with your own physical and mental health. You may see your spouse as a child that needs to be cared for and could feel quite alone. Although it can be challenging when your spouse has a mental illness, there are some things you can do to help your relationship not only survive, but also thrive.
1. Educate Yourself
Learn everything you can about the mental illness that your spouse is experiencing. It can be easier to separate who your partner is from the mental illness they are dealing with when you are aware of the symptoms of their illness. This can help you work together as a team fighting the illness, instead of fighting against your partner. When you understand their illness, it can help you be more aware of some of the subtle changes that can occur. This way you can seek help in the early stages of a relapse. Educating yourself on the illness helps you prepare for the expected changes and take charge of the things within your control. Knowing what to expect can help you manage the situation more effectively.
2. Have Strong Boundaries
While it is normal to want to help your spouse, and you may need to take on extra responsibilities, having strong boundaries can keep you from enabling them. Having strong boundaries requires you to know yourself, your capabilities, and your limits. If you overcompensate for your partner, make excuses for them, or take on everything yourself, you could end up resenting them. You have limits, needs, and expectations that need to be honored by having firm boundaries. For instance, you can have a boundary around them managing their illness by taking their prescribed medications and attending their therapy appointments. A consequence for not taking their medication as prescribed could be that they have to take it in front of someone. Boundaries are for you, not for the other person. If your partner stops taking their medication, they could suffer a major relapse which could have a negative impact on you.
3. Practice Self-Care
To be able to deal with the added responsibilities surrounding your partner’s mental illness, you need to take care of yourself. Make time for yourself and do the things that you enjoy. Eat well-balanced healthy meals. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. Spend time with friends and family. Practice meditation and mindfulness and take care of your spiritual needs. Do things that bring you joy, comfort you, and relax or energize you. If you neglect self-care, your own physical and mental health can suffer and you could experience caregiver burnout. When you take time out of your day to attend to your emotional and physical well-being, you will have more to give your spouse.
4. Communicate With Your Spouse
When your spouse has a mental illness, you may spend a lot of time biting your tongue so you don’t say something that will make things worse. However, not sharing your experience, concerns, and even your frustrations, can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection. Externalizing the illness and sharing how it’s impacting each of you, can bring you closer together. This way you can band together to fight the negative impact of your common enemy. When you don’t discuss these things, you could build up resentment that can come out as bitterness, anger, or even contempt. Keeping the lines of communication open will keep your relationship strong, even in the midst of a mental illness.
5. Get Support
When your spouse is struggling with a mental illness, they may not be able to do all of the things that they were able to do before. Although you may be able to handle some of the added responsibilities on your own, asking others for help can make things a lot easier. You can ask your family, friends, and even your community to help you out. Make a list of the things that you need help with and see who is able to help and when. Join a support group. Reach out to your church. Or, ask your neighbors for help. When you ask others for help, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed and better able to care for your loved ones, and yourself.
6. Get Professional Help
Your spouse may not be the only one that can benefit from counseling. It may also be helpful for you. Therapy can provide a safe space for you to process your feelings about your situation in a healthy way. You could also learn effective coping strategies in therapy. Couples counseling can help keep the focus on your relationship. By actively working on your relationship, you can learn ways to effectively manage the more difficult stages of the illness as a team. The added support that you receive for yourself and your relationship can help both you and your marriage remain strong and healthy.
Although having a spouse with a mental illness can be challenging, it does not have to destroy your marriage. With help and support, you can manage the reality of your situation effectively and grow closer to each other. Working together, your marriage can strengthen and thrive.
Connection and autonomy are essential components of a healthy, secure relationship. When things are going well, it is easy to navigate the conflicting needs of spending time together and spending time apart. However, when things become stressful due to life transitions, illness, or other concerns, balancing these needs can be hard. This is especially true when one person pulls their partner close, and the other pushes their partner away. When this happens, a relationship pattern known as pursuer/distancer can develop. If the pursuer/distancer relationship pattern becomes an ongoing part of the couple relationship, it could be difficult for the relationship to survive.
The Pursuer/Distancer Pattern
A pursuer/distancer relationship pattern can occur when a couple experiences relationship stress. There is a struggle between the need for closeness and the need for distance. When the pursuer experiences relationship stress, they turn to their partner for increased closeness and reassurance. The distancer feels overwhelmed by their partner’s pursuit and withdraws to relieve anxiety. The pursuer then increases their efforts to ease their own anxiety, often through criticism, anger, and making more demands. This causes the distancer to withdraw further and respond critically to the added demands, while avoiding their partner by increasing involvement in other areas of their life. The pursuer can eventually feel defeated and withdraw from the relationship, becoming the distancer. The distancer can then fear that their partner will leave the relationship, so they take on the role of the pursuer, and thus the pattern continues. While this can be a normal pattern in relationships during times of stress, it can be problematic if it becomes entrenched. When this happens, the behavior of one partner triggers and perpetuates the behavior of the other.
The pursuer/distancer pattern can cause a lot of problems for a couple and can interfere with their ability to maintain a loving connection. For example, a couple is sitting on the couch together watching television. The wife turns off the television and asks her husband what’s wrong. The husband says nothing is wrong, he was just trying to watch the show. The wife gets upset and tells the husband that he always shuts down and he never shares his feelings with her. The husband says that he doesn’t know what she is talking about and that she is overreacting. The wife tells the husband that he is cold and emotionless and probably doesn’t even have feelings. The husband says he has work to do and leaves the room. Either partner can assume either role. This can also change over time or in different situations. This relationship pattern can be extremely destructive. It can lead to divorce or separation if this pattern continues to be a regular part of the relationship.
The partner that is the pursuer tends to enjoy talking about their feelings with their partner and needs emotional closeness. When problems arise, they react quickly and emotionally. The purser often has an anxious attachment style and requires a lot of reassurance from their partner. They need a lot of affection, connection, and attention from their partner in order to feel secure in their relationship. Expressing feelings comes easily to pursuers and they crave a deep connection with their partner. They can be emotionally intense and highly sensitive and are very attuned to the slightest hint of rejection. When their partner requires space, they can take it as a personal rejection and can resort to nagging, criticism, and blaming in order to ease their anxiety and try to force their partner to reconnect. This behavior often pushes their partner even further away.
The distancer values independence and requires a great deal of personal space. When problems occur, they like to think things through, and avoid uncomfortable emotions by engaging in compulsive behaviors. They often have an avoidant attachment style and require emotional and physical space when relationship anxiety is high. Autonomy is highly valued and it can be difficult for them to identify their feelings and express vulnerability. Although they also value connection, distancers can feel overwhelmed by their partner’s pursuit as they need to feel emotionally safe to establish and maintain a connection. To avoid feeling emotional pressure and to protect both themselves and the relationship, they minimize their partner’s concerns, shut down and go silent to avoid conflict, and withdraw from their partner. The distancer responds to their partner’s pleas for connection with rationality, which can cause their partner to feel rejected and misunderstood.
Pursuers and distancers are often quite drawn to one another as they each have what the other lacks. Distancers can view pursuers as being passionate, direct, and ambitious. Pursuers, on the other hand, see distancers as calm, self-reliant, and confident. When trouble occurs, the natural opposite reactions of the pursuer and distancer create anxiety for their partner. This anxiety reinforces the pattern and the pursuer becomes more insistent on connection and increases their emotional response, while the distancer responds to the increase in intensity by withdrawing further. Each time a problem arises, the pattern becomes more deeply ingrained.
Breaking The Pattern
Breaking the pursuer/distancer pattern requires each of the partner’s to give a little. The reality is that everyone needs both autonomy and connection. Relationships require give and take and asking for what you need. Understanding and addressing the attachment needs of your partner during times of relationship stress can stop the pursuer/distancer pattern. It takes a willingness to acknowledge the pattern, directly ask for what you need from your partner, and alter the automatic response that occurs when relationship anxiety takes over.
What Pursuers Can Do
Since the pursuer is often more concerned about the distance in the relationship and more motivated to fix it, changing the pattern often starts with them. The pursuer needs to find a way to stop the chase. The pursuer can acknowledge their needs and clearly state what they are. Instead of turning towards the relationship to meet all of their needs, they can create a rich experience outside of their relationship and begin to meet some of their own needs. When they can learn to self-soothe, they can calm their relationship anxiety and decrease the demands and criticism. By embracing their own need for independence, they can turn to their partner for interconnection, instead of turning to them to relieve their anxiety.
What Distancers Can Do
The distancer can also change the relationship pattern by focusing on their own behavior. Distancers can schedule a time to connect with their partner, both emotionally and physically. Scheduled connection time also allows for scheduled alone time. When the pursuer knows that there is a scheduled time for connection, it can decrease their anxiety about the relationship and their need to pursue. The distancer can start being more vulnerable with their partner. They can share their day, their feelings, and thoughts, and actively listen to their partner. They can ask for space and time to think about an issue their partner has brought up if needed. When asking for time and space, they should let their partner know when they plan to discuss it. When the distancer is able to support their partner in times of stress, instead of withdrawing, the couple can achieve a greater balance between independence and togetherness.
The pursuer/distancer pattern becomes a concern when it becomes entrenched. When you notice the pursuer/distancer pattern becoming more prevalent in your relationship, stopping it will be important to the health of your partnership. If you find it difficult to stop this pattern on your own, couples counseling can help. Learning how to acknowledge and meet each other’s attachment needs without falling into this destructive pattern, can help you create the successful relationship you want.
What Is EFT
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a structured couples therapy approach developed by Sue Johnson and colleagues, based on John Bowlby’s attachment theory. This approach is founded on the premise that attachment needs and bonds continue into adult relationships. Distress can occur for couples when attachment fears, especially the fear of abandonment, are triggered. Emotional responses to these fears can cause distress in the couple relationship. When a couple has a hard time meeting the emotional needs of each other, they can get stuck in negative patterns of interaction. These negative patterns occur due to ineffective attempts to understand each other’s emotional responses and related attachment needs.
EFT helps couples understand each other’s attachment needs and insecurities so couples can learn to respond to each other in more empathic, emotionally connected ways. When couples learn to respond in this way, they develop a more secure attachment. EFT can help couples understand their own emotional responses as well as the emotional responses of their partner. The goal of EFT is to help couples reinforce positive relational bonds already in place and to increase secure attachment and connection in the couple relationship.
There are three stages and nine steps involved in EFT. The first stage is the assessment and de-escalation phase. During this stage, the therapist assesses the couples patterns of interaction and helps to de-escalate conflict. In the second stage of EFT, the therapist works with the couple to find ways to form a stronger bond and a more secure attachment. The final stage of EFT is about consolidation and integration. During this stage, the therapist helps the couple identify the changes that have occurred and integrate them into all aspects of the couples lives.
The Stages And Steps
Stage 1: Assess And De-escalate
Step 1: Identify key issues of concern for the couple.
Step 2: Identify negative relationship patterns of interaction and
how they increase conflict when important issues arise.
Step 3: The therapist helps the couple to identify unacknowledged
fears and negative emotions related to attachment needs and negative
Step 4: The therapist reframes key issues in terms of negative
relationship patterns and underlying emotions related to
Stage 2: Changing Patterns of Interaction
Step 5: The couple are individually helped to share their deeper
emotions and needs based on attachment.
Step 6: The couple is coached in how to show acceptance and
compassion for their partner’s deep emotions and attachment
Step 7: The couple is coached in how to express deep emotions and
attachment needs while discussing issues that are likely to lead to
Stage 3: Consolidation And Integration
Step 8: The therapist coaches the couple in using new
communication styles to discuss old problems and create
Step 9: The couple learns new ways to use skills learned in
therapy in other situations outside of therapy and develops a
plan to make new interaction patterns a consistent part of life
Is EFT Effective
EFT is an evidence based therapeutic approach. There is strong empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of EFT. Couples who participate in EFT often feel emotionally closer to their partner. Once attachment injuries are addressed and blamer softening occurs, couples report feeling a deeper level of connection to one another, which often results in an increase in relationship satisfaction. Furthermore, what the couple learns in EFT can be translated to other areas of their lives, encouraging a more secure attachment to each other.
EFT In Practice
A couple comes in for therapy because of constant fighting and a lack of intimacy. In the first stage of therapy, the therapist helps the couple recognize the interaction patterns that develop based on attachment needs. For this couple, the husband reaches out to his wife and the wife doesn’t respond the way he wants her to so he becomes angry and critical. His wife responds to his anger by withdrawing. The couple’s interaction pattern is one of pursuing and withdrawing. The therapist helps them understand the underlying emotions of the husband feeling rejected and the wife feeling afraid.
In the second and third stages of therapy, the couple learns how to change their patterns of interaction. The therapist helps the couple acknowledge and validate their partner’s emotional experience. The couple is encouraged and coached to brainstorm new solutions that work for both partners. When the couple recognizes the emotions underlying the behavior of their partner, they are able to alter their own reactions and establish healthier interaction patterns. The therapist then helps the couple to develop a plan to utilize this approach in other areas of their lives where conflict can arise.
If you are struggling in your relationship, couples counseling can help. A therapist that is trained in EFT can help you understand your attachment needs and improve your emotional connection so that you can feel closer to each other. When you feel understood and deeply connected to your partner, your couple connection can grow stronger.
Chances are, if you are in a long-term relationship you have probably had a fight or two. Disagreements in relationships are expected and can even be healthy and encourage growth. However, arguments can also lead to hurt feelings and trouble in your relationship if you aren’t fighting fair. Although conflict in a relationship happens, learning how to fight fair can help strengthen your relationship and keep it healthy.
1. Discuss Issues As They Arise
When you have an issue with your partner, let them know about it when it occurs. This way you are less likely to build up resentment. If your partner isn’t aware that something is bothering you, they are unlikely to change the behavior. When you let resentment build, it is easy to explode over something that is seemingly small. For instance, if your partner leaves their dirty dishes in the sink and you believe they should be put in the dishwasher, you will probably be irritated every time you see them in the sink. If you let your partner know that this bothers you, then you can come up with a compromise that you both can agree on.
2. Know What To Let Go
Since you and your partner are not the same person, there is a good chance that you will disagree at times. While there are some issues that you don’t see eye to eye on that will be important to discuss, even if you know it will turn into a fight, there will be other issues that you can let go. The key is figuring out the difference. A good way to determine this is to consider how long the issue is going to be around and how important it is to each of you. If the issue will no longer matter by the end of the day, it is probably not worth the fight. It is helpful to know yourself and your values so you can decide what you can let go. If you make an issue out of everything in your relationship, you will end up with a problem focused relationship.
3. Stick To The Topic At Hand
Focus on the current topic when you have an argument with your partner. When you bring up past problems and issues, it is difficult to resolve anything. If a past issue keeps being brought up, you might want to set aside time at a later date to focus on that issue. Keep in mind that there are some issues that are unresolvable and you will need to find some way to say what you need to say and then agree to disagree. Staying on the current topic lets your partner know that it’s important to you. If one of you changes the topic, the other can give a gentle reminder to keep the focus on the current situation. Having firm boundaries around keeping the past out of the present argument can keep your fight more fair.
4. Set Some Ground Rules
If you have rules in place that you both follow, it can keep things from getting out of hand. Name calling, yelling, belittling, sarcasm, stonewalling and withdrawing can cause the disagreement to become more of a battle. When your feelings are hurt, it’s hard to focus on coming up with a solution, as the focus is on self-protection. Having rules in place that keep things respectful can be very helpful. For instance, you could agree not to call each other names during a fight. If one of you slips and calls the other a name, the other person can give a warning first and walk away if it continues so you both can take a time out. The one that walks away should let their partner know when they will come back to continue the discussion. This way both partners know it’s the way you are treating each other that’s the problem, not what you are discussing. Having rules in place keeps the fight fair for both of you.
5. Use A Code Word
In order to keep the fight fair, you can come up with a code word to use. When the code word is used, that means that you need a break from the argument. You can use the code word when you are feeling attacked or overwhelmed. Both of you need to agree that when the code word is used, you will take a time out and resume the discussion after an agreed upon time. If you agree that when the code word is used, you will take a break for 10 minutes, after the 10 minutes are up and you’ve had a chance to calm down, you should resume the discussion. Come up with a word that you both are familiar with, but don’t use in your everyday conversations. If it’s silly or funny, it can also help de-escalate the situation. Although using a code word can help you fight fair, make sure you don’t overuse it.
6. Use Effective Communication Skills
Using effective communication skills can help keep your fight fair. Effective communication skills require you to speak from your own perspective and listen to what your partner is saying. “I” statements can be used instead of “you” statements to keep what you say about how you are feeling about the situation instead of what you think your partner is doing wrong. Another way to communicate more effectively is to repeat back what you hear your partner say, and allow them to clarify. It is very difficult to repeat back what you hear your partner say if you aren’t listening to them. Doing this can help you both feel heard and understood, even during a fight.
After a fight, it is important to repair the damage. If you win the fight, your partner loses and vice versa. You want to make sure that your relationship is still in a good place. If you were wrong, or you said something mean or hurtful, apologize. Body language, facial expression, humor and touch are ways to connect with your partner after a disagreement. The important thing is to let your partner know that you are still on the same team. Make the argument about the argument and not about the stability of the relationship.
Conflict in your relationship may be unavoidable, but learning how to fight fair can keep your relationship strong. If you have difficulty keeping your fights fair, couples counseling can help. Fair fighting is a skill that you can use to manage your disagreements and help your relationship grow and thrive.
Ever wonder why you behave the way you do in your relationships? Do you feel confident in most aspects of your life, yet struggle to feel assured in your relationships? If so, this could be explained by your attachment style. Your attachment style can impact how you behave and what you need in a relationship for it to be successful. Understanding your attachment style can help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses around relating so you can feel more secure in your relationships.
Attachment refers to the way you relate to people and form a bond. John Bowlby suggests, in attachment theory, that the way a child attaches to their primary caregiver can influence the way they form other social relationships. The four attachment styles are anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, fearful-avoidant, and secure. Your attachment style determines how you go about getting your relational needs met. Even though your attachment style begins to develop in infancy, it can change due to experiences and interactions with others. For example, if you had an abusive parent, and developed a fearful-avoidant attachment style, but your subsequent relationships were with those that had a secure attachment style, you could have a secure attachment to your spouse. Knowing your attachment style enables you to share this with others so your attachment needs can be addressed. No matter what your attachment style is, when your attachment needs are met you will experience happier and healthier relationships.
If you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, you might be a highly sensitive person. You are probably very alert to small relationship shifts and find it easy to tune into other’s expressions and moods. Although you are very perceptive, you might have a tendency to catastrophize and imagine the worst. Like, if your partner doesn’t respond immediately to your text, you might assume they are mad at you and they want to end the relationship, instead of just assuming they are busy. When this insecurity sets in, you need a lot of reassurance from your partner to believe that everything is okay. If you receive this reassurance, everything calms down and you relax. If you don’t receive this reassurance, you may resort to manipulative behaviors that could end up destroying your relationship.
The anxious-preoccupied attachment style can develop when your primary caregiver is inconsistent in their availability and ability to respond to your needs. You might become anxious and worried and develop a deep fear of abandonment. This can cause clingy behavior in your adult relationships as you look to your partner to alleviate your self-doubt. Having a negative self-view while having a positive view of others, especially parents and partners, is quite common. Expressing anger can be difficult and suppressed anger might lead to an outburst followed by begging for forgiveness. It is difficult to trust others and there is quite often a strong fear of abandonment.
Someone with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style has a deep fear of rejection. To manage this fear, you might avoid intimate relationships by keeping your partner at a distance or leaving a relationship when it becomes too emotionally charged. A high level of independence is desired in your relationships. You might keep yourself busy with work, or hobbies that enable you to nurture your independence. Conflict and troubling emotional situations are hard for you to deal with and you might avoid them by distancing yourself from the relationship. It could be very difficult for you to feel emotionally close to anyone. You might believe you don’t need relationships and you could have a difficult time showing your emotions. This fear of emotional closeness can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
Those with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style often experienced their caregiver as unavailable. Your caregiver was seen as being unresponsive to your needs, or emotionally unavailable. This lead to a belief that you can only rely on yourself, not others. You may feel that if you were to open up to others emotionally, they would reject you. Independence was most likely highly valued in your childhood, while emotional displays were not tolerated. Although it may seem that you have an inflated sense of self, this defense mechanism often hides your deep fears and vulnerability. You might think of your childhood as happy, although it is often difficult to recall any memories related to your parents.
If you have a fearful-avoidant attachment style, you probably have difficulty with both intimacy and distance. You could be deeply afraid of abandonment and equally scared of emotional closeness. This can result in a push-pull dynamic in your relationships. You could cling to your partner when you feel they are too distant, and push them away when you believe they are getting too close. Your relationships go through many ups and downs and seem to be quite dramatic. It could be very challenging for you to rely on others as you believe that they will let you down.
If you have a fearful-avoidant attachment style, you may have experienced abuse or neglect from your caregiver. This abusive pattern can sometimes continue in your adult relationships where you might take on a passive role. The fearful-avoidant attachment style can increase your risk for anxiety and depression. You may have viewed your caregiver as being anxious or scary. It is difficult to trust others as you have a negative view of both yourself and others. Although you fear getting close to others and believe they will reject you, there is a reliance on others to maintain a positive self-view.
When you have a secure attachment style, you tend to have a good view of love and intimacy. There is a belief that you are worthy of love and you expect others to be able to meet your needs. You are able to be vulnerable with your partner and can respond to their needs by offering comfort and support. It is easier to set healthy boundaries in your relationships which helps you get your needs met and enables you to effectively respond to the needs of your partner. Your relationships tend to be growth oriented and low in drama. You turn to your partner in times of distress and are able to be there for others when they need you.
With a secure attachment style, you felt that your caregivers responded to your needs appropriately. This helped you develop trust in others and their ability to meet your needs. You saw your caregiver as someone you could depend on and you expect this in your adult relationships as well. A positive view of self and others is experienced and you expect your relationships to be secure. You place a high value on both dependence and independence in your close relationships. It is easier to trust others and to expect the best from your relationships.
If you notice that you do not have a secure attachment style, it doesn’t mean that your relationships are doomed. Developing relationships with those that have a more secure attachment style can help you learn skills that could enhance your relationships. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you understand and address the negative thought patterns and behaviors related to your attachment style that lead to difficulties in your relationships. By acknowledging and addressing insecure attachment patterns, you can experience more security and happiness in your relationships.