Want to Feel More Secure in Love and Dating?

By now, most people have heard of attachment theory, a concept developed by John Bowlby used to explain a child’s development in relation to their adult caregivers and how this development impacts their attachment style as they grow into an adult themselves. If not, I’ve included a summary for each type below. How do you identify?

~The Anxious or Preoccupied relating style tends to result in higher than average levels of anxious projection into a relationship, meaning anxious attachment types tend to create or imagine the worst stories when dating someone new as a result of unresolved trauma triggering unconscious nervous system responses. They are non-linear, right brain dominant thinkers who often experience feelings of flight or fight in dating and relationships.

~ Our Dismissive Avoidants are left brain dominant, tend to be more rigid in their relating styles and tend to fare low on the anxiety scale. They often seem distant and subconsciously believe their needs won’t be met. They are more likely to check out of romance instead of sharing their needs and desires straightforwardly because they believe they are better off avoiding close emotional connection, thus avoiding opportunity to create a deeper intimate bond with potential partners. They are likely to become hyper-independent and experience feelings of isolation.

~ Fearful Avoidant or Disorganized types are sometimes blocked from creating secure relationships they fervently desire because their fear of getting hurt in close relationships is so great. This often results from loss or other serious trauma experienced in childhood. It takes them longer to enter into committed relationships and they often feel more invested in their relationship than their partner. They display signs of both high levels of anxiety and avoidance in relationships and they can swing from intrusive to completely passive with unclear boundaries.

~ Secure attachment is the style that allows an individual the most ease in forming emotional closeness with others and generally feel a stable sense of self acceptance. They are comfortable with a balance of both healthy intimacy and independence and easily voice their needs in relationships, including the setting of healthy boundaries along with the ability to respect their partners’. They have the least anxious or avoidant tendencies of the attachment types.

We all know that childhood plays a huge part in shaping the adults we are today, but did you know there are techniques proven to help us down-regulate our nervous systems and soften our approach in love and that doing so creates a better, more stable experience of love and relationships?

Read below for ways we can proactively facilitate the transition from the various insecure attachment styles towards secure relating:

Three Tips for Transitioning From Anxious or Fearful to Secure:

  1. Consciously take slow, deep, diaphragmatic breaths when feeling anxious or in an argument. Longer, deeper breaths have been scientifically proven to relax the body via activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Try doubling or even tripling the length of your inhales and exhales right now to get a sense for the impact it can have on stress and anxiety levels.

  2. Meditate in order to learn to tolerate discomfort with more ease and to develop a self-contemplation practice. Often, we experience anxiety as a result of beliefs and stories that simply may not be true in the present moment. Consider a meditation practice as an investment in a calm mind which becomes a sharper tool for navigating conflict with greater ease.

  3. Learn to communicate with as few assumptions as possible, thus leaving space for your partner to share their story. Ask open ended questions about what they’re currently experiencing. Take space and self-source if communication becomes chaotic and share stories or perspectives when not in conflict with your partner.

Three Tips for Transitioning from Avoidant to Secure:

  1. Take small steps towards change. If your partner wants to spend more time together or talk about topics that seem unimportant, try putting in gradual effort towards accommodating their requests and easing into intimacy at a pace that looks like progress to both of you.

  2. Pick up some activities that are helpful in both strengthening activity in your right brain and breaking down your inhibitions, like singing, dancing, creative writing or even alternate nostril breathing. If you haven’t tried breathing techniques before, this one is proven to cultivate balance between both hemispheres of the brain, and breathing through just your left nostril prompts greater activity in the right side in particular!

  3. If your partner expresses upset due to feelings of distance, try reassuring your partner that of your feelings of commitment. Let them know that you need space now but you will be back soon. Make use of your personal time and space by doing things that put you more in touch with your creative and intuitive side and investing in the kind of personal development that will contribute to the health of your relationships.

Here is a simple exercise that anyone could partake in to turn conflict into an opportunity to create a more harmonious, long term love relationship:

Step One:

Identify one partner’s behavior and the negative emotions it prompts in the other and write “If I (behavior), my partner feels (feeling).”

Step Two: 

Converse with empathy and conclude whether it is true or not. Continue to work through the words and statement until it feels true for both parties, allowing the behavior and feeling to be defined by the respective partners.

Step Three:

Examine the conclusion and determine what is in either partner’s control in order to make a change. Then, commit to proactively making what changes can be made with compassion and patience towards one another’s growth process.

Here is an example:

Step One:

“If I don’t contact my partner to tell her when I’m running late, she gets angry.”

Step Two:

You determine she gets angry because it brings up her fear of abandonment, making her feel uncared for. So, you decide to write:

“If I don’t contact my partner to tell her when I’m running late, she feels uncared for.”

Step Three:

Now that there is clarity around what is happening emotionally for partner number two, you both decide that partner number one will begin to call or text when running late and partner number two will practice patience as partner one adjusts his/her habit.

Now, this last part is very important!

Change does not happen overnight. We’ve all heard this, but remembering to practice patience, forgiveness and compassion with one another while learning the new relationship skills is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another.