Love and Attachment
We all dream and hope for a love that is strong, unbreakable, and enduring. We long for a loving relationship where we can feel a sense of comfort, reassurance, attention, responsiveness, importance, emotional connection, closeness and intimacy. We want to feel safe, valued, and that we matter to our loved one. We want to know that even when times get tough, we will be supported and cared for.
This need for a secure attachment bond is an innate survival mechanism that wires human beings across the life span to seek and maintain close, meaningful relationships. When we perceive disconnection, inaccessibility, or threatened security with our partner, we experience fear, distress, and enter fight-or-flight mode. Attempts to regain responsiveness and connection are often disguised in the form of protests, blaming, and arguing. This emotional reactivity often communicates a message that we don’t intend to send – instead of seeing our pain, hurt, shame, fear, and sadness, our partners perceive irritability, anger, annoyance, aggression, and stubbornness. In response to this perceived attack, partners also develop feelings of anger, fear, and sadness, hearing that he or she has failed. In turn, this can lead our partners to withdrawal, shut down, and avoid engagement.
These behavioral strategies that we develop when we feel disconnected can become rigid, repetitive interaction patterns that quickly spiral out of control. Over time, this negative cycle, or dance, can create much pain, isolation, emotional injury, and despair. Studies have also shown that this insecure sense of attachment can cause a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and physical illness.