Thursday, May 8, 2008

ABC'S of Attachment: What we need from love relationships

We get into romantic relationships for lots of reasons, so we think. But really, we are made to attach. Attaching is "hard-wired" into us. We live, breathe, and attach. Most of us, for the most part, are social beings. If attaching is like breathing, hard wired in, then what do we need from it? From breathing we need oxygen. From attaching we need...well, let's discuss it for a minute.

John Bowlby, the brilliant attachment theorist, outline 10 central tenents of attachment (Johnson, 2004). These basic needs we long to have fulfilled by our primary attachment figures, or those we are in close relationships with, in order to form a secure attachment. A secure attachment equates to being healthier and happier. I've summarized Bowlby's 10 tenents into what I call the ABC'S of attachment.
A - acceptance
B - belonging
C - comfort
S - safety

Attachment is both emotional and physical bonding. To feel secure within ourselves and our relationships we need acceptance, belonging, comfort and safety. We need physical and emotional acceptance. Physical and emotional belonging. Physical and emotional comfort. And, physical and emotional safety.

Our world works better when these needs are met.

If you feel insecure, meaning you hide who you are or what you want from others, especially those close to you, then chances are strong one or more of your attachment needs are not being met.

To develop your sense of security try doing these things:
  1. Review and evaluate yourself in relation to the ABC'S of attachment. Are your physcial and emotional needs met, if so how? Or, are your needs unmet?
  2. List your unmet needs, your vulnerable feelings and beliefs associated with having unmet needs.
  3. Find a way to share your feelings (fear, sadness, lonliness, less-than, etc.) and what you long for with the person who can help to calm or comfort the feelings created from your unmet needs.
  4. Continue to work to share your soft feelings and let your partner care for and comfort you.

You will find as you share more of what you deeply feel and desire your partner is likely to respond to you in an effort to meet your needs. And, I hope, you will try to do the same for your partner.

If you need additional help you can contact an EFT therapist and/or try reading Sue Johnson's self-help book "Hold Me Tight: Seven Conservations for a Life Time of Love."

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