A Compass, Guide, and Survival Kit for Mastering Attachment Styles… in the Wild
Even in a world of chaos and uncertainty, one thing I know for certain is that attachment styles are a critical part of relationships.
Now, you may be thinking, as I sometimes muse, “What does attachment have to do with surviving in this near-apocalyptic modern era of rampant capitalism, climate catastrophe and Artificial Intelligence?” Well, friends and fellow travelers, it has everything to do with it.
Our attachment styles, developed in childhood and forged (hewn?) by all our relationships since then, shape the way we relate to others and form relationships. In a world where trust is hard to come by and connections mean everything, understanding our attachment style can make all the difference.
Once we know these styles exist, what else do we need to survive in the post-apocalyptic wilderness? Here’s your guide to mastering attachment in the wild.
An Attachment Style Survival Kit for Couples
Couples can use attachment styles to relate better with one another by understanding their own attachment style and their partner’s attachment style, and by working together to create a secure, healthy relationship.
When things get rocky, as they inevitably do in any relationship, couples can use the wisdom gleaned by their attachment styles. They can improve their relationship with one another by learning to – like a good scout – be prepared. Start with a packing list.
NAVIGATION / WAYFINDING
Identify attachment styles: Couples can start by identifying their own attachment style and their partner’s attachment style. This can help them understand why they behave in certain ways in the relationship and what triggers our insecurities.
As a reminder, the four main styles of attachment in relationships are:
Secure Attachment: People with a secure attachment style feel comfortable with intimacy and are able to form healthy, balanced relationships.
Anxious Attachment: People with an anxious attachment style crave intimacy but often feel insecure in relationships, worrying about being abandoned or rejected.
Avoidant Attachment: People with an avoidant attachment style tend to keep their distance emotionally and avoid intimacy, often to protect themselves from getting hurt.
Disorganized Attachment: People with a disorganized attachment style may exhibit conflicting behaviors, such as both seeking out and avoiding intimacy, often as a result of past trauma or abuse.
To read more about identifying attachment patterns, see my previous blog on attachment.
EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION DEVICES
Communicating openly: Couples can communicate openly and honestly about their attachment needs and fears. This can help them build trust and intimacy in the relationship.
Practicing deep listening and empathy: Couples can practice empathy and try to understand their partner’s perspective. This can help them be more compassionate and supportive of each other.
Working on individual growth: Couples can work on their own personal growth and healing to improve their attachment style. This can involve therapy, self-reflection, and learning new skills for emotional regulation and communication.
WATER, FOOD, SHELTER, BLANKETS, ETC.
Creating a secure relationship: Couples can work together to create a secure, healthy relationship by validating each other’s experience, also seeking the win-win, setting clear boundaries, showing appreciation and affection, and prioritizing each other’s needs.
Therapist as Trail Guide
All of that is easier said and done. If you’ve gone about all of this on your own and you just feel lost and downtrodden, it might be time to hire a trail guide who has been down the road before, knows the terrain and shortcuts and can get you expeditiously to your destination.
It’s my ardent belief that the best guides are there to walk alongside us. They are not gurus who sit atop a mountain at the end of your journey, but rather knowledgeable stewards of the environment who help you find your own best path. By using attachment style theory to relate better with one another, we can all build stronger, more fulfilling relationships that stand the test of time.
Just as you want to bring a “Multi-Tool” along with you in the wilderness, couples can benefit from an experienced therapist who knows how to improve relational dynamics using a variety of methods – tested methods as well as the latest innovations.
Cleaning up the Campsite
Once we’ve identified our attachment styles, there’s no need to pigeonhole or typecast ourselves or our partner. It’s not necessary, and not helpful.
Most of us who are intuitive easily recognize that our attachment style is not set in stone. By working on ourselves we’ve seen how awareness and observation can help change the way we relate to others. As we have become informed and in tune with our attachment styles, we’ve made more conscious choices about how we want to show up in relationships.
Accepting our own shadow side – and opening ourselves to change – provides us the opportunity to cultivate seedlings of self-awareness needed for secure attachment.
Mastery of attachment styles means using these four styles as merely information – data points – to earnestly endeavor to address your own patterns and tendencies. Once you know your own style, and that of your partner, you can each work toward a more secure and dependable relationship.
Finding Our Way Home
So, whether you’re an anxious survivor who craves connection but fears rejection, an avoidant loner who struggles with intimacy, or a secure survivor who navigates relationships with ease, know that there is hope for growth and change.
When you have a healthy relationship and feel secure with those around you, you will have an easier time:
- enjoying emotional intimacy,
- transitioning from being together and separate,
- finding emotional honesty, and
- feeling more satisfied in all your relationships.
By understanding our attachment styles and working on ourselves, we can create fulfilling relationships even amidst chaos and noise of the modern world.
Stay strong, my fellow survivors of the modern era. We are all in this together.