From anxiously attached to securely attached
I have been quite an anxious person in the past 3 years, freaking out over the smallest actions of my partner, parents & friends and over-exaggerating the meaning behind each letter they have used in any word.
According to the attachment theory, I have been the „anxious” type in my relationships, an attachment style I have read in a book written by Amir Levine & Rachel Heller, called „Attached” – it talks about the 3 main attachment styles in relationships: the anxious one, the avoidant and the securely attached partner.
I had a relationship where I felt like I was running in circles with a guy I could just simply not understand. He used to get even more distant as I wanted to get closer to him. I am naturally a very affectionate person & in all my previous relationships could be describes as „quite clingy and overly attached”. I used to assimilate love with grand gestures of phisical and financial „Giving”. Having had experience only with super attached partners, I saw extreme attachment as the only way of showing love and the only way of expressing true romantic affection. Until one day when I met someone whose love language was so much the „avoidant”, that an extreme confusion started to settle in by seeing the contrast between what Inhave been used to and what was the reality now…
He definitely doesn’t love me if he doesn’t want to see me everyday.
He doesn’t love me if he doesn’t buy me gifts.
He doesn’t care about me if he is not replying to me within 24 hours.
These were some of the thoughts butchering my brain at the time.
I always thought that sitting close next to someone for a long time is a symbol of love. This time, space was required of me. I didn’t understand, so I freaked out thinking that this person doesn’t love me. Then I got mixed signals: they kissed me, they were committed, they wanted to go on holidays. I thought I was being played with.
I slowly started realising that I became so much more clingy than I would normally be as a result of my partner creating such a big distance between us. He wanted more space, so as a result I wanted more closeness to prove to myself that the relationship was worth it.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t a question of what is worth it and what isn’t.
Any relationship is worth it if both sides love their time together and they are willing to make an effort to understand each other. It is not a game of ccompatibility/ incompatibility.
We think as a result of seeing various relationship quizzes online and „love tests bases on our initials” that love is a yes/ no game.
It is not as black & white as one might think. It is grey as fuck.
I couldn’t understand this „grey mass” so I turned to a psychologist and psychology books and I found the answer to my confusion.
I was an anxiously attached partner looking to find love from am avoidant partner.
Let me define how all the 3 attachment types look like:
- Wants a lot of closeness in the relationship
- Unhappy when not in a relationship
- Plays games to get attention
- Suspicious about the faithfulness of their partnets – (this type was definitely me)
- Sends mixed signals
- Values independence and their solitude
- Emphasises boundaries in their relationship
- Doesn’t make their intention clear
- Gets confused when talking about commitment and compromise (definitely my partner)
- Reliable and consistent
- Makes decisions with you
- Communicates issues well
- Closeness creates further closeness
- Doesn’t play games
- Naturally expresses feelings for you
The book says how usually 60% of the population is securely attached, 30% amxiously and 10% avoidantly. It mentions how usually when one partner is secure, the relationship has a chance as they take their time to understand each other and the secure one helps the other partner express their feelings in an honest and transparent way while finding a common ground.
The situation I found myself in was: I am anxious and my partner is avoidant.
I get closer, he moves further. I am more affectionate, he gets colder. I want to make plans, he avoids the conversation. I call him, he doesn’t reply.
It was a constant run on a hamster wheel to get someone to love me who just simply cannot do so because too much closeness is unknown for them. It is not because they don’t love you. They fucking love you with all their heart. The issue is that they have not been as comfortable with closeness in their life to be able to fully embrace it in the present. It is just like expecting someone to be a great chef after not having cooked even scrambled eggs in their life.
We drove each other in 2 extremes and we couldn’t escape the vicious cycle. I had moments when I hated my relationship while I also loved my partner like hell. What was this feeling which was so unnormal? Why was I so confused?
I think many of us might have been or are in a similar situation.
Attached – the book I am reading, says how usually avoidant people always date anxious types as it confirms their current type. Let me explain: the avoidant dating an anxious person will always get into the situation where the anxious one blames themselves for fucking something up in the relationship and therefore adapts to the avoidant who is not willing to make a change to the same extent as the anxious one. This puts the avoidant into a position of superiority confirming his/her typology. The anxious one does the same, as he wants to make the relationship work he/ she starts making compromises that they wouldn’t wanna do just to „make the relationship work” and to please their partner in ways they would like to be pleased. (Can confirm that I have been through this!)
I used to fall into the anxious type, making endless efforts against my true willingness and did the following:
- Took up dance classes for my partner even though I am horrible at dancing
- Started accepting things that I wouldn’t normally have done: be in an open relationship – done it, made me suffer more than I thought.
- And so on – you get my point.
I changed myself incrementally allowing myself to fall as a victim to my own anxiety.
Until one day, my partner left travelling alone and said that I couldn’t go with him. That was a very sad moment for me: I felt as if I have broken up with him but he was still there. He left so I had to do everything for the one and only: myself.
And this changed my style from anxious to secure.
I learnt how not to live only for my relationship – I couldn’t in this case so I lived for myself: I went to Valencia, stayed in hostels and did all I wanted to do for myself: started drawing much more, I had much more time on my own.
I learnt how not to wait for someone else’s opinion – I listened to only mine and didn’t wait for anyone’s approval.
I learnt how not to plan and not wait for someone to reply. I acted without someone’s approval or without waiting for someone to come with me.
I have been put in the situation where I had to see my partner with someone else. It hurt so much that I couldn’t eat for days, I vomited, I was broken. I learnt not to have massive expectations from the people I loved. I learnt to rely on myself. If the person I love most leaves, well, then I hope they will be happier without me than with me. I will always be ok regardless of what happens.
I stopped micromanaging the people around me – why would I even do it? If they don’t want to do something what is the point?
I stopped putting my worth in someone else’s actions towards me. The way someone loves me doesn’t define how great I am. I am still great regardless of how people interact with me or how they see me. My eyes are my eyes – they are not someone else’s.
I stopped enjoying life only when I am with someone. I started enjoying life more when I was on my own listening to the birds singing and to the wind dancing near my ears. I started drawing more – action which I couldn’t do with someone next to me as I always had to socialise.
I became secure.
Being left alone, being heartbroken and being made to suffer shouldn’t be seen as a sad life.
It is a life which gave you the gift of growth.