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  • Writer's pictureMarjorie Libourel

Are you anxious, avoidant or secure?

How attachment theory can help us break the code of our love lives

Matchmakers in Sydney

In my interviews such as in daily life, I often see people asking themselves why they keep f***ing their relationships up or attract the wrong people. Back in the days, I once dated a man who was totally unable to hold my hand and refused too much physical closeness. A passionate lover one day, he could be totally indifferent the other. I used to confuse this emotional unavailability with passion. Until I found out about attachment theory. And this can be a powerful tool to decipher your relationships and your love life.

If Freud undeniably shook things up with his concepts around sexuality, John Bowlby’s theory of Attachment was equally as ground-breaking as the Austrian father of psychology's. Especially when it began to be applied to romantic relationships.

Born in an aristocratic family in the early XXth century Britain, Bowlby spent much time in hospitals to observe children’s responses to their parents’ behaviours when left alone in a room. After years of research, he realised the form of emotional response you get from your parents strongly determines the way you will interact with others as an adult. (I also suspect his mother was as warm as the British weather - or the Queen of England, if you have watched the Crown).

What is adult attachment theory and why is it useful?

Adult attachment designates three manners in which people perceive and respond to intimacy in romantic relationships, which parallel those found in children. It can be secure, avoidant, or anxious. Understanding attachment styles is an easy and reliable way to grasp and predict people’s behaviour in any romantic situation. Especially because these styles are universal whatever the culture and the background.

Learning about attachment forms enabled me to reflect on my past relationships, the ones we (too) easily tend to call today “toxic”. Attachment theory helped me to understand this had nothing to do with me personally but was often due to people's deep-rooted history and personal construction. It also enlightened me enough to pave my way towards a secure, deeply loving partner who allowed me to spread my wings and explore the world even further.

Attachment is entirely natural

Because here is how it works: attachment is entirely natural. However, in today’s individualistic society, I cannot help but notice how we are constantly encouraged to be self-sufficient in the public discourse. Words as “co-dependant”, or “emotional dependency” are often portrayed as the curse of our time. Yet when we know someone will answer our call, we realise our own full value. When we know someone will be home tonight, the world is less intimidating, and one feels then strong enough to venture into it. There is nothing pathological in this. Darwin, just like Bowlby, associated our need for connection and closeness as a way to guarantee our survival.

The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. Research shows that people in secure relationships with a reliable lover live longer, happier. They suffer less from chronic diseases and have a better quality of sleep (Johnson, 2011). Not only are we social animals, we also need closeness and bonding.

Find your attachment mode

  • Are you feeling uncomfortable when being too close?

  • Do you lose interest in a relationship after a few weeks or feel easily trapped?

  • Do you often worry that your partner will stop loving you?

  • Do you tend to get very quickly attached to your romantic partner?

If you respond yes to these questions, you might be anxious or avoidant. However, there is an expiry date to blame our parents: history can be reverted and build up a secure form of attachment towards a secure, reliable partner is always possible.

Last but not least

Ladies and gentlemen (because this goes beyond gender), here is my advice as a Matchmaker and a lover: do not confuse twisted attachment with passionate love.

Willing to find out more?

If you are single and looking to find your secure partner and start your journey of self-exploration, you can book an appointment with me: belgium@berkeley-international.com .

Warmly,

Marjorie



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