Today’s episode focuses on how attachment styles play out in close relationships. I am joined by Rachel Blackston, who is a therapist in Orlando, Florida. Rachel begins today’s conversation by reading an essay about love and war in her marriage. It’s a beautiful and vulnerable piece that gives you a window into how insecure attachment plays out in a real-life marriage. I’m deeply grateful to Rachel for her willingness to dive head first into this very difficult and important arena. You can read more about Rachel at rachelblackston.com.
Join my email list…
Consider a Counseling Intensive in stunningly beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado!
For help with engaging your story in a group setting, consider the Allender Center’s Certificate Program.
Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
Today we are going to return to the subject of attachment, and particularly to how our attachment style plays out in our most intimate relationships.
If attachment is a new category for you, I highly recommend going back and listening to episodes 5 and 7 which lay out the foundation of attachment—what it is and why it matters so much.
Just by way of introduction or reminder, let me summarize avoidant attachment and ambivalent attachment which are the two categories that Rachel and I are going to talk about today.
First, avoidant attachment (Michael):
When your caregiver is often unavailable, dismissive, or rejecting, the child will develop an avoidant attachment—i.e, the child will become avoidant of attachment.
The child adapts by avoiding closeness and emotional connection to the parent.
Attachment is about feeling like your caregiver is there for you and responsive to you when you feel distressed (afraid, sad, mad, etc).
In the case of avoidant attachment, when the child becomes distressed, his caregiver does not provide sufficient comfort, care and connection. When the child tries to communicate his distress, his attempts have little to no effect on the parent.
So the child is forced to try to calm himself and regulate his own emotions.
Next, ambivalent attachment (Rachel):
A child will develop an ambivalent attachment when she experiences her primary caregiver as inconsistent and, at times, intrusive.
When the child becomes distressed, her caregiver may—or may not—provide soothing and comfort. It all depends on what is going on for the caregiver at that particular moment.
In other words, at times Mom is attuned and responsive to the child’s needs, but at other times she is too caught up in her own emotional needs and moods to focus on meeting the child’s needs.
The child learns that she cannot depend upon Mom to be attuned and responsive to her.
Never knowing what to expect, the child develops a sense of anxiety and uncertainty about whether she can depend upon her Mom or not.