When reading about securely attached individuals, do any of you scratch your head and wonder how these anomalies exist in the world? Okay, maybe it’s just me. But these individuals have been coined the super humans of evolution and make up roughly 50% of the population.
When first starting out on my journey, I had no context of what a secure attachment should look like. Can any of you relate? Trying to understand the way that a secure individual thinks and functions was like embarking on a road trip with no map or directions. Often times I felt like I was going in circles and not really making any ground.
Psychological research has opened some amazing doors and given us a road map to understand attachment. Science has revealed that secure partners have a positive view of themselves and a positive view of others. They therefore expect their partners to be loving and responsive and don’t worry about rejection or abandonment. They feel extremely comfortable with intimacy and closeness and have a remarkable ability to express their desires and needs.
It sounds like some kind of super power doesn’t it? To perceive both ourselves and others in a positive light and not be sensitive to the negative cues of the world? If I could have any super power, that would be it! (So what if it makes me a nerd. Don’t judge). I am convinced that the “S” on superman’s costume really stands for secure. He wouldn’t have been able to help others without a secure perspective of the world!
In their book Attached, Amir Levine and Rachel Heller give us insight into the thoughts and behaviour patterns of securely attached individuals. Understanding how the secure attachment style functions, helps to rid us of bewilderment and provides us with a concrete goal to work towards. They explain that secured attached individuals are:
Great conflict busters: during a fight they don’t feel the need to act defensively or to injure or punish their partner, and so prevent the situation from escalating.
Mentally flexible: they are not threatened by criticism. They’re willing to reconsider their ways, and if necessary, revise their beliefs and strategies.
Effective communicators: they expect others to be understanding and responsive, so expressing their feelings freely and accurately to their partners comes naturally to them.
Not game players: they want closeness and believe others want the same, so why play games?
Comfortable with closeness, unconcerned about boundaries: they seek intimacy and aren’t afraid of being “enmeshed.” Because they aren’t overwhelmed by a fear of being slighted (as are the anxious) or the need to deactivate (as are the avoidants), they find it easy to enjoy closeness, whether physical or emotional.
Quick to forgive: they assume their partner’s intentions are good and are therefor likely to forgive them when they do something hurtful.
Inclined to view sex and emotional intimacy as one: they don’t need to create distance by separating the two (by being close either emotionally or sexually but not both).
Treat their partners like royalty: when you’ve become part of their inner circle, they treat you with love and respect.
Secure in their power to improve the relationship: they are confident in their positive beliefs about themselves and others, which makes this assumption logical.
Responsible for their partners wellbeing: they expect others to be responsive and loving towards them and so are responsive to others needs.
Recognizing and utilizing these guidelines in a relationship takes awareness and conscious effort. It is unfortunate that we cannot be granted superpowers or wishes because it would certainly make the process easier. But it has been my experience that when things come easily to us, we often don’t learn to value and appreciate them. Going through the process of learning in order to develop a lasting relationship, teaches us to appreciate what we have built.
Security in your relationship is attainable! Begin by learning from and implementing the secrets of the securely attached and you are off to the races.
Stay tuned next week where we will discuss which attachment styles are the most and least compatible.
Wishing you love and connection,
Levine, A. & Heller, R. (2010). Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—And Keep—Love. Penguin Group, NY: New York.