We want healthy relationships... with our partners, our kids, our friends... and it's important to recognize when things are NOT healthy and we need a change
And it would be nice to have some idea what we are aiming for... what would it even be like to have a healthy, secure relationship?
In technical terms, what I'm talking about here is secure attachment...
Secure attachment leads to more confidence, resiliency, and a general ability to connect well and easily with people.
It's what we want for our children.
It's what we want for ourselves.
And even if we didn't have a secure attachment with a parent ourselves, we can have this experience later in life (called earned secure attachment) and this can re-pattern and heal us in profound ways.
I think it's helpful to have some idea what we are aiming for. Because our original patterning will often lead to confusion about what a healthy relationship feels like.
I often talk about it this way:
Think of one of the most basic elements of relating,
Moving toward and moving apart.
In any relationship, we move toward and we move apart. And what happens when we do?
In a healthy, secure relationship - you can move toward and connect, and you can move away and feel secure that you are still connected.
In less healthy dynamics - relationships can get stuck - stuck together or stuck apart.
When you get stuck together you must shape yourself and work hard to keep the connection. You feel you need to be what the other needs and expects because if you don't you will lose them. And you can't move away without feeling that it's over...
When you get stuck apart, you are living parallel lives - often doing tasks together but not really feeling connected. This can look really good from the outside (and often keeping up appearances is a big value) but inside this feels like a desert - empty and lonely.
In secure relationships you have freedom to move.
You can move toward and away (and the other can too) and you trust you will find each other, at least most of the time.
It also means you can miss each other, not get each other, make mistakes and misunderstand each other... and find each other again.
It isn't perfect all the time. You don't always agree or get along.
And it's okay. Something inside you feels ok with this. When you feel 'apart' physically, emotionally, even intellectually... you trust you will still have your connection. It won't tear you apart from each other.
Our attachment patterning is such a basic and deep part of our lives and affects every relationship we have.
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be writing about the 5 elements we need to experience secure attachment.
If we know what we need, sometimes it is easier to seek it - or recognize it. Also to seek to provide it for our children.
In the meantime, you might begin to notice what happens for you in your relationships when you move toward and when you move away. Or when others move toward or away from you.
Remember gentleness - bring gentleness to whatever you find here.