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That spark of desire can smolder when least expected, that thing we often call love, may be romantic attachment. Anyone who has felt that intoxicating experience would say they were “in love.” Important in its own way, attachment must be addressed if one wishes to maximize the quality and longevity of their close intimate adventures. Love is not to be discounted, however, because it is a real magic permeating all of this reality to bring light even into the deepest dark underwater cave.


Love and Attachment

Attachment is very different from love even though they are often confused with one another. The two are actually polar opposites. Whereas love is unconditional and is never something that tries to control in any way, attachment is all about control which is why it often gets a bad rap. Attachment manifests itself in different people in different ways. Attachment can either make or break a family unit. It is all a matter of form and degree.

Some people believe there are different kinds or styles of love. Though certainly people will demonstrate their love in different ways, it is being submitted here that there really are not different kinds or styles. Love is universal, pervasive, and pure.

Attachment, on the other hand, has to do with one’s own relationship dynamics which can very a great deal from one person to another. Generally speaking, people tend to fall in one of four categories when it comes to their “style” of attachment: Secure, Anxious/Preoccupied, Fearful Avoidant, or Dismissive Avoidant.

Choose Love

In her article “Love versus Attachment,”1) life coach Shveitta, points out the difference between love and attachment. It seems pretty accurate but there does seem to be a bit of attachment demonization going on. Shveitta indicates that she would like to move her attachment to her daughter out of the way so that love can fill the space. This is peculiar because she admits that in attempting to keep our children safe we exert power and control over them which is definitely NOT love because love cannot ever control.

Doubtless, one of the reasons many have become celibate childless monks in an attempt to find peace and enlightenment is because as a “house holder,” which is to say someone who is raising a family, has to experience attachment to some degree and in some form otherwise certain behaviors conducive to protecting and providing. Attachment, being essentially the opposite of love, can definitely get in the way of anyone attempting to rid themselves of suffering. One must be somewhat possessive of one’s children to keep and care for them.

Love is something which cannot be given discriminately. One must love all and everything or one is not experiencing love. Love is a powerful warm soft energy form which comes through one’s instinctive awareness of the interconnectedness of all things. Love understands that separation of people from each other and the rest of the universe is an illusion because love knows it is the source of all creation.


That having been said, truthaboutdeception.com, maintains that there are different love styles as well. It is unclear whether or not these can all be considered manifestations of love. The following list is paraphrased from the article here: http://www.truthaboutdeception.com/relationship-issues/love-styles.html


Eros – To experience love in this way is to experience it as a passionate sexual but kind compassionate love often experienced at the beginning of a relationship.

Ludus – The claim here is that some people experience love as an emotional game. The article states that, “The goal or desire is to gain control over a partner through manipulation.” With this “love” style, apparently cheating and deception are utilized along with other methods to outmaneuver and totally control their “love” interest.

Storge – This is described as a gradual friendship based love where people get to know each other over time before passion is brought into the relationship.

Agape – A nurturing style of “love,” agape is based on a need to take care of a partner. Truthaboutdeception describes this as a more altruistic or selfless type of love.

Mania – The article explains that experiencing love as mania experience it as an out of control life altering phenomenon that, “…results in a complete loss of one’s identity.” Words like “crazy, impulsive and needy” are used. Easily used, people who experience this love get into it quickly but it is often found that such a relationship will tend to expire prematurely.

Pragma – As in “pragmatism” or “pragmatic,” this a style of “love” centered on practicality.


The style identifies the “love” styles as being associate with attachment styles described bellow


Eros & Agape – Secure Attachment Mania – Anxious Attachment Ludus – Dismissing Attachment

It may be interesting to note that Storge and Pragma are not listed here. This author speculates these rational approaches could be linked to Secure Attachment along with Eros & Agape. This is supposed because those who experience Secure Attachment seem to have had healthy nurturing experience in their childhood and certainly lead “balanced” lives. That being the case, it could be reasonably assumed that reasonable sounding “love” styles like Storge and Pragma would be practiced by those with Secure attachment because of their positive and healthy life experience.

Attachment: it is a Good Thing… When it is not Bad Thing

The rest of this article will focus primarily on attachment within the context of a romantic relationship. Interestingly, what is really attachment is usually called love. It can feel like love if one cannot discern the difference. To discern the difference, one must be mindful of one’s thoughts particularly during a difficult time in a relationship. One must ask oneself, “Are my thoughts and actions inspired by fear or love?” Keep in mind that anger is a fear reaction.

Initially, one may be concerned about whether they are experiencing love or attachment but, if love is understood for what it really is, it becomes more important to determine what style of attachment one exhibits and also that of their partner. Attachment is not as pure as love so must be carefully managed and, hopefully, overcome to a large extent. Love, on the other hand, will flood in when there is an absence of power and control.

Attachment can provide security and comfort but it call also be an abyss-spawned demon straight from the pit of hell. Understanding what your and your partner’s attachment styles are, and the nature of said attachment styles, can be vital if the relationship is to survive and prosper. A great test, among many online, can be found here: http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl

Four Attachment Styles

The four different attachment styles can be described as follows:

Secure

This attachment style is believed to exist in adults because their early childhood experience was characterized by a secure attachment with one’s caregiver (mother). A child will form this sort of attachment with a parent if their needs are met promptly and consistently. Secures have the most success in relationships. They will set reasonable boundaries within a relationship but does not exhibit the same sort of unhealthy fear-based responses to relationship challenges which the other styles tend to display.

Those with this attachment style are not only most suited to the longevity and satisfaction, they also tend to handle breakups fairly well mourning the loss rather than blaming themselves. Secures are happy whether they are in a relationship or not. This is the attachment style that anyone with sense would tend to prefer in a partner. Fortunately, it is believed that over fifty percent of individuals fall into this category. Unfortunately for single people they are usually “taken” because they find and maintain healthy relationships well.

It is believed by many that certain methods, such as cognitive psychology, that one can become more like a Secure through time and effort. It is often suggested, even outside attachment theory, that becoming secure in one’s own self and learning to be happy with or without a relationship is the way to make this happen. It can get much more involved though which is how some can justify charging exorbitant amount of money for products and services which are supposed to help you rid yourself of attachment issues.

During breakups, Secures are more likely to turn to friends and family for support and demonstrate a healthy grieving process. They are much less likely to turn to drugs and alcohol as a method for coping with heartbreak. Though perhaps the safest to breakup with, they are generally the last sort of person one would want to leave.

Anxious/Preoccupied

If a caregiver (ideally the mother) is inconsistent with meeting needs or is over-protective, their child will form an anxious or preoccupied attachment which will also manifest in their adult relationships later in life. The Anxious/Preoccupied attachment style long for the security of a relationship and desire intimacy to a fault. They tend to be fearful of losing their partner’s love or being abandoned by them so will be prone to demonstrate jealousy and other incredibly powerful negative emotions when they feel insecure in the relationship.

Anxious/Preoccupied attachment stylized individuals can be remarkably attentive, passionate, affectionate, and faithful. However, this type is also known to perpetrate lying, manipulation, stalking, and sometimes even violence when they find themselves insecure in a relationship. Verbal abuse is not uncommon with this attachment style. Most will only become hurtful on occasion and will almost immediately apologize. It isn’t the most difficult style to be in a relationship with, unless it crosses the line into criminal behavior, but they can be emotionally high-maintenance and can be, if one pardons the vernacular, a pain in the ass.

Having difficulty ending relationships and often trying to get their former partner back despite dysfunction, the anxious/preoccupied person may, intentionally or otherwise, make their partner hate them so much they can’t be around them anyway. This is a sad and sometimes ineffectual attempt to form a bulwark against further heartbreak. If unable to control their own thoughts and emotions, the anxious/preoccupied individual will often try to look for ways to blame the other for their own negative actions but, ultimately, the anxious/preoccupied person will always blame themselves for relationship problems whether they should or not.

Preoccupieds will tend to turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping method much more often than Secures and may neglect turning to friends and family for support as they should. According to psychlive.org2), “These people’s lives are not balanced: their insecurity leaves them turned against themselves and emotionally desperate in their relationships.”

When trying to make a relationship work with this style, predictability and consistency is very helpful. The Preoccupied will tell their partner how they feel, for better or for worse. Attempting to understand and empathize with the Preoccupied will go a long while. Reassurance about the relationship may often be necessary.

This happens to be the attachment style of the author although Secure tendencies are present as well.

Dismissive or Avoidant

It is said that if a caregiver does not quite have the time and resources to go around, the children involved may form this sort of attachment style. Dismissives have had to learn to take care of themselves to a large degree so does not like counting on anyone else so avoids dependency and commitment. They have a much greater propensity to cheat on, lie to, neglect, and/or end relationships with their partner.

Dismissives are uncomfortable with and even fear intimacy. Being depended on and depending on others is avoided. They are often irritated with and display negative feelings and hostility toward family members. The will often times avoid resolving relationship issues because of the comfortable distance such problems afford them.

Dismissives often have a strong tendency to turn to drugs and alcohol rather than friends and family in coping with a breakup. As per psychalive, “These people’s lives are not balanced: they are inward and isolated, and emotionally removed from themselves and others.” Therapy may help the individual learn how to foster healthy relationships but, generally, relationships with this attachment style is best avoided by other attachment styles. That having been said, it is important to remember, as the test linked to indicates, these are not ridged “this or that” conditions. One may have strong Dismissive tendencies but may be otherwise Secure.

Fearful-Avoidant

These people experienced what can be described as “disorganized attachments” as children. They may seem like a Secure in a relationship at times but, according to www.psychalive.org, “These people’s lives are not balanced: they do not have a coherent sense of themselves nor do they have a clear connection with others.” Great effort must be taken on the part of a fearful-avoidant to combat attachment issues; otherwise they will find that they are “not relationship material” because of their Dismissive qualities as much as the Preoccupied aspect of their nature longs for deep intimacy.

The most difficult to predict, this style can exhibit characteristics of both Preoccupieds and Dismissives. The Fearful-avoidant will experience mixed emotions so can seem “hot” some times and “cold” other times. Much like the Anxious/Preoccupied style, people with the Fearful-Avoidant style will feel a need to be close to a partner but will, at the very same time, will want to push their partner away. Like other unfavorable attachment styles, they may not even be consciously aware of the emotional turmoil their behavior can cause.

One moment they are getting jealous and going to great lengths to secure their “territory” and the next callously pushing their partner aside without regard to their emotional needs. This can be a frustrating personality to be in a committed relationship with. Couple’s counseling from a competent healthcare professional well aquatinted with attachment theory may help.

This attachment style is prone to depression and substance abuse.

In Conclusion

As can be discerned from this article, attachment is not necessarily bad but three of the attachment styles are unhealthy. These conditions can be managed and even improved through time and effort. Seeking the advice of a counselor may be a boon. For more information on attachment go to truthaboutdeception.com Of particular interest is this article which, not only explains each style, also provides a classic example demonstrating how each style reacts to a particular scenario: http://www.truthaboutdeception.com/relationship-issues/attachment-styles.html

Understanding one’s and one’s partner’s attachment style may make the difference between a long and satisfying relationship (and friendship after it is over) and extreme emotional trauma which may culminate in and explosive break-up where both individuals may end up hating the other. The next Caprigonian article on this subject will address how to find balance in one’s life which will help them think, feel, and behave more like a Secure.

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Psychology


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