Many of us haven’t had enough experience with secure attachment in relationships, so even though we might be clear on our attachment wounds, it’s difficult to envision, trust or embody something more ideal.
I believe it’s important to have a clear model to work towards as we seek to repair our relationship wounds and earn secure attachment with our loved ones. So here’s a list of some of the qualities expressed by securely attached adults:
* They have reality-based optimism for the future.
* They have a basic trust in themselves and others, with both men and women.
* They have easy affect and nervous system regulation in relationships.
* They find it easy to maintain a natural rhythm of alone time and connectedness.
* They can be “alone together” in the same room as another.
* They are comfortable with comings-and-goings and can miss someone without becoming depressed.
* They’re well-attuned to others, can stay present with intimacy, and know when the connection feels off.
* They can give others the benefit of the doubt when appropriate.
* They can both initiate and receive repair attempts.
* At least 80% of the time, they think, feel and express positive feedback towards their partner.
* Their radar for danger is functional.
* They don’t endure bad situations and can leave unhealthy relationships relatively easily, confident that they’ll be ok.
* They’re clear about their own needs and express them directly.
* They address conflict directly.
* They are protective of their partners, both from outside harm and within the relationship.
Some of us are really clear that some of these qualities completely elude us.
Some of us have experienced or have healed into a more secure relational style but still have work to do in some areas.
Some of us exhibit most of these qualities to a fairly high degree most of the time, but wish we could be more consistent.
Some of us are mostly secure but certain relationships seem to hijack us into more anxious or avoidant states.
It’s ALL normal. The ways we’ve adapted to not-quite-good-enough parenting or partnering are reasonable responses to deficient or limited relationships.
But when we block repair and connection attempts, or when we keep a death grip hold on justifying our current behaviour and resist working to earn secure attachment, I think we have to ask ourselves,
Is this a realistic way to get my needs met?
In other words, is this dynamic moving in the direction of more security for me and my partner?
The most important thing to keep in mind as you seek to heal into easy, relaxed, and powerfully bonded relationships is that secure attachment is both a skill set and a physiological state that is attainable, learnable, practicable and sustainable over the long term.
This article is based on the teachings of Diane Poole Heller.
I’ve also written other articles on attachment/abandonment:
And recorded a three-part podcast on Healing The Abandonment Wound where I talk at length about the relationship between abandonment and addiction, as well as spiritual depression.