I hunt in a local bookstore for a book called Connections that just might explain why I need so much from connections to others. I cannot find the book Connections, but I do buy instead “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find–And Keep–Love.” This little treatise looks didactic and simplistic.
Within, I find immerse relief and a satisfying explanation to my relationship woes. The authors divide personal Attachment styles into one healthy style called Secure (50% of the population) and two unhealthy styles called Anxious (25%) and Avoidant (25%).
Because of my lonely childhood, I practice the Anxious style. I worry a lot about relationships. I need to get closer to my partner, require frequent reinforcing signs of connection, and deflate upon separation. Greg practices the Avoidant style, or at least that is what I experienced. He separates me from much of his world, prefers not to reveal too much of himself to me, and relies on self-sufficiency.
Avoidants tend to date a lot of partners, but not other Avoidants, so the clash is common and calamitous between Anxious and Avoidants. The Anxious partner pushes towards closeness; the Avoidant partner pulls away for separation. Anxious-Avoidant relationships can drown with uncertainty, drama, emotional highs and lows, and nagging dissatisfaction.
The book’s reasoned explanations fill me with peace and compassion – compassion not just for myself, but for Greg, the relationship, and our multiple breakups. We played our roles not maliciously, but as best we could. I look more objectively and calmly now upon these two theater players.
After reading, I’m more aware of my relationship traits and needs, needs that are not likely to go away. Yet I can work with my strengths, nurture my failings, and slowly enact change.
Will we get back together? My frantic Anxious style hopes so. I do recognize our perhaps intractable incompatibility. This block can now be acknowledged, mapped, shifted, and possibly eroded, but only if we both work at it.