The Joan of HeARtaChe.
Why do we attach ourselves to the wrong relationships?
Two months ago, I read the most profound book on love in my 33 years of figuring out what the hell it really means, and more so, figuring out how the hell does someone find it? For good...
I’ve always been a student of relationships, self-improvement, and psychology. My book shelf ranges from the 5 Love Languages to The Four Agreements. I’ve read them all. I’ve read blogs, I’ve seen a therapist, and I’ve spent 1000’s of hours talking with friends
unsuccessfully about perfecting the art and time of perfectly crafted texts, playing it cool, having him chase you, being more independent, and all the things we’re supposed to do to go against our innate feelings.
Because, we’re often taught, emotions scare men away.
Until now, there hasn’t been a book that’s spoken to me more. I'm about to rock your world. Like, I wish I had a money-back guarantee I could promise for it.
I’m actually pissed off, but in a good way, I guess.
It’s ironic, the book I now “love” the most, in fact, left me disappointed, angry, and mad at myself when I finished it. Is your favorite book supposed to do that to you?
Yes, when the moral of the story is so spot on that you’re mad you didn’t learn the fascinating concepts 10 years earlier!
What if I could have read a book as my early-twenty something self that would have saved me from several heartaches and broken relationships? I guess if I hadn’t made so many MISTAKES on love and finding what I thought it was, I wouldn’t be here writing stories for you.
The Joan of heARtaChe. Enter, @thirtywaves.
I don’t want to go into every chapter, because frankly, I don’t think I could ever write it as well or communicate the concepts as scientifically detailed as the two authors have. But the main jist of it is, we all have different attachment styles AND there are smarter ways to find a partner that falls in line with ours.
What’s an attachment style?
It’s the way in which we interact and behave with others. It’s our innate instinct for how we react in relationships. Most importantly, it’s how we choose our partners.
Do you feel more fairly preoccupied with your romantic relationships? Do you crave love and intimacy, but timing is always off when you’re dating or there are a lot of hot and cold moments? You go on a few great dates, then there’s a slump and you feel the person pulling back? You’re probably anxious.
Ever feel like once you start to know someone, you crave more independence after a few weeks or dates? You start using distancing strategies without realizing it (avoiding your phone, making other plans, etc). You avoid opening up and prefer to constantly have fun than settle down? Always looking for your perfect match or romanticizing a past relationship with every other person? You’re probably avoidant.
The 3 Attachment Styles.
There are three different attachment styles: anxious, avoidant, and secure.
Definition: “People are often preoccupied with relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back”. This happens in an interesting way. “Every time you get mixed messages, your attachment system is activated and you become preoccupied with the relationship...and what you’re really doing is equating activated attachment with passion.”
Behavior: Person attempts to…re-establish contact, keeping score (paying attention to how long it took the other person to respond or waiting for them to make the first “make-up” move), acting negative when they do get back to you, making threats to end the relationship (“we’re not getting along, I can’t do this anymore”) while hoping THIS will stop them from leaving.
Definition: “People equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
Behavior: Saying “I’m not ready to commit”, focusing on small imperfections, pining after an ex, pulling away when things are going well or starting to progress, forming relationships with an impossible future (someone married or long-distance)
Definition: “People feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.”
Behavior: These people are not game players, they’re great at conflict or confrontation, mentally flexible, comfortable with closeness, quick to forgive, secure in their power to improve a relationship.
Statistics of the Dating Pool.
It all made sense! The biggest group of people in the dating pool are avoidants. It was simple psychology. The people that avoid intimacy and relationships are more likely to be single. Secure people are comfortable attaching themselves to relationships so they are not in the dating pool often, and if so, not for very long.
AND, if you’re wondering if avoidants date other avoidants, it’s not very likely because they are both so avoidant to each other that there isn’t enough glue to even form a bond in the first place.
“When you meet someone new, the probability that they have an avoidant attachment style is high -- much higher than their relative size in the population. Not only are they recycled back in the dating pool more quickly, but they are not dating one another (at least not for long), nor are they dating secure people, because secures are less available. Who are they meeting? That’s right: potential partners with an anxious attachment style.”
Anxious people attach to Avoidants.
This is why mini-relationships occur…and why we date the wrong people, over and over.
So, if we’re not secure, why do we attach to our opposites? The book explains that the opposing styles are actually compliment to one another.
“Each reaffirms the other’s beliefs about themselves and about relationships...each style is drawn to reenact a familiar script over and over again”
Avoidants defensive perception that are strong and independent without someone gets triggered, and for anxious people, the belief that they will be let down by others or they want more intimacy than their partner can provide is confirmed.
After reading this book I thought about my past relationships (the book has a few written exercises that get you to think more objectively about them). For years, and years, I kept romances going and convinced myself I wanted to be in them because my attachment style was being triggered. I liked people more because they were activating avoidant strategies. I feared that I’m too picky and was only compatible with few people. Each time, it felt as though it was my last chance to find happiness. I usually caved and texted first if there was a gap in our communication (when you’re secure you don’t feel as many gaps), I’d keep score to play the perfect game of easy breezy, etc. You can guess it, I’m anxious. And more so, almost all these men in the blog have been avoidants (at least with me).
can you change attachment styles?
While our attachment styles are pretty engrained in our psyche, the good news is, we all have a chance to move our styles towards being more secure (the secret to a happy relationship).
I’ve also seen it work oppositely where a man/woman is secure in a relationship and becomes avoidant/anxious depending on the breakup.
What you’ll learn from this book:
I see this book as a set of tools to:
Recognize when you’re attachment style is being triggered
Tips on how to be more secure
When to get out of dating scenarios that will not benefit your happiness
How to feel more comfortable being yourself on dates; communicate your genuine needs and feelings
What I also love is that I feel like I have more freedom to be myself and to talk about what I’m looking for in my life. If my friends and family know where my heart lies, why can’t someone I’m dating? The right secure person will want to be a part of your life.
Please note, that I’m not proposing you tell all of your hopes and truths in the beginning of dating someone like your future children’s names or unrealistic timelines on dates. I still come from the school of thought that men and women are primal human beings where men attach value to things that they’ve had to work for.
After reading this book, you might naturally be more independent and secure enough for them to win your love.
I couldn’t recommend it more.
Pro Tip: I’d recommend getting the paperback (instead of kindle or audio) as it has a thorough quiz that’s easiest to take in the book. I’m a dork and also highlighted my favorite paragraphs. A book this good takes time to learn and sometimes need to be referenced.