Love Connection: An Attachment Perspective

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, most of us have love on the brain. Whether you’re gushing in anticipation or dreading a day filled with chocolate and the color pink, the following will help you use this oh so cheesy holiday to understand the importance of your relationship connection.

While there are individual differences and cultural differences in one’s need for intimacy and closeness, it is inherent in our human makeup to be connected rather than disconnected and isolated. Thus, our need to attach is somewhat universal.

Attachment theory is based off this exact idea; that we innately desire to be in close relationships. John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth pioneered this theory by studying children’s responses to attachment and bonding with their caregiver. Such bonding behavior is thought to have had an evolutionary advantage, as those who weren’t left to fend for themselves survived longer.

While this may sound a bit prehistoric, we operate from what is called an “emotional brain.” This emotional brain is our limbic system, which is essentially responsible for flight or fight responses.

You can imagine how this emotional brain can feel threatened when our very basic need, attachment, is not met in our primary adult relationship, our romantic relationship.

What does this mean for my relationship?

Attachment needs may originate with the need to establish security and bonding with a parent or caregiver. However, Dr. Sue Johnson, creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy, says this need later evolves into the need for  “secure emotional bond” with a partner.

For attachment styles, click here .

Lacking a Secure Emotional Bond

One issue we often see in couples is emotional distance. In some cases, such distance can lead to physical and emotional infidelity, as one partner feels disconnected, under appreciated, or misunderstood. Without that secure emotional bond, the relationship may feel unsafe and unreliable and can leave couples feeling out of sync.

Secure Emotional Bond= Better Sex?!

Securely attached couples tend to be more comfortable with openly expressing their needs and preferences. This open sharing allows you to tune into your partner and engage in what Sue Johnson calls synchrony sex, or sex that fulfills, satisfis and connects.

In a world where we are so connected through technology, it is often easy to be emotionally distant and disconnected from loved ones. It is a recurring project to stay emotionally connected with your partner; you have to nurture and protect it.

Johnson says, “rituals keep relationships safe in a distracting and chaotic world.” So take this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to keep the connection and emotional bond alive.

Resources

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Rachel Heller

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversation for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson

The Three Kinds of Sex by Dr. Sue Johnson- Huffington Post

Romantic Attachment Quiz from PsychCentral

Your Love Spot– relationship articles and blog posts from the web

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