How Your Attachment Style Affects Your Relationships
The way we communicate has a lot to do with our attachment style, which was formed early in our development. This style also plays a critical role in how we approach, interact, respond and react to our partner as we attempt to resolve conflict. This can be a good or a not-so-good thing depending on our individual styles. Understanding your own attachment style will provide a window into your vulnerabilities and strengths within the relationships in your life.
Our model of attachment influences how we get our needs met and the process in which we go about getting our needs met in relationships. Ironically, unless you know your attachment style, people often find partners that confirm our models – meaning if we grew up with an insecure attachment pattern, we will often seek out in an attempt to duplicate similar patterns as adults. We do this even though these relationships are unhealthy and often hurt us.
For example, meet Michael and Susan**
Michael and Susan have been together for 7 years. When they first met, Susan had a dismissive and avoidant style. She recognized that she could - at times - easily detach from others and had a tendency to avoid intimacy. She wanted to change this but knew it would take some significant work and introspection on her part. Her parents were never emotionally available – but available in other ways. Their divorce also had an impact on her life; as a result, she had a tendency to 'check out' in her relationships and appear somewhat complacent. However, that is not how she felt - that was just how she coped. Susan carried this same style through much of her adult life. It wasn't until she met Michael that she realized her relationship pattern and made changes so that she could create a healthier relationship with him. Michael on the other hand, was a secure person and provided the environment and the 'space' to help her grow. He challenged her when something came up and was able to communicate with her in such a way that made her feel safe - safe enough to acknowledge her vulnerabilities while simultaneously learning how to open up and feel more secure in their relationship.
What’s your style?
A person with an anxious attachment will feel insecure about their partner’s feelings and feel unsafe in the relationship. They become clingy and demanding. Because anxious people bond quickly, they don't take the time to assess if their partner can meet their needs. They jump right in! They tend to see the 'we' and what they share in common, idealize their partner, and overlook potential issues. If their partner acts independent, they will interpret this as they are leaving and affirm their fears. For example, if their partner is interacting with other people, they might interpret this as ‘they don’t love me.’ They are anxious about the relationship, where it is, where it is going. Because relationships have some uncertainty about them, this often gets interpreted as unstable, which encourages more anxiety in the anxious person.
A person with this type of attachment will feel that, in order to get their needs met, they will have to be with that person all the time for the sake of reassurance. To support this theory, they actually choose a person who is isolated and hard to be with, which only reinforces their belief. They often feel ‘desperate in relationships and have an ‘emotional hunger’ (Firestone). They look to their partner to rescue or complete them (Firestone). Their sense of safety is through clinging to their partner.
A person with this type of attachment style is dismissive and distant. They appear emotionally detached. They feel the way to get your needs met is to act as though you don’t have any needs. A person with this style will choose a partner who is more demanding or possessive. People with this style tend to lead inward lives; they deny the importance of connection, of others, can easily detach and shut down emotionally (Firestone).
4. Fearful Avoidant.
A person with this attachment style lives in a place of ambivalence – unsure and afraid of being too close or too distant from others. They try and keep their feelings at bay, but this ultimately becomes too arduous. Because they are unable to avoid their anxiety or run from their feelings, they are emotionally overwhelmed and experience emotional storms. They often live in an ambivalent state in which they are afraid of being too close to
or too distant from others. They attempt to keep their feelings at bay but are unable to. Their relationships are rocky or dramatic. They have fears of abandonment, but also with being intimate (Firestone).
When a person has a secure attachment style, they are confident and are able to navigate and interact with others. They are can meet their own needs as well as others. Parents understand what a baby needs and are able to provide it. They are highly attuned to their needs. They are more satisfied in their relationships and feel secure and connected. They can move more freely in relationships. Secure people are able to reassure their partners and provide support in times of distress and can equally go to their partner when they feel distressed.
How to change your from anxious or avoidant to secure..
- Learn how to express and honor your emotional needs. What are your emotional needs?
- Identify triggers that reinforce your attachment style. What are your triggers? Where do they stem from? What could you do differently to overcome and work through your triggers?
- Look for relationship patterns. Based on your style, what type of people do you seek out? Is there a pattern? What could be a different direction to take with relationships? Do you take time off from relationships to examine what went wrong and your contribution?
- Practice acceptance of self and your style. Accepting how we feel, without judgment, gets us to a better place, faster.
- Learn to react less and resolve more conflict. Look at the element of compromise. How do you react? What place do you come from when you react the way you do? What are the feelings that arise from your reactions?
- Learn to be assertive and use your voice. What are your needs, your values? What makes you feel unsafe? How can you communicate with your partner in a safe way to get your needs met but also honor theirs as well.
- Seek out therapy to learn how to become more secure and find those people who are capable of a secure attachment. Even if you are more anxious or avoidant, but finding a partner that is more secure, you will also learn how to become more secure. A good therapist can also help you make changes on your own, make internal changes, that will ultimately change how you respond in a new relationship.
Advisors Will Be Extinct in 5 Years Unless…
I’ve had financial advisors for more than 40 years. Not once in those years have I called my advisor to find out what stock/funds I should buy or sell. But I have called to find out where I should get my first mortgage, when to sell my house, or how much income I could get in retirement.
In short -- and I think I’m pretty typical – I was looking for financial advice, as it relates to my life.
Here’s the disconnect, what most advisors do is simply manage their clients’ assets. They determine what to buy, and what to sell, they think about risk management, about growing their practice by finding new clients and about getting paid.
Historically that has been the business model. But as more women take control over financial assets, they, like me, will be looking for a different experience. And unless the financial community is willing to change ….. advisors, as they are today will be extinct in five years.
Advisors who want to survive will have to do a lot more than just manage money – they will have to provide genuine “advice”. That means doing what’s right for the client, not pushing product and pretending it’s advice.
Women especially, but all investors generally, are becoming more and more cynical. They says, “If I want advice about reducing my debt, that’s what I want and not ‘here’s more debt’ because that’s what my advisor gets paid for! And if saving taxes is what I want then saving taxes should take precedent over selling me a product.”
You may be thinking that spending your time providing advice isn’t lucrative but the reality is that in the long run – it pays off in spades. The advisors who take the time to build real relationships with clients, who provide advice as it relates to their clients’ lives, even when there is no immediate financial benefit to themselves, those who don’t simply push product – are the ones who over time have the most successful practices.
Generally women understand and value service, but they will say, “If I’m paying, I want to know what I’m paying for: Is it for returns? Is it for advice? Is it for administration? I want to know. Then I can make up my mind what’s worth it and what isn’t.”
Investing is becoming a commoditized business and technology is replacing research that no one else can find. Today the average advisor is hard pressed to consistently beat the markets, and with women emerging as the client of the future, unless they start providing real advice, their jobs will likely be extinct in five years.
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