Changed my life: connection and attachment in my relationship
I've been hesitant to post about this in case I'm dreaming. But it's real and here to stay, and it's time I talked about the thing that has radically changed my relationship with my partner (and strengthened my positive worldview a bit too).
It's a book called Hold Me Tight.
One day a month ago before we started really reading it, we flipped the book to a random page, instantly saw our relationship reflected there, & shared a moment of shock at how accurate it was.
From there it's been a whiplash of positive change.
Years of couple's therapy never got us to where this book has.
Hold Me Tight is about attachment and connection. Turns out, that attachment theory you’ve heard of about children and their parents doesn’t just magically go away when you become an adult. It still applies! All of us still need secure attachment throughout our lives to be happy, feel safe, and grow as a person. Intimate relationships are that attachment.
Before reading this book together, I would make multiple “bids” for connection each day (big or small moments asking for positive confirmation of our attachment), and when those were turned down or met with conflict, I would feel alone and hurt. That cycle would cement itself by building more and more, sparking more aggressive bids for connection, which were met with more aggressive resistance.
Now, we understand those moments are of utmost importance to both of us, and we should not only look out for those bids for connection and answer with affirming attachment (empathetic listening, physical closeness in everyday moments, etc)., but we should also create connection outside of being asked. We should remind each other that we love each other even in trying times, and demonstrate through action that we recognize we both need that attachment.
Now let me clear up that part about couple’s therapy not getting us here.
Our experience in therapy* gave us a lot of information about ourselves and each other, and we don’t regret doing it. We still use what we learned every day.
*[I want to note that there are therapists that teach what the book teaches, but not ours. Plus there are so many different types of therapies out there. So we still always recommend therapy!]
However, it only gave us tools to handle the symptoms of the problem (conflict once it started) and not the root of the problem (lack of connection/secure attachment).
Hold Me Tight reveled what was underneath every conflict we’ve ever had!
I have no idea how other couples’ start to change their relationship once learning this stuff, but it was like an overnight difference for us. Instantly we realized where we had gone wrong, and were able to stop the pattern and realize we just wanted connection.
For me, this is one of those huge fundamental life-knowledge building blocks that gets set into the foundation of all other learning.
It fits perfectly with what I want to be: someone who operates always from compassion. Asking for connection is something all humans do (even if the way they do it is hurtful), and recognizing that is imperative for operating from a place of compassion. Everyone deserves secure attachment and connection.
Secure attachment has ripple effects into every aspect of my life, just as it does in all children and adult’s lives. It lets people of all ages grow and become more independent. We feel safe having a home base to come back to that is always supporting us.
My thoughts have started exploring other aspects of myself and my life where I can now break through what was holding me back and become an even better version of myself. I can reach for things I didn’t have the happiness to reach for before. My life got an injection of happiness-fuel that I always thought was divvied out randomly to people, and I just wasn’t one of those people. I was wrong! All I needed was attachment. Connection now can undo years of trauma I experienced that was in itself a lack of connection.
Attachment is good. We humans need each other. We are not meant to be alone. We are not meant to strong-arm our way through our own feelings. Individualism is a lie that modern culture pushes on us and it frustrates me that I have been made to waste all this time trying to find connection by fixing myself, as if there was something wrong with me that needed fixing. Nothing is wrong with me, I am just like every mammal on earth. I become happy when my partner and I revel in our connection. I wish I had been educated about attachment and what good connection looks like years ago!
I recommend everyone in a relationship read this book. And if you read it together, I recommend the workbook too (it has a green cover).
And if you’re like me and passionate about understanding humanity from a place of compassion, I think you’d learn a lot about yourself and everyone from reading this book regardless of if you’re in an intimate relationship or not.