The cycle: build a long-term relationship (PART 2)

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In the previous part of the series, you found out what love is and what its components are. You answered questions about yourself, your partner, and the whole system, i.e. the family.

*It is very important that you have these questions along with the answers with you now. This will help you to clarify your attachment styles and distinguish the systems in which you function.

Let’s start perhaps with what a bond is…

A bond is a closeness, it is attachment. It is for this reason that John Bowlby created the attachment theory, which is characterized by the bonding pattern of children’s experiences with the objects of attachment. On this basis, closeness in later relationships is built.

Put simply, as kids we become attached to certain people, it could be mum, dad or other loved ones. We form a relationship with them and learn to function within them. Years later, we can see the connections between the earlier relationship and the new one we are now forming. Our patterns are unchanged. Among other things, this is why it is often said that we choose our partners in imitation of our parents – we replicate our previously built attachment with our partner in a similar way and understand their principles.

Find the answers to the questions in the previous part of the series. Look closely at the questions about the level of intimacy. Try to answer them also in the context of your parents i.e.

When you were younger, did you talk to your parents about your emotions?

Did you feel a sense of acceptance from your parents?

Did you feel understood by them?

Compare your answers regarding your partner and you and your relationship with your parents. What are the convergences and what are the differences? What do you think they stem from? Consider whether you see in yourself a tendency to seek a partner similar to the people with whom you formed attachments as a child.

We will now distinguish between several attachment styles.

Choose one that is closest to you:

  • trusting attachment – this is based on a completely healthy relationship with your parents. You feel a great sense of security, you are aware that there is someone who will always help you. A person you can turn to with a problem. You don’t feel trapped or stifled in any way. Your parents were, or still are, sensitive to your needs. You feel that you can rely on them

  • Secondary attachment strategies- are based on a lack of availability by your parents, low sensitivity, or a source of anxiety. In this case, there are two main types to be distinguished, which are quite the opposite extreme:

Hyper-activating strategy – you talk about the problem exaggeratedly and focus on the difficulties and stress. You need a lot of support from others. You ruminate and dwell on your thoughts. You have moments when you wind yourself up and can’t stop thinking about something. You often escalate conflicts and need to dominate. You are characterized by tenacity

Where does this come from?

Most likely you were able to express your emotions and feelings as a child. You learned to pay attention to your needs. Your parents may have been available and sensitive towards you, but also unpredictable. You may have learned that bluntly expressing your feelings leads to attention being paid to you, which in turn leads to a sense of security.

Deactivating strategy-You don’t talk about your problems and don’t seek support. You deny your need for closeness. You try to deal with stress yourself because you do not externalize your emotions. The script of your thinking is the maxim “count on yourself”. You avoid conflict and are generally submissive. You are characterized by agreeableness.

Where does this come from?

Most likely your parents were insensitive and unresponsive to your emotional states. They may have had problems expressing their thoughts and feelings. The lack of sensitivity and remoteness may have been related to your parents’ problems such as your mother’s depression or your mother’s substance use.

Consider that you may exhibit different types of strategies depending on the context. The same may be true for your partner.

Short task:

Pay attention to what you say and write down for 1-2 days your observations with a brief description of your behavior. Then, for each situation you write down, write down the type of strategy you used to behave. Do the same with your partner’s behavior. This is not a long list. On the contrary, draw attention to key situations that put you in a high emotional state (causing happiness, sadness upset).

So let’s introduce the word “SYSTEM”

The systemic perspective allows us to see and feel the whole of the relationship, without separating the relationship into two individual entities. Here we do not think about ourselves or our partner, but about ‘us’ together. We act in such a way that we both feel comfortable and we provide, or rather, should provide, a sense of security for each other. The issue of understanding, support, and acceptance is also important here. It is only with these factors that we will be able to talk about the system at all.

To ponder:

Do you do a lot of things together?

Do you express yourself in the form of “we” when telling others?

Assign a number from 1 to 3 to each question (one being the lowest criterion, i.e. definitely not, and three being the highest, i.e. definitely yes).

Exactly as in the previous part of the series, I will be asking you to collect all the answers to the questions from both Part 1 and Part 2 for the third part of our series.

The third part will focus on much more practice. You will be able to reflect on your relationship yourself through various tasks as well as questions. You will also make use of the answers to the questions from parts 1 and 2. It is through all this that you will notice a very important factor in relationships which is narrative, i.e. the way you tell and perceive reality.

Aneta Sznicer

Aneta Sznicer

Founder of Mood & Read, HR specialist, copywriter, marketer, and soon to be psychologist. I help people achieve their goals by teaching social skills. Personally, I love playing the piano, dancing and singing. Anything to do with music helps me to find myself in reality. If you listen carefully, you will be able to hear your emotions. If you are able to hear them, you will know yourself even better and stronger. Thank you for visiting my website. It is a pleasure to get to know you.

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