Like many people, my parents raised me to be an independent person and not rely on someone else to be successful.
Attachment is an emotional bond with another person.
Attachment is about survival. Our mammalian brains are wired for survival and this means wired for attachment. This bond also helps the survival of children and people of all ages. Finding a few trustworthy adults to rely on for support and love allows children to feel safe to venture into the world.
Sue Johnson is the founder of Emotion-Focused Therapy. She believes that romantic partners can meet attachment needs by creating healthy interdependence. Individuals can venture into daily life feeling self-confident, strong, and able to manage life's tribulations if they have a safe and secure haven of attachment.
Internalized messages from childhood can cause people to struggle to ask for their attachment needs. These individuals end up feeling lonely, unheard, and resentful.
Sue Johnson outlines how to be emotionally present for your partner:
Accessibility: Are you there for me? If I reach for you, will you be there? Can I depend on you to make me a priority?
Responsiveness: Will you comfort me when I need it? Will you empathize with me? Will you express sensitivity and compassion?
Engagement: Are you interested, curious, and drawn to me? Will you express your affection to me in your words, gestures, way you look at me and/or touch me? Will you accept my affection in the same ways?
Partners build strong emotional bonds of connection when they turn toward each other. Empathy and understanding allow for less conflict and better communication.
If you are struggling with relationships, seeing a therapist may help. Set up a free phone consultation with one of our therapists to find out more.
For more information on relationships through the attachment lens:
An Emotionally Focused Workbook for Couples by Veronica Kallos-Lilly and Jennifer Fitzgerald.
Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
Attached The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find--and Keep—Love By Amir Levine, Rachel Heller