Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind – and Keep – Love
Decoding Relationship Behavior
• Only two weeks into dating this guy and already I’m making myself miserable worrying that he doesn’t find me attractive enough and obsessing about whether or not he’s going to call!I know that once again I’ll manage to turn all my fears about not being good enough into a self-fulfilling prophecy and ruin yet another chance at a relationship!
• What’s wrong with me? I’m a smart, good-looking guy with a successful career. I have a lot to offer. I’ve dated some terrific women, but inevitably, after a few weeks I lose interest and start to feel trapped. It shouldn’t be this hard to find someone I’m compatible with.
• I’ve been married to my husband for years and yet feel completely alone. He was never one to discuss his emotions or talk about the relationship, but things have gone from bad to worse. He stays at work late almost every weeknight and on weekends he’s either at the golf course with friends or watching the sports channel on TV. There’s just nothing to keep us together. Maybe I’d be better off alone.
Each of these problems is deeply painful, touching upon the innermost core of people’s lives. And yet no one explanation or solution fits the bill. Each case seems unique and personal; each stems from an endless number of possible root causes. Deciphering them would require a deep acquaintance with all the people involved. Past history, previous relationships, and personality type are just a few of the avenues that a therapist would need to pursue. This, at least, is what we, as clinicians in the field of mental health, were taught and believed, until we made a new discovery—one that provided a straightforward explanation for all three problems described above and many more. The story of this discovery, and what came after it, is what this book is about.
IS LOVE ENOUGH?
A few years ago, our close friend Tamara started dating someone new:
I first noticed Greg at a cocktail party at a friend’s house. He was unbelievably good-looking, and I found the fact that I caught his eye very flattering. A few days later we went out for dinner with some other people, and I couldn’t resist the glimmer of excitement in his eyes when he looked at me. But what I found most enticing were his words Decoding Relationship Behavior
and an implicit promise of togetherness that he conveyed. The promise of not being alone. He said things like “Tamara, you don’t have to be home all by yourself, you can come and work over at my place,” “You can call me any time you like.” There was comfort in these statements: The comfort of belonging to someone, of not being alone in the world. If I’d only listened carefully, I could have easily heard another message that was incongruent with this promise, a message that made it clear that Greg feared getting too close and was uncomfortable with commitment. Several times he’d mentioned that he’d never had a stable relationship—that for some reason he always grew tired of his girlfriends and felt the need to move on.
Though I could identify these issues as potentially problematic, at the time I didn’t know how to correctly gauge their implications. All I had to guide me was the common belief that many of us grow up with: The belief that love conquers all. And so I let love conquer me. Nothing was more important to me than being with him. Yet at the same time the other messages persisted about his inability to commit. I shrugged them off, confident that with me, things would be different. Of course, I was wrong. As we got closer, his messages got more erratic and everything started to fall apart; he began telling me that he was too busy to meet on this night or that. Sometimes he’d claim that his entire work week looked “crazy” and would ask if we could just meet on the weekend. I’d agree, but inside I had a sinking feeling something was wrong, but what?
From then on I was always anxious. I was preoccupied with his whereabouts and became hypersensitive to anything that could possibly imply that he wanted to break up. But while Greg’s behavior presented me with ample evidence of his dissatisfaction, he interspersed pushing me away with just enough affection and apologies to keep me from breaking up with him.
After a while, the ups and downs started to take a toll and I could no longer control my emotions. I didn’t know how to act, and despite my better judgment, I’d avoid making plans with friends in case he called. I completely lost interest in everything else that was important to me. Before long the relationship couldn’t withstand the strain and everything soon came to a screeching halt.
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|February 14, 2022|
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