4 Elements of Attachment

As adults, we can instantly be thrown back into childhood panic if our bond to our partner is in distress. This bond is so vital to our well being that without it, or when it is shaky, we protest through panic.  

As described in Sue Johnson’s book, Love Sense, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth researched and identified four elements of attachment. They are as follows:

“We seek out, monitor and try to maintain emotional and physical connection with our loved ones.  Throughout life we rely on them to be emotionally accessible, responsive, and engaged with us.”

“We reach out for our loved ones particularly when we are uncertain, threatened, anxious or upset.  Contact with them gives us a sense of having a safe haven, where we will find comfort and emotional support; this sense of safety teaches us how to regulate our own emotions and how to connect with and trust others.”

“We miss our loved ones and become extremely upset when they are physically or emotionally remote; this separation anxiety can become intense and incapacitating.  Isolation is inherently traumatizing for human beings.”

“We depend on our loved ones to support us emotionally and be a secure base as we venture into the world and learn to explore.  The more we sense that we are effectively connected, the more autonomous and connected we can be.”

Can you see the connection between how infants act and how adult love relationships mimic them? When our attachment bond experiences a rupture or worse, prolonged periods of disengagement and emotional isolation, we become increasingly distraught. These moments might look like rage, anger, fear, etc. These emotions are really an alarm signal going off to warn you that you need to take action. Most couples don’t know which action to take or they go down the same old path that leads to more isolation and hurt. Understanding the cycles you get drawn into is paramount to jumping out of the negative cycle and into a healthy one.  By recognizing when your pattern is popping up again, you can begin to get back on the path to a healthy bond.

If you and your significant other are struggling, we can help you work through your issues and give you the tools you need to create a happy and stable relationship. Call us today.