love, Love + Dating, Misc, personal
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The 3 Dwarves of Attachment: Grumpy, Stressy, & Happy (AKA Avoidant, Anxious, & Secure)

Ever wondered why some dates lead you to sex, romance, or even love, while others leave you cold? Have you dumped someone as soon as it got too intimate or demanding? Or endlessly analysed online messages, and started ‘deep & meaningful’ conversations, seeking reassurance? Alternatively, perhaps you’ve been happily committed to your ‘best friend’ for 20+ years, and have no idea what I’m talking about?

Attachment Theory suggests that our experience of being parented deeply informs our neural pathways, which are committed to repeating familiar patterns- a genetic programming designed to keep us ‘safe’, close to the tribe, and able to navigate back to the cave easily.

As I’ve said HERE before, after reading ‘Attached’, I know I’ve been happily Avoidant, and now at the ripe old age of 50, am trying to change that. This dog WILL learn new tricks! As I reflect on friends, past lovers and partners, of any gender, I use my body wisdom to remind me what dynamic we were in together:

  • Holding me at arm’s length (as I did them), like I’m the enemy? Hello ‘Grumpy’
  • Leaning too close, always at a tilt towards me? Hi ‘Stressy’
  • Contentedly standing calm, letting me dance toward and away, with clear boundaries and needs I can understand and honour? Pleased to meet you ‘Happy’

I’ve been SO Grumpy; I can’t believe lovers put up with me. Here is my inner Avoidant: note those dismissive side eyes, defensive fists, and sturdy feet for walking firmly away.

Attachment Theory in online dating relationships and love, for Over 50s #love #dating advice

Attachment Theory in online dating relationships and love, for Over 50s #love #dating advice @boneAndsilver

I’ve occasionally been Stressy myself; I hated it, and felt literally sick (again that body wisdom). I’ve been blessed to have dear friends, and a few generous partners, who gave me the Happy experience of secure, safe, predictable connections. Rare but precious.

During my relationship course last week, we learnt that attachment styles can change according to context (i.e. someone Avoidant can flip you into being more Anxious, which I’ve experienced, much to my Grumpy badge-wearing surprise). Statistically, the dating pool is full of Avoidants, circling round the love-seeking Anxious like sharks, while Secure folk are cosy at home or out exploring the world, side by side with their Beloveds. *sigh

But cheer up, less-Happy folk: we can create ‘earned security’. We can practice new behavioural responses, being Mindful, and making healthier choices about who we get involved with, plus how we treat them.

Communication is the key- we Avoidants tend to ignore or downplay conflict or uncomfortable feelings. My new love ‘H’ and I have some awareness of our challenges, and much yet to be discovered… but our willingness to try is the key we’ve hopefully found at last.

In gratitude for learning new ways, G xO

 

20 Comments

  1. Jodie says

    I certainly started out in my younger years as an anxious one (circled by grumpy avoidants) and have certainly determinedly become much less of that but probably now a bit grumpy and happy so a mix of all three 🙃
    Always interesting and helpful for me. Thanks 💓🕊️🌻

    Liked by 2 people

    • My teacher says we can change to suit our circumstances, but have basic patterns; we can definitely change to being more secure. I have a mix of all 3 too, but I know I want to move towards more Happy 😊
      Thanks for reading & commenting Jodie 😃❤

      Like

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  3. ewilliams0214 says

    How insightful and introspective without the never to be missed navel-gazing component. I think pretty much anyone here (readers & posters) can conclude that we’ve experiencesd all three of those Dwarves along the line and still do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! That’s a lovely complimentary comment 😃
      I’m so glad this post resonates for you (it is one of my favorites for sure) 👍🏼

      Like

  4. I read Attached years ago and it is so cool to read your thoughts on it and how you are living it. I look forward to reading more of your ideas! My work is Bodywisdom Therapy and I too help guide people to listen to the wisdom of their bodies!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes! The concepts in Attached are so profound, I wish I’d read it decades ago! Might have saved me alot of grief my whole life. And, yes, I have found that our bodies can be our greatest teachers… our primary relationship! I like that your essays are fairly short and personal. I have a challenge writing anything that isn’t on the long side!

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be honest, I do also enjoy the longer posts, but have learnt that readers do seem to dig the shorter ones. And it’s a good challenge to try to express only the essential 😊. Blessings, G

      Like

  6. zlotybaby says

    I used to be clingy at heart and avoidant in behavior. Then later in life, I just got all clingy and spent years trying to get better. Three years ago or so, I took an attachment test and it told me I was a secure attachment type. Funny enough that was about the same time when I started to date my husband 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that’s great. The teacher told us different situations can cause different reactions, so if you met a secure, stable man to form a longterm attachment with (i.e. your husband), it makes sense you would pass as more Secure in a test. I find it all fascinating; I wish we’d studied it at school

      Liked by 1 person

      • zlotybaby says

        I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. I don’t think you can meet someone to form a Secure attachment with unless you’ve already done some work and you are not clingy or avoidant (depending where you were before). Before my husband there were other guys looking for a long-term relationship with me but I had intimacy issues and couldn’t stand the “slow and steady” getting into a relationship mode and was going for quick fixes with unavailable guys instead (which would make me clingy due to their own issues). Gosh, humans ARE complicated 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t read Attached but I have read a lot of John Bowlby and attachment theory so I am no stranger to this. I immediately think I am a Happy but maybe that’s just wishful thinking?! In reality I am probably a mix of all three, plus we can only react to and not change everyone else in the world – hence we might come up against way more avoidant types (stress and grumpy) in the online dating world than people who are comfortable with themselves and their lives. Personally I would love to meet one or two! I invite them into my life!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear ya. My attachment theory teacher said that the dating pool is full of Avoidants, while all the happy, Secure ones are off being Secure and Attached to their Beloveds; I must admit I have been a highly successful Avoidant for SO LONG, and it’s a bit of a battle to try and change it… especially as it feels so good to be a bit unattached haha…

      Liked by 1 person

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