love, Love + Dating, personal
Comments 41

Is it a pothole or cliff? Measuring the drama of your argument

relationships, online dating, raising a teenager, over 50, positive ageing

Main Attachment styles: Anxious, Avoidant, Secure

boneAndsilver blog, hand drawn, positive ageing, over 50, online dating, love, relationships

hand drawn comic #comic #bespoke @boneAndsilver @WPDiscover

Most regular readers know I had a Bumpy time with ‘H’ on the last interstate visit, and you were all so supportive and encouraging, many thanks. Long distance relationships can be a challenge indeed. It took a lot of patience not to have an immediate, dramatic reaction myself, and now that we’re all snuggly and cute again [phew!], I’ve been reflecting on how it felt as it happened.

As I previously wrote HERE on ‘Bread & butter vs death’, there is a biological reaction to that disagreement with your beloved. Once triggered, your attachment system will flood you with the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to process and dilute these chemicals to return to normal, (a little longer for men), so going for a walk or taking ‘time out’ is actually a fantastic idea.

But what’s actually caused the triggering?

In a nutshell, a serious argument is received as a threat to our safety. I’m not talking about the simple ‘bread & butter’ fights like who let the cat out or forgot to pay the lawnmower guy. I mean the ones with high stakes: monogamy/sex/children/money/the relationship’s future.

We basically have 3 Attachment system reactions, and this is what their influence looks like:

#1 ANXIOUS

You: ‘I need to talk to you about something a bit tricky, is now a good time? Can we please sit down with a cup of tea?’

Me: ‘Shit, what have I done wrong? I always spoil things. [Fuck, I’m going to get dumped aren’t I? ]

#2 AVOIDANT

You: ‘I need to talk to you about something a bit tricky, is now a good time? Can we please sit down with a cup of tea?’

Me: ‘Not another drama? It’s too much; I’m out of here! [I’m withdrawing fast and looking for someone new ASAP]

#3 SECURE

You: ‘I need to talk to you about something a bit tricky, is now a good time? Can we please sit down with a cup of tea?’

Me: ‘Sure. I hope everything’s OK; I’m certain we can sort out whatever’s bothering you. [This is interesting & a little bit unsettling. I wonder what you’re gonna say? I’ll try to listen and not react too fast.]

I stood in my bedroom doorway while ‘H’ let fly with a number of dramatic and hurtful sentences, fuelled by tension that had been building for a few days. I had my 2 favourite reactions instantaneously: I felt sick and wanted to weep inconsolably, or storm away and get back online to find someone less demanding: reactions #1 & 2 were up and rampant!

But thanks to my Attachment studies, I realized what was happening AS it happened, so kept breathing deeply, trying to ‘notice’ the thoughts rather than ‘become’ them. It was bizarre, and not at all how I usually behave (I admit I have been a very content Avoidant for much of my dating life, whether men or women).

My calmer, kinder, more Secure response then became available, for both of us.

I suddenly saw how distressed ‘H’ was, and saying the opposite to what was actually going on: ‘I’m shoving you away but actually need to be held/I’m telling you I don’t want you but actually need to be reassured I’m worthy.’

How hilarious and fragile we humans are. And how lucky I’d done some study on conflict and attachment, or perhaps I wouldn’t be here right now, hanging out with ‘H’, feeling the Love, and very grateful.

boneAndsilver blog, hand drawn comic, over 50s dating, online romance, long distance love

romance over 50s, #positive ageing, #hand drawn comic @boneAndsilver @WPDiscover

 

41 Comments

  1. Rachel McAlpine says

    Whew, I am impressed that you summoned up your learning at a time of stress. Exactly when we need it is exactly when we forget it, as a rule — well done! This will help other people too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s tough being the one who stands still in the face of hurtful stuff, especially when it’s from someone who has the ability to hurt us so badly … I hereby award you fifty-eleventy-thousand gold stars!!! 😀

    I hope H was suitably impressed with what you did too

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “I’m shoving you away but actually need to be held/I’m telling you I don’t want you but actually need to be reassured I’m worthy”
    Oui, if only we could all recognize this in ourselves and others in the moment it’s happening. How much kinder a world, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks S- I can’t say it’s comfortable, nor easy, but definitely useful, and LONG overdue ❤ Thank you for reading & commenting as ever 🙏🏼

      Like

  4. Trace-Blogs says

    My partner and I were (and still pretty much are) long distance for four years. We kind of have a FIFO relationship. It is REALLY hard. We used to spend the first two days of every visit fighting because – I don’t really know – it is just such a weird situation. I think I’m going to adopt your attitude of silence. At least that is what I tell myself all the time! And I read a book called Attached. Interesting stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I don’t think I could handle 4 years… good on you both. One of my readers commented on my Bumpy post about our fight, that because we are long distance, it makes all the time more precious, and yet also pressured- a great way to ensure an argument, because it’s not all going ‘perfectly’!

      That Attached book has changed my life, no question; I’ve done further studies, and am trying to write about it to really integrate the teachings… for me, it’s profound. Thank you for commenting Trace, G

      Liked by 1 person

      • Trace-Blogs says

        I’m pretty sure we have now crossed over into some kind of Stockholm Syndrome. It is actually madness but we are used to it. And then we decided to have a baby because for some reason I love to make everything a challenge. I totally agree with that comment. There is so much pressure for your time together to be perfect. And we had the same thing – one of you always has to work but you feel like you should be spending that precious time. It’s almost as if you turn every visit into a holiday and that in itself can feel unrealistic. At the same time, that is what’s lovely about it. I’m going to read that book again! x

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks love; I do hope it helps someone out there (you were one of at least 5 bloggers last week who had relationship hassle, incl myself). And ‘H’ did the drawings for me 😍😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ooooh relationship hassles. Right now I’m in the “I’m glad that the 2nd guy ended, but am I really so glad about the 1st?” and fretting over maybe making a bad choice there and keep remembering how happy I was with him (probably because we stayed friends so that nice side is still there) but then I remember the part that made me end it and I’m not sure if I was just avoiding having that hard conversation – and instead made an excuse of “if that’s just how he is I don’t want to try to change him” but maybe all it needed was that chat over a cuppa? *sigh* adult emotions are hard.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post. I think I need to read the Attached book and put into practice what you described. It’s so easy to fall into patterns we have refined all our lives. It’s so easy to walk away and reject rather than to stay and listen. It’s easy to lash out and be defensive rather than take responsibility and hear what is going on in the subtext. I admire you for achieving this

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks love; I’d so recommend the book. And at 51, I’m finally learning some new tricks, or mindfulness, so it’s never too late to change… You can do it! Good luck, G

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Two thoughts. One) Learning to step back and listen to the message and not the words from a romantic partner is very difficult–and absolutely essential. Two) Even as I write this, my daughters are reenacting the “nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” bits from Monty Python. My work here is done, or something. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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