Let’s Talk About Relationships: How Healthy Connections Can Boost Your Mental Health

Let's Talk About Relationships

Have you ever wondered why you always behave in specific ways in relationships?

Why do you fall deeply in love but lose interest as soon as you realize that the feelings are mutual? Why do you not find a place for yourself if the partner responds to the message for less than five minutes? Why do you avoid any conflicts – even if there is something in the relationship that you do not like? 

Maybe because you’re made that way, yes, this is probably true. But it raises another question – how exactly are you arranged?

It is best answered by attachment theory, which was born in the late 1960s and divided people into three categories, or rather, into three types of attachment: secure, anxious, and avoidant. 

The theory’s creators also suggested that belonging to one type or another determines our relationship behavior. 

But what are these types, and how do they arise?

Now let’s explain. 

Every person needs contact with the Other. This is not philosophy but exclusively the logic of evolution: unlike most other creatures, a person is born helpless and stays in this state for a very long time – without contact, he will not survive. 

This need manifests itself from the first days of life: the child needs food, attention, the warmth of the mother’s hands, and the feeling of security he experiences in her presence. 

Satisfying this need is a very delicate process. A lot of things can go wrong with it. 

Let’s say the parents work late, and the child spends every evening with the nanny. Their absence causes frustration in him – as a rule, so strong that the psyche cannot process it, and therefore attracts defense mechanisms to help. The easiest one is to convince yourself that parents are not needed at all, and therefore there is nothing wrong with them coming home from work late. Thus, the child, as it were, pretends that he does not need his parents (he does not love them).

To illustrate this, the creators of attachment theory experimented called the Strange Situation. It was attended by about a hundred children aged from one to one and a half. The mother and child were placed in a particular room. After a while, a stranger appeared in her, and her mother came out. Then she returned. 

Learning Your Place in People’s Lives: An Intimate Journey of Self-Discovery

Scientists have observed how children behave in the presence of a stranger, as well as their reaction to the return of the mother. They drew attention to the fact that children’s behavior is divided into three categories.

Safe-type children behaved as naturally as possible – they did not show anxiety in the presence of a stranger. They were upset by their mother’s departure and glad to see her return.

The ambivalent children had conflicting reactions to their mother’s return – they ran to her as if they wanted to hug her. Still, then they pushed her away and started crying. 

Anxious-avoidant children did not show any emotion when their mother left the room—they ignored it—and did not react to her return. Scientists suggested that in this way, they hide the stress caused by the mother’s departure. Later this was confirmed: the heartbeat of such children was rapid, and the level of the stress hormone cortisol was increased. 

Subsequently, the results of these studies were extended to adults – scientists have proven that they behave in relationships in the same way. The only difference is that their reactions are more equipped and nuanced. 

Harnessing Emotional Intelligence for Healthy Relationships

Let's Talk About Relationships

Reliable Type

Such people have no particular difficulties building relationships – they are ready to give and receive love. Their reactions to a partner are proportional to his actions (lucky ones).

Anxious Type

They strive for relationships but always fear their partner does not love them as much as they love him. They closely monitor their partner’s reactions, tend to see those meanings that are not there, and take them personally. In addition:

  • They require constant confirmation that everything is in order with the relationship (for example, that the disgruntled face of the partner is explained not by the fact that everything is over but by the fact that it is happening in the early morning, and he did not get enough sleep).
  • Often they call or write a message to a partner and are very worried if he does not answer right there. When he calls back, they accuse him of ignoring them.
  • Mention other men or women to provoke jealousy.

Avoidant Type

Partners of such people often complain about their aloofness. Avoidant people keep a close eye on their boundaries and experience extreme discomfort when they are crossed (they can consider anything as a crossing – a joint trip, meeting their parents, excessively intimate conversation). In general, they behave approximately as follows:

  • They always say that they are not ready to take responsibility. Still, at the same time, they can remain in a relationship for years.
  • Seek out flaws in a partner Avoid
  • Explicit declarations of their feelings at all costs – for example, phrases I love you.
  • Pull away when the relationship is going well (for example, disappearing after an enjoyable date)
  • Avoid physical contact – hugs, kisses, or sex. Sometimes, they can’t just walk side by side but keep a few steps ahead. 

Is it possible to change your type – or is its owner doomed to forever be stuck in his behavior pattern? In general, it is possible – and if not wholly reshaping the internal structure- to eliminate some of the habits that cause the greatest inconvenience. 

Passionate mental health advocate providing resources to those in need. Enjoys learning through reading and documentaries. Aiming to promote mental well-being.
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