If you’ve read my blogs over the past few months, you’ve noticed many focus on Attachment Theory and they all reference the two types of attachment styles: secure and insecure.
For those in the insecure bucket (this is the type most people identify with), relationships are hard because they trigger vulnerabilities from their childhood.
What are some of those vulnerabilities?
- Feeling ignored by one or both parents
- Being told they were stupid
- Being bullied at school
- Being constantly criticized – never feeling they were good enough
- Constantly doted upon – never given space
These are just a few and there are tons more.
And they always show up in relationships.
You can count on that.
But the successful relationships are ones where each partner understands the other, and their vulnerabilities.
They create a “bubble” where both can feel safe.
It’s your job, once you’re in a relationship, to become an expert on your partner and her “buttons” – and to know what pushes them.
Most of us have 3-4 vulnerabilities. If we can identify them for ourselves and help our partner understand them, they will be better prepared to soothe us during times of distress.
Here’s an example. Let’s say I’m dating a woman named Lisa. Lisa and I are out to dinner with another couple, Jim and Cheryl. During dinner, Cheryl recounts a story from her youth when her family, who are very close, would have these amazing Christmas mornings, exchanging presents and just having a total blast being together.
Now, Lisa’s parents divorced when she was very young. They never had close family experiences that she can remember.
And hearing Cheryl’s story clearly affected her – she became very quiet during dinner.
How can I help?
I can take Cheryl’s hand under the table. Or she and I can take a walk. Or in the car ride home, I can acknowledge what Cheryl said and how hard it must be for Lisa.
Get the picture?
We all bring the “child part” of ourselves to a relationship and it’s up to our partners to provide the missing self-esteem pieces when that child shows up.
Some may ask, “Shouldn’t we be able to provide that for ourselves?”
The answer is no.
Most of these vulnerabilities were created through the course of the caretaker/parent-child relationship. That’s why it’s the through the course of another relationship, one similar in impact, that brings these vulnerabilities to the surface.
Our partners are endowed with the ability to extend love and kindness, but they can also create pain and distress.
If the relationship is going to work, your partner will need to use her power constructively and become an expert in identifying and responding to your vulnerabilities and you will need to do the same for hers.
Make THAT your “secret superpower” and you will enjoy way more stability in your relationships moving forward.