Why Your Anger with Emotionally Avoidant People is a Waste of Time
The Rise of Attachment Science
Most of the clients I work with now understand what their attachment style is from taking an online quiz. This is good news. Attachment and relationship science has been around for decades and has produced some impressive longitudinal research about the importance of our relationships for our overall health and wellbeing. You can read the entire Handbook of Attachment if you like scientific research.
Unfortunately, most people do not understand that attachment style is not a diagnosis but rather a biological response to how we cope in a fearful situation. And as a biological response and development need, our style can affect many areas of our lives.
Since the publication of Attached: The New Science of Dating, millions of people have discovered a name for their type of insecurity. Feeling that they now have a “diagnosis” they often seek to find relief from their suffering. Unfortunately, what has transpired is not a focus on our own personal development but rather an obsession with changing the other person’s behavior. Most of my clients believe that their love lives would be perfect if only their avoidant partner would process or open up about their feelings. This, unfortunately, is not the path toward healing.
What the popularization of attachment science has done is fed into the dichotomy we have between anxious and avoidant people rather than provide a path toward healing our insecurity. Most do not realize that these two classifications are really two ends of the same spectrum I call toxic insecurity. They are simply behavioral patterns we have learned in the context of previous relationships that have shaped our physiology and mental representations of relationships in general. Our attachment style is the result of behaviors we demonstrate when we are stressed and feeling scared. Given how much trauma we have suffered this insecurity is very common and is estimated to occur in 40% or more of the general population. For those of us heading onto a spiritual path, we are being asked to heal it — now.