Is Your Attachment Style Leaving You Lonely?
If so, you can turn that around for good.
Are you dreading another weekend without plans? Do you wonder why your relationships keep ending and why eligible bachelors keep passing you by? Are you sick and tired of feeling lonely and just want to fill the hole in your heart with someone meaningful? I get that. Loneliness is real and painful.
What you may not realize is that the reason many people feel so lonely has much to do with their attachment styles in relationships.
According to well-known couples therapist John Gottman:
“Attachment theory describes how our early relationships with a primary caregiver, most commonly a parent, creates our expectation for how love should be.”
For example, I’ve been working with a young, successful businesswoman, helping her feel more confident pitching her ideas at work. Our recent conversation about work took a surprising twist, awakening her awareness of how profoundly lonely she is.
As we began to explore and unpack her story in order to understand what her lack of confidence at work and loneliness in her love life have in common, we discovered together that she has an insecure attachment style.
Nothing uncommon there — somewhere around 50 percent of adults fall into the insecure attachment group.
But what does having an insecure vs. secure attachment style have to do with feeling lonely or lacking in confidence?
Here are 5 ways understanding and harnessing attachment styles in relationships can help you stop feeling lonely and find true love.
1. Be Clear on Your “Primary” Attachment
There are many types of attachment and we are wired for relationship and for a primary attachment relationship in adulthood. Sure, we’ve got friends and family. But, you have also have one person who would be your “primary”.
Your primary takes priority over everything and everyone.
That’s a pretty tough concept for many couples, right? This is one of the biggest missteps couples make. So often, the lifetime vows have barely fallen off the tongue when our one-and-only, till death do us part, becomes a second or third priority. They take the back seat to career, hobbies, family, or friends.
2. Identify Your Substitute Attachments
It didn’t take this woman and I too long to realize that she’d been using work as her primary attachment relationship. She’d been looking for the kind of validation at work that could only be met in a secure love relationship. She thought working herself to the bone for recognition and acceptance would fill the hole in her heart.
She had a great “ah ha!” experience when she realized that no amount of success at work would fulfill her human need for love and acceptance.
It just wasn’t a substitute for what she really needed and wanted. The cycle that she had been in was wearing her down. She had convinced herself that she had little time for personal relationships because she was always so busy with her job.
This kept her in a perpetual state of busyness and loneliness.
She said that she felt like she was in a box, unable to be seen and heard. In her insecure state of being, she needed constant reassurance from her boss and co-workers.
3. Understand Your Attachment Style and Its Impact On Your Relationships
By identifying her attachment style, my client was able to understand why she had such a lonely nature and she pushed people away in her personal relationships. She began to see her pattern of being needy and insecure in her single life and aloof and distancing when people showed her attention.
Many young professionals seem to be cut from the same mold.
So many of them brag about being overworked and having little time for relationships. And many of them also share a similar complaint about isolation and not being able to find a serious romantic relationship.
4. Change Your Attachment Style from Insecure to Secure
Simply knowing you have an insecure attachment style isn’t enough to help you become secure enough to give up your work addiction and to make time and space for a love relationship. Fixing the problem’s going to take more than just understanding it.
It takes emotion to heal their emotion, but what does that even mean?
Emotional insecurity needs to be felt, expressed, and compassionately responded to in order to heal. We need time and connected relationships in order to let go of whatever our addictive behaviors are. That’s why the AA community has been an integral piece for the healing of millions of alcoholics.
For most people, learning to live a securely attached life is a major paradigm shift. It’s like taking the red pill in the movie The Matrix. Some would describe it as an alternate reality or becoming aware of the real world of human existence.
5. Deepen Your Understanding of Attachment Styles and Apply It to Your Life
Understanding attachment theory and applying it to your own life can be a mind-blowing experience. It was for me when I discovered it after the failure of my 25-year marriage.
Contrary to popular Eastern concepts, we are wired for relationships and we suffer deeply if we don’t form a secure attachment. While meditation can help regulate emotion, it is no substitute for connected loving validating relationship.
While it may be possible to disconnect from the need for human attachment, the need to form loving relationships is what makes us connectable human beings.
We are relational beings who deeply desire to be loved and known.
There are no shortcuts or substitutes. Success is great. But no amount of money, achievement or fame will satisfy our need for human attachment.
It helps to understand the “why” before you decide what to do about your relationships by making sense of your drive and desire for a deeper connection.
Most of us are surrounded by friends and even family who are as driven and performance-motivated as we are. So even if we become convinced that we need to learn how to attach, it can be tough when we feel alone in that pursuit.
Still stuck on what to do when you feel lonely? Try this.
Reach out to your close friends. Tell them what you’re feeling and learning about yourself. They may be interested in doing some inside-out learning with you.
You may want to find a therapist who can help you dig deeper and heal old attachment injuries.
Learning how to be with your emotions through meditation and prayer can be a good thing as long as you stay connected with your healthy human need to love and be loved.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Why Your Attachment Style May Be Keeping You Lonely.
Guest Author, P. (2018). Is Your Attachment Style Leaving You Lonely?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 4, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/is-your-attachment-style-leaving-you-lonely/