broken heart attachmentNo matter who we are, sometimes love hurts, it definitely hurts when the person we love hurts us in any number of ways, but what about the day to day feelings of disappointment, let downs and generally not feeling as loved as the words that stumble out of his/her mouth.

Those three words ‘I love You’ are often used without much thought to what they really mean, but here I want to talk about the hurt within an established relationship.

Many of my online counselling clients, whom I come to know very well often talk about how their partners continuously hurt them, they tell me how they feel,how they are treated and although their pain is real, it is often down to their pasts and people who have not met their needs early in their lives, often its about ‘attachment’ the early emotional bond between very young developing children and their caregivers (usually parents).

These connections and the type of parenting we received is crucial to our friendships and relationships, even years later as adults. Only 20% of the UK population had what is accepted as the right model or style of parenting, there are four models or styles, that’s a lot of people that aren’t equipped to connect and love without significant struggles.

Here are the styles and types of parenting and an explanation of the main characteristics.

  • Secure attachment: 

These children have through their parenting experience learned to feel that their needs will be consistently and emotionally met.

The internal working model or thought processes of these children is likely to be one that they confidently expect that their needs will be understood and met, that they will be attuned to their caregiver or parent and emotionally provided for, and that they can freely explore their environment (their world) in safety and with confidence, this belief will be emulated into adulthood and they have the best grounding for successful adult relationships.

  •  Avoidant attachment:

These children have through their parenting experience learned to feel that their needs will probably not be met.

The internal working model or thought processes of these children is likely to be one that they feel that their parent does not respond to their emotions, especially when they are upset, needy or angry. Typically these children will shut down their needs and try to become independent. The infants then protect themselves from this difficult situation by dissociating/withdrawing from contact with their normal need for connection, they will repress their emotions more generally. This is a “deactivating” closing strategy with respect to attachment.

This behaviour pattern is often continued in adult relationships and it can be seen in people who find it difficult to make and maintain healthy committed relationships.

  • Ambivalent attachment:

These children have through their parenting experience learned to feel that they cannot rely or depend on their needs being met.

The likely internal working model or thought processes of these children here is even if their parent or caregiver is available physically, he/she will likely not be able to soothe or comfort the child. These infants respond by over-activating their attachment system, displaying very needy behaviours.

  • Disorganized attachment:

These children have through their parenting experience learned to feel severely confused with no effective strategy of how to have their needs met.

The likely inner working model or thought processes of these children is not functional, and is one where the “supposed” source of soothing is also the source of danger a situation of “fright without solution” leaving their mind state and behavior very disorganized.

If you feel that some of your current relationship difficulties could be as a result of your upbringing or your early connections, or maybe that you feel your partners past is now causing problems, it could help to understand and explore it with a caring professional.

Attachment is a fascinating subject which when understood can help us make better relationship choices and help us to understand our partners better, thus making it easier to connect in a more meaningful and fulfilling way.

See this article on my website for more about attachment.

Written by Paul Parkin – online counsellor and life coach

April 18th 2013