What a securely and insecurely attached relationship looks like

Secure attachment relationship:

  • Can be learned in childhood from having a secure bond with caregivers or earned by healing in adulthood

  • Empathy, respect and openness are foundations of the relationship

  • Dance of connectedness and space where you are both able to compromise and be adaptable whilst also having boundaries. You understand that sometimes one partner will want more or less closeness than the other and you are both able to sometimes adjust your 'natural rhythm' in that moment to lean in to offer support or step back to offer space - and also clear on when you aren't able to adapt without betraying yourself.

  • You are responsible for yourselves, your own happiness, but also support and uplift each other

  • Regular affection (whether verbal, physical etc - you talk about what feels really good for you). You regularly communicate praise, gratitude etc towards your partner so they feel loved and cherished

  • You don’t assume that because you have positive intentions, you will be able to mind read for each other. You are updating your understanding of your partner’s love languages over time and have open dialogues about your needs and feelings regularly - both inviting your partner to share and opening a conversation when you notice an important need or feeling arising.

  • You are able to express your truth even when it’s not what the other person would like to hear and they do their best to be understanding rather than projecting, judging, blaming, pressuring, controlling etc. During conflict you focus on win-win solutions rather than who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ - you work as a team - ‘what’s best for both of us?’. All disagreements are an opportunity to learn how to love each other better!

  • You are able to lovingly bring attention to any unconscious patterns (such as blaming )in your partner that are affecting the relationship or their wellbeing, rather than enabling them and without going into ego yourself (blaming back, defensiveness) . You do this by noticing that your partner must feel vulnerable and helping your partner to feel safe so you can explore the core wound. If one partner is unable to hold a conscious dialogue in that moment the other partner is able to set boundaries for example taking space to cool off.

  • Works on healing any hurts and disappointments and (if committed to choosing the relationship because there is enough consciousness and co-commitment there despite the challenge), chooses to forgive partner so the relationship can thrive (is still honest with partner if working through this process - without blaming.)

  • 'I trust you and I trust I would be okay without you so I am not dependent on you as the sole source of my happiness' (although the relationship increases our joy we don't feel dependent on it.

  • You nourish other areas of your life which has a positive effect on the relationship (e.g. career, friendships, health, finances, spiritual practice)

  • You put energy in to maintain the aliveness of the relationship by continuing to learn about each other by asking deep questions and having new experiences together and making quality time (such as a weekly date night)

  • Accepts that conflict and rough patches are normal in a relationship - it’s how the challenges are handled, not an absence of them that makes a worthwhile relationship

An insecure bond: (may not have all of these qualities, but many of them)

  • Insecure attachment acquired through relational trauma, often in childhood

  • Poor communication: conflict avoidance, blaming, shaming and judgement, emotional unavailability, withdrawing without explanation

  • Making the other person responsible for your happiness

  • Feeling responsible for the other person’s happiness (rescuing/ saving)

  • Lack of trust (may translate into jealousy/ controlling actions)

  • Accepting or enabling poor behaviour

  • Overgiving

  • Not communicating needs and feelings

  • Blaming and shaming

  • Pressuring and controlling

  • Not acknowledging how your actions impact your partner

  • Unwillingness to be adaptable (within reason without betraying boundaries)

  • Lack of boundaries, betraying your own boundaries or rigid boundaries (walls that block intimacy)

  • Invading boundaries

  • Lack of quality time together

  • Lack of affection

  • Plays the victim rather than focusing on solutions

  • Holds grudges

  • Keeps the peace at the expense of authenticity

  • Afraid to be true self for fear it won’t be accepted

  • Sees conflict as sign relationship is doomed, abandons relationship when honeymoon phase ends

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