Couples often become locked in the negative cycle, especially those who are worried or avoidant in their relationships. The negative cycle prevents intimacy and emotional connection by impeding discussion of whatever issue or topic the couple is seeking to resolve. A healthy couple must be able to communicate effectively in order to use teamwork to break their negative cycle and prevent the relationship from falling apart.
There are attachment veeds in every romantic engagement. In order to keep safe, early humans were physiologically programmed to remain in contact with other people. We are still bred to connect as modern humans. When the relationship feels threatened by a real or perceived threat, those who are biologically driven to be in romantic relationships are emotionally uncomfortable.
Insecure-anxious and insecure-avoidant partners have trust issues and enter relationships with a higher sensitivity to threat because they are insecure (as a result of past painful relationship experiences). This is a survival tactic that keeps them in a vigilant, guarded state. However, it also hinders intimacy in those relationships, which are generally secure.
Think of our primary romantic partner, who provides us with the most of our emotional support, as a treasure box containing our emotional safety. Our satisfied “attachment needs” are contained inside the treasure box. These “treasures” are necessary for couples to maintain their emotional safety. We need to recover the lost treasure in order to feel whole once more.
All humans have a need for attachment. Once more, consider biology. Early caregivers must first meet them for us (in a manner appropriate for children), and then our romantic partner. Certain attachment needs will be more important to anxious partners than others, and vice versa for avoidant partners.
Here is a list of the most basic human attachment needs :
- Feeling desired
- To experience gratitude
- Knowing that your partner cares about your wants
- To be confident in your partner
- To be aware of your partner’s trust
- To experience gratitude
- Must have confidence that you can treat your lover appropriately
- To be assured that your spouse will be there for you when you need them
The vulnerability follows. When an attachment need is not met, we feel incredibly exposed. Fear, sadness, and main anger are the sensitive feelings most strongly linked to unfulfilled attachment needs. They are intended to hurt. Pain serves a purpose. Our bodies use it as a means of saying “something isn’t right.” You would experience foot discomfort right away if you walked on a nail. The pain would be meant to signal, “Take the nail out!” Even emotional suffering serves a purpose. In an attachmen situation, the goal of the pain is to bring us back to our loved one’s side in a safe place.
The next step is behaviour. Humans do not like to dwell on unpleasant emotions, especially those related to attachment. In order to alleviate the anguish, we shall take action. We’ll move swiftly to restore our sense of security. This behaviour exists. Your attachment style will influence how you interact with your partner right now. Anxious people frequently complain, demand, criticise, accuse, and threaten to leave in an effort to make their partner hear them and comprehend their suffering. Avoidant people frequently defend themselves, counterattack, appease, shut down, and look for comfort elsewhere in desperate attempts to avoid the pain, make it go away, and/or tell their partner that they are not the bad guy.
These “negative cycle” behaviours will take on a life of their own and begin reinforcing each partner’s attachment (or, more specifically, their unmet attachment needs). This will keep the partner trapped in a negative cycle. Each partner will experience increasing levels of fear, abandonment, failure, anger, frustration, defeat, helplessness, and isolation as the cycle continues. As the couple continues to go through the cycle, things will probably get worse for a while. They’ll eventually stop and probably leave to take care of their pain on their own. Even though avoidants may not appear to be hurting anyone, they are. When this occurs repeatedly, there will be tension between them for hours, weeks, days, months, and occasionally years. Relationships are destroyed when the negative cycle, a communication disorder, is perpetuated over time and is not corrected.
How to get out of this stuck place?
- Develop communication skills OUTSIDE of a vicious circle. This CAN be learnt; learning a constructive cycle is possible.
- Consult a couples therapist who has been educated to deal with attachment issues and the vicious cycle.
- Take on “the cycle as the adversary” together with your spouse.
- Say “this is our negative cycle, let’s not allow it destroy us right now” when it occurs.
- Together, come up with a strategy to break the cycle when it occurs.
- Learn to express more than just your anger; while expressing anger is normal, healthy, and acceptable, it prevents your partner from seeing the whole range of your emotions. There is no room for empathy in this.
- The objective is to break the vicious cycle, not stop it. It should happen less frequently, be less intense, and take less time for you to fix it.
What do you think about this post. Let me know in the comments.