Have we ever really known in our society what love is? Some would say it is infatuation, lust, or chemistry, but then what happens when the infatuation fades? Is love over? Others would say love it is a long-term friendship and bond, but don’t we need some kind of attraction to want a sexual relationship? The problem with all of these ideas is that they do not help us understand love, they do not give us a road map for maneuvering through love and making our love last. Dr. Sue Johnson believes that she has discovered that road map, she has developed a “Science of Love” that can help us understand love and make it last. She has worked as a couple’s therapist for 25 years and watched hundreds of couples on video tapes over and over in order to develop this science.
What is the secret to love and making it last? A big part of that secret is realizing that as human beings we have attachment needs from the cradle to grave. In general some people in our society are aware that children have attachment needs with a parent, however it is those same attachment needs that we have as adults that really holds the key to love. Understanding that we have those needs and how to really deal with them is the key to love and making love last.
What are Adult Attachment needs? Some attachment needs are: knowing that we are important, special and number one to our partner, feeling wanted and needed, feeling loved and accepted even when we make mistakes, feeling valued and appreciated, knowing our partner cares about our feelings and needs, knowing we are safe with our partner and that they are keeping us in their hearts and in their minds, we are not alone.
Now that might sound like a tall order, and you don’t need to be thinking about these and doing them every minute of the day. Couples need to realize that every time they have a conflict (underneath the anger) one or more of these attachment needs is probably not being met (or it seems like it’s not being met). This is where couples get really stuck, they often yell at their partner and blame them for their hurt (and unmet need) and the other partner will often defend or withdraw and nobody really knows what’s really going on and how to stop the negative cycle.
Couples need to realize that we ALL have these attachment needs, and we all feel angry but underneath really scared, alone and sad when we feel like our needs aren’t being met and maybe our partner isn’t going to be there for us. But most importantly that there is a different way, we can learn how to tune in to what we are feeling, understand what attachment need feels like it is not being met, and reach out to our partners in a softer way to pull them in for comfort and reassurance.
Dr. Sue Johnson really hit the nail on the head when she said “Love doesn’t have to be a mystery anymore” we can now understand that when we fall in love with someone we are creating a primary attachment with that person with the hopes that we will be loved and cared for and that person will be there for us forever and always. That these types of hopes of dreams associated with love carry with them all our adult attachment needs. The threat of losing our love and not getting our needs met by our loved one triggers most conflict in relationships. Learning how our navigate feelings and needs to be able to reach out for reassurance and comfort from our partner is the key to maintaining love.
If you feel like you would like to learn how to better understand your adult attachment needs and learn how to communicate feelings and needs in a healthier way then give us a call at A Path of Heart Counselling Services for a 1hr free consultation.
Robin Menard MSW RCC RSW
A Path of Heart Counselling Services
Marriage and Couple Specialist