- Gender and Relationships
Attachment Clarity for Love and Intimacy
To heal a broken spirit is to cherish and know love.
How much meaning does life have without love? What drives human attachments? Wisdom speaks through the ages about mankind’s need for love to respect his fellow man. Love on many levels is at the heart of social and cultural systems for survival.
Often what is not understood is the mature clarity a person needs to make clear and intelligent decisions about the human need for love and to understand effects of living a life without love accompanied by repressed emotions. The field of attachment theory helps to explain dynamics of human interactions surrounding emotional values and behaviors.
An individual’s attachment system involves emotions and behaviors that seek safety, shelter and compassion through closeness to people who are trusted for love and caring in varying ways.
Researchers theorize that adults exhibit patterns of attachment in adult relationships in much the same way children exhibit patterns of attachment with parents. The absence of loving parental figures in a child's life increases a child's chances of developing deep seated anxiety disorders.
The field of attachment theory is based upon the initial work of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby surrounding maternal deprivation. Essentially human mental, physical, spiritual and emotional survival is based upon relationships with others and not in isolation unto one’s self.
In the book titled Attached by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S. F. Heller, M.A., they decode adult relationship behavior into three relationship attachment styles which can change over an individual’s lifetime. Basically the styles are:
- Secure: People who are warm and comfortable in relationships,
- Anxious: People who crave and stress over affection in relationships and
- Avoidant: People who minimize closeness in relationships for personal independence.
Individual attachment styles are believed by the authors to be influenced in each person's life by a number of factors. Two factors are the way your parents cared for you growing up and your experiences encountered in life.
Ask anyone their definition of love and invariably you will hear a plethora of responses. Love is proclaimed to be self-less. You are admonished to love yourself before you can love anyone else. Love is declared to be unconditional.
Notions of love can become rationalized and displaced within individuals who think of love in self-indulgent ways leading them to project their values and beliefs about love onto others not of the same mindset. Consequently, factors surrounding notions of love affect intimacy and affection between people on a variety of levels involving physical contact, mutual activities, judgment and reason and biochemical interactions.
To genuinely love anyone on any level, regardless of relationship, involves revealing yourself with total revelation, full disclosure and transparency in the hope of being understood. Two people can only love within the capacity of their comfort zones to love. The inability to fully disclose one’s self in communication to another, on the basis of the relationship entered into, is a measure of how much you love or hesitate to love without fear. Perfect love, according to biblical scripture, is said to cast out all fear of being able to love. Perfect love is another way of saying you are not afraid to fully disclose who you truly know yourself to be to someone you proclaim to love.
Communication is essential to becoming vulnerable to another to expose your deepest self to another in trust. When trust is absent in any relationship, it becomes impossible to honestly communicate with full disclosure on any level within the consummate love of intimacy, passion and commitment as postulated in the triangular theory of love by Robert Sternberg.
When you are not able to mutually commit to a relationship with another in understanding of each other’s love expectations, it can be out of fear of commitment because of past seductive deception, fear of exposing who you truly are, emotional scarring from previous love experiences, what you were taught and learned about love or failure to fully trust the person who claims to love you.
To love unconditionally is to love without conditions; but in reality, commitments are often stipulated in relationship agreements and love contracts. Agreements and contracts become necessary in relationships when people are uncertain of their own intentions, their partner’s intentions or the long-term fidelity of their relationship.
Stories abound of individuals who have been seduced, swindled, hoodwinked, controlled, abused, manipulated and psychologically intimidated by deception through espoused feelings, false promises, empty desires and hopeless dreams. Physical interaction and emotional limerence, that are purely temporal in nature, are generally at the heart of socially engineered relationships for self-indulgence. Immature, innocent and anxious individuals starved for love and affection are most at risk for becoming exploited by relationship con artists and sexual predators.
One conception of love does not fit all. There are boundaries to love for cosmic harmony that exist within the world and universe. There are categories and descriptions of love between parents, children, lovers, friends, neighbors, associates and acquaintances. Such boundaries are necessary in societies and cultures for peaceful human coexistence. When mankind is not able to coexist in loving respect for each other, the result is distrust, secret communications, legislated laws, enforcements, conflicts-of-interest, illegal affairs, acts of infidelity and corruption. At the heart of love is the ethic of reciprocity: to treat someone as you would like to be treated or not treat someone as you would not like to be treated.
When love is repressed, there is generally a need to verbally express emotions, act out emotions or both. When desire for love is not met in a healthy way, individuals are capable of displacing unmet emotional needs in negative ways. A person may overcompensate for answers of why they exist in life and for what purpose.
A sense of not being loved can result in cynical and sarcastic behaviors about love. Male and female individuals of all ages may resort to using metaphorical expletives, derogative terms and negative expressions to express displaced heartache and emotional anger resulting from unfulfilled love or love abandonment.
Abused children, starved for love, rebel against authority, misbehave for negative attention and potentially become inflicted with low self-esteem. The absence of a sense of genuine love in a child’s life leaves a child emotionally vulnerable. Emotionally vulnerable individuals become susceptible to alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, criminal behavior, psychological unbalance and suicidal depression unless on some level love intervenes and gives them hope and reason for change.
Oxytocin, pheromones, other hormones and biochemical factors have been found to play a part in attachment theory, human bonding and emotional conceptions of love. Studies of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis suggest that the quality and manner in which children are reared influences the development of the neurological systems which regulate individual stress levels.
Adrenal insufficiency, also referred to as hormonal imbalance, has been associated with repressed physical attraction and repressed emotional attachment. Attachment anxiety has been shown to raise levels of cortisol which in turn is believed to elevate manageable levels of distress into unmanageable levels of stress that are credited with being responsible for a number of health risks, fatigue and depression.
Attachment clarity is understanding and having clarity of purpose for your attachment to others. Achieving attachment clarity for yourself will assist you with consciously making decisions about physical and emotional interactions that are in your best interest and that are mutually rewarding. When you love well with clarity, you are apt to laugh more and smile more. You will experience more vitality and energy. Forgiveness will come easier for sincere apologies when communications embrace explanations with transparency and listening with authentic understanding.
In a variation of the poem, Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte (1924 -2005), “If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, He learns to find love in the world.” Love is at the heart of all human attachments and serves to strengthen the human spirit. It is love that continually gives rise to hope for better tomorrows among mankind. It is love that binds us all in spite of ourselves.