Poetry and musings of a zany Mormon girl who is very proud of her Erda roots.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Attachment Styles and Intimidation

My mom gave me the most recent edition of Scientific American Mind to read this morning. The cover story is an article on attachment styles. It focuses on attachments formed in romantic relationships, but acknowledges that these styles are applicable to all adult interactions.

Apparently, most people fall into one of three categories:

Anxious: Often seen as clingy, needy, or overly concerned that their partner will leave, these people need be reassured regularly that their partner can depend on them and they can depend on their partner.

Avoidant: As others move in closer, these people back off. They may find it difficult to depend on partners and feel uncomfortable or pressured by increased intimacy. A common response is to back away to regain a sense of independence.

Secure: These people can easily express needs and wants. They are comfortable with the give and take aspect of relationships; in being dependable and expecting the same from their partner. They may be seen as boring for the lack of drama in their relationships.

After reading through the article I wonder if I may fit into a fourth category that describes only 3-5% of the population: an odd mixture of Anxious and Avoidant.

In reviewing my failed attempts at forming relationships with young men, who by all means could have been good matches for me, I can see elements of both attachment styles in my behavior and very little of the stability supplied by the third. 

Fear of rejection causes me to fluctuate between allowing the behavior of others to influence my behavior, mood, thoughts, and over-reactions to the point of anxiety attacks. But the moment someone indicates that they need me in any way special, I back off emotionally in attempt to reconcile and maintain my identity as an individual. Once I see that things aren't working out, my instinct is to then work really hard to trouble shoot and increase intamacy. This can make me seem very wishy-washy and unstable, to say the least.

In a lot of ways I feel like a feral cat who used to live on our property.

She desperately wanted to be petted and loved -- mewing and darting close to rub on our legs -- but the moment we drew close to her, she would bite and run off. The cycle continued until we became tired of her and walked away.

I've had occasion to ask dating advice of several people, men and women, who know me well. At separate times I have heard reiterated a concept that both baffles and resonates with me: I intimidate men. Somehow the fact that I am proficient in many different areas of life, hold lofty goals for myself, and manage keep up the appearance of self discipline makes me too hot to handle. And so I am often overlooked.

The advice I often receive from my dad is to act like an air head, show off my body, and bathe in perfume. This goes against my standards for myself and so the advice goes unheeded.

This weekend I spoke with a friend for the first time in several months. This topic came up, so I asked for his opinion on the matter. As he attempted to clarify the concept of intimidation all I could hear was, "You're basically great, but it's the things that make you great that also make you scary."

Can't win for loosing.

I like this song. Please disregard the cheesy video of clasped hands; sickly sweet images of intimacy sort of make me want to gag. It's my Avoidant side coming out to play.

My Anxious side is probably cooing.

1 comment:

  1. This isn't helpful to you particularly, but Adam and I long ago realized that we only hooked up because we DIDN'T try to date... he was an intense RM who felt like he needed to let them know all of his weirdo things (Star Wars, etc.) up front (first date). I was a total flirt who was always hanging out with guys, because I don't know what to do around girls. However, because he tried to date my roommate/best friend (Rebecca), and I got to know him by trying to help him understand her, we work great together. No one could have predicted it. Don't worry, (not that I'm saying you shouldn't try) stuff happens out of the blue. "After all that we can do" and all that good stuff. :-D