It was life changing enough for me when I became aware of attachment styles (refer to last weeks blog) but when I actually found practical ways to come into secure attachment and create safety for myself – wow! – that’s when my ego really had to die. And like with any good death, the rebirth was so empowering. I softened and became a lot more real with who I am and what I need – making no apologies for either.
I stopped creating so much separation. I stopped compromising my values and desires in order to “keep” love. I also stopped grasping for love and bending over backwards to “get” love back again whenever it was withdrawn from me.
Some of the lessons I learned I want to share with you in today’s blog. Below, there are some practical ways for you to put an end to addictive/avoidant cycles so that you can support yourself and others into secure attachment.
Overcoming Love Addiction
It is possible to wean yourself away from neediness and start being a secure and confident individual. Here are a few tips to help you shift from being needy and clingy in a relationship to feeling whole within yourself.
- Give space: Read the signs and honour your partner’s need for space. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are pushing you away, but if they are pulling away, don’t take it so personally. Be patient and use the time to connect to yourself. The thing with love avoiders is that as soon as you give them space, they feel much safer to move towards you.
- Enjoy time alone: This is healthy for your relationship and maintains your sense of self and individual identity. Go to the spa, meditate, listen to music, spend time in nature. Prioritise your primary relationship with your inner soul mate; this is a very attractive trait and it is good for you!
- Focus on positives: Notice how your partner does love you and be grateful for how they show up for you the way they do. Also, focus on what’s wonderful about you as love addicts have a tendency to beat up on themselves.
- Choose what brings you joy: Receive joy and pleasure through things that you enjoy outside of the relationship and if you don’t know – find out!
- Social life: Fill your need for conversation, support, intimacy, fun and companionship from more people than just your partner. Nurture and maintain your friendships and be open to new friends.
- Self-worth: Love, respect and honour yourself by frequently asking, “What would someone who loves themselves do right now?” When you love and respect yourself, others can love and respect you too.
- Connect intentionally from love rather than fear: When you feel the need to connect, check in with yourself – what is your intention to connect? Is your intention coming from love? Or, is it coming from fear? Fear of losing love? Fear of just being with alone yourself? Is it out of habit or to gain reassurance that you are still loved? Be discerning.
- Relax: Stop over-analysing and worrying. Feel your feelings, validate them, express and release then let go and flow – invite pleasure and joy into your life.
- Quality over quantity: Smaller amounts of real, deep, intimate, pleasurable time is better than lots of mediocre time in each other’s pockets. Stop begging, bargaining or trying for more time together and surrender to being in your body and fully present in the quality time you share together.
- Entice Desire: Open your partners heart through sensuality and sexuality rather than poking and prodding them to find out what’s going on for them
- Sense of purpose: When you lack purpose, you tend to make your partner your purpose and this can feel like a burden. Raise your serotonin levels and sense of independence by directing your energy towards your career.
- Speak up – ask for what you need: Do not compromise your desires and interests because you have to care for the other person or you are scared of losing him. Try ‘I feel/I need/I would like…. This would allow me to/help me to/provide me with….’ Ask for what you need from those who can actually give it to you if yourself or your partner can’t.
- Make healthy requests: Ask for what you would like rather than fuming, making passive aggressive comments, demanding, hinting or humiliating. Eg. ‘Could you please put your phone down’instead of ‘is that phone attached to your hand?’
- Assert healthy boundaries and say no sometimes: Make your “no” more important than anyone else’s “yes”. This is part of loving and respecting yourself and stops you giving your power away.
- Follow your independent goals and dreams: Follow your own desires irrespective of your partner! Have and invest time in short and long-term goals that are not dependent on your relationship.
- Have a daily self-practice: Do something every day to tune into you, to love you and to come into a more centred and aligned space.
Here are a few tips to help you shift from depriving yourself of connection and trust in your relationships. They will also help you to release your fear of losing freedom or others depending too much on you.
- Safety: Look at how avoiding attachment actually did serve you at one point and how it no longer does. Tell yourself “I do belong. It’s not my job to fix anyone. Love is safe. Someone can love me without judgement and I can be there for others without enmeshment and without losing my freedom.” Everyone has needs, including you.
- Heal the past: Why did you start avoiding in the first place? Love avoiders are often afraid that things that happened in the past are going to keep occurring – which is true if you don’t heal your past. What happened to you in the past if you let love in or if you trusted love?
- Stop pulling away: Often you need space because you’re letting yourself get lost in someone else’s life and needs. Safety is found when you can maintain a strong sense of yourself even when others are trying to influence you. Stay true to yourself. If you still need space, you can ask for that, but try staying first and moving toward love rather than moving away from love.
- Assert your need for space with love: Recognise when you need space and honour that. Communicate “I love you and I love spending time with you and I also need to take time to come back to me so I can be even more present to you.”
- Let go of the ideal perfect relationship: Practice accepting that it’s ok for your partner to not get it “right” all the time.
- Learn to identify, honour and express your emotional needs with vulnerability: Prepare yourself for love by anticipating that you will also encounter fear and painful feelings about yourself and your partner. If you can identify how you are feeling, validate it instead of thinking everything should be rosy and then ask your partner for your needs from a place of vulnerability, you will begin to feel supported. Use the “I feel/I need/I would like…. This would allow me to/help me to/provide me with….” when you are hurt instead of creating distance.
- Self-reflect: If you think your partner is the “crazy” or irrational one, take a step back and ask yourself what you might be doing to contribute to the crazy (not ‘if’ but ‘what’, because you are). Focus on how you or the WE can grow and evolve rather than how the other person should grow and evolve.
- Lean into your relationship rather than away from it: While your gut may be screaming for you to run away or shut down, the best way to get the space you want is actually to lean into the relationship. Acknowledge and validate how your partner is feeling; practice maintaining physical touch until you can relax into it, or simply acknowledge to your partner that you feel like shutting down or running away.
- Say ‘yes’ sometimes: Choose courage over comfort – your withholding is likely magnifying the neediness! If you can’t say ‘yes’ without being bitter or resentful, you really need to evaluate whether or not you want to be in a relationship at all. Saying yes is part of the deal!
- Be responsive: When you lean in, you’re telling your partner, ‘I care about you and I don’t want you to feel alone.’ Put down your phone and look them in the eye. Use physical touch to reinforce to your partner that you are literally there. Ask meaningful questions.
- Learn to identify running away strategies that you use: Deactivation strategies are any thoughts, behaviours or patterns which the avoidant partner uses to put distance between themselves and their partners. Identify the strategies you use most often so you can be aware when you revert to them. When you want to withdraw your love – check in and ask yourself why? Do you genuinely need space or are you avoiding intimacy?
- Be aware of your tendency toward the negative:Make a relationship gratitude list – find and focus on the positives! Practice letting go to make space for the new instead of hanging onto the past as a way of staying in fear and creating separation.
- Make intimacy easier: As an avoidant, it’s easier to get close to your partner when you are doing things together – dancing, spending time in nature, worshipping each other’s bodies, ritual. Get into the body and out of the mind!
- Bringing more ease into potentially confronting ‘talks’: Talk while you are going for a walk, getting out in nature or doing something you enjoy together. This will help you to create safety because the intimacy won’t be so intense. Give structure to conversations that are confronting – taking turns in speaking, openly asking for needs and setting a timer can be helpful.
You can support one another towards secure attachment by being aware of each other’s needs (the tips above will help) and creating a space for these needs to be met with actions or gentle guidance. Once you are aware of both of your attachment styles and ways you can both overcome your patterns, it is much easier to love each other than fight each other.
At the end of the day, both love addicts and love avoiders need to start depending on themselves for their emotional health, rather than each other. The most important keys here are your practice (daily practice) and a practice to return to love when you are triggered and feel like withdrawing or grasping.
For both love addicts and love avoiders it is so important that when you are triggered, you go within and check out what’s going on for you before going into a stress response.
Most importantly, you must be willing to FEEL YOUR PAIN rather than making your partner responsible for it when a trigger arises.
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When my partner and I were in this cycle we were acting more like “wound-mates” than soul mates. We were behaving more like childish adults wanting to bandaid wounds rather than mature adults really meeting ourselves and each other with respect, authenticity, vulnerability and self-accountability. There was so much suffering in all of that. Too much.
Enjoy and good luck in your journey towards child-like (rather than childish), joyous, safe, passionate relationships!