Tired of being called co-dependent? There’s more to it than that


Tired of being called co-dependent? There’s more to it than thatAs the human race has evolved, individuals who became attached to their partners seemed to have the genetic competitive edge.

In addition to a survival advantage, they passed on a preference for forming intimate bonds to their offspring. This results in attachment theory, which is based on the assertion that the need to be in a close relationship is natural because the tendency is genetic. As with other genetic traits, however, there are variants within the population.

Attachment comes in three different styles, none of which is pathological:

  • Secure: Individuals with this attachment style feel comfortable with intimacy. They are generally warm and loving within their relationships.
  • Avoidant: Individuals with this attachment style equate intimacy with a loss of independence. In order to maintain their sense of self, they typically attempt to minimize closeness with others.
  • Anxious: Individuals with this style crave intimacy. They are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them in return.

Individuals with an anxious attachment style have a capacity for great intimacy and have the ability to be very close to their partners. However, they often fear that their partners do not desire the same level of intimacy and this can result in insecurity. This can be further complicated by their unique ability to sense when the relationship is threatened. When they feel insecure in their relationships, they can respond in the following ways:

  • Increased clinginess
  • Inability to concentrate on work
  • Constant thoughts about the relationship
  • Oversensitivity
  • Calling or emailing incessantly
  • Trying to make the other person jealous

These responses are triggered by feelings of danger and the perception that their partner is unresponsive because they or the relationship is in trouble. Their response does not come from weakness or indicate that the person has some sort of disorder or is co-dependent. It is an evolutionary survival skill and indicates that the individual has an activated attachment system. Once a person’s attachment system has been activated, they will be unable to calm down until they get an indication from their partner that the relationship is safe.

Understanding the attachment system is crucial for people with an anxious attachment style, because for those persons looking for a partner, finding someone with a secure attachment style is the best option.

Join us next time for dating tips for people with anxious attachment styles.

For immediate support on managing anxiety, and developing healthy relationships, visit us at workhealthlife.com where we have health and wellness resources on developing healthy relationships and 24/7 counselling services available.

Based on original content from Lise Allen, Counsellor in Calgary, Alberta.

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