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What is your attachment style?
January 27, 2009
4:27 am
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CraigCo
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I think my wife abandoned & likely cheated on me (she'd had a history of that) as a result of her lowered self esteem due to her resuming alcohol consumption following several years of sobriety. She had lost herself & I couldn't manage to do anything short of the usual enabling, then after pulling back from the enabling style I found myself powerless to do anything but watch her spiral downward. She wasn't able to contribute in the marriage emotionally, spiritually, physically or financially for that matter with the exception of spending on booze & occasional gambling bouts.

As Tez had mentioned earlier, "Cheaters might be passionate; but intimacy and commitment are surely in very short supply..."

Once again her past caught up with her & again she chose to run from intimacy. I'm thinking that could certainly trigger an insecure/anxious mindset?

January 27, 2009
9:14 am
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Tez, the reason it has left me feeling bad about myself is because I look back and see all the clues that I ignored and I think of the stuff I put up with out of him and wonder what was wrong with me that I did it.

I knew some of the stuff he had done before he met me, but I had never had an experience like that and DID think that I was all that and a bag of chips and he couldn't possibly be cheating on ME. No one had ever done that to me. What it has done is rob me of my self confidence and I am struggling to get it back. As I say, I used to have a backbone. I just don't know where it went.

I don't trust myself anymore and when I even think of being in a relationship I wonder if I can ever trust again.

So far, there is no one on the horizon and my standard joke is that the UPS man is going to have to drive up to my deck and unload anyone that that might be.

At times I find myself longing for someone to share with, but obviously not enough to do anything about it.

Bitsy

January 27, 2009
5:33 pm
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CraigCo

On 27-Jan-09 you wrote:

"Once again her past caught up with her & again she chose to run from intimacy. I'm thinking that could certainly trigger an insecure/anxious mindset?"

Could well be so. Do you think that your wife has an addiction to alcohol? Or alternatively did she just like her booze and the effects it has/had on her?

If your wife is an alcoholic then there are probably powerful inherited genetic factors that would come into play with her besides the interaction of your and her attachment styles in your relationship.

January 27, 2009
6:19 pm
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Bitsy

On the 27-Jan-09 you wrote:

"Tez, the reason it has left me feeling bad about myself is because I look back and see all the clues that I ignored and I think of the stuff I put up with out of him and wonder what was wrong with me that I did it."

Tell me about it! I think a great many of us do this. We want to believe that our partners really love us. To serve our wishes we deny, excuse and ignore all sorts of warning signs that point to problems in our relationship in the futile hope that love(passion) will conquer everything. Of course passion, being the initial 'bait', will not sustain a relationship for too long without intimacy and commitment. I found that out the hard way. I tried for 21 years to get my partner to open up and share her thoughts and feelings at more than a very superficial level to no avail. I hardly knew her. As far as she was concerned commitment meant nothing. She had some cockeyed romantic notion that love(passion)conquered all. Unfortunately, without intimacy and commitment, passion soon suffers. I maintained heaps of commitment from my side. But in the end the whole lot failed. Commitment without passion and intimacy is what they call 'empty' love. That's what I had.

It takes two to tango. If one partner doesn't want to dance or wants to dance with more than one at the same time then the tango doesn't happen.

And you further wrote:

"What it has done is rob me of my self confidence and I am struggling to get it back. As I say, I used to have a backbone. I just don't know where it went."

I sure know what you are talking about here.

In a previous toxic relationship years ago, I was very addicted to a woman that finally failed after 18 months. The more I 'gave' the less she respected me and the less I respected myself. Finally I ended up grovelling so much that I sickened myself. One day I realized that she was getting her jollies in direct proportion to the degree that I would bend over backwards to please her despite her deliberately inflicted taunting of me. But the horrible part was my further realization that she was needing a bigger 'fix' each time I broke off with her and came back 'cap in hand'. The spiral downwards for me was becoming almost vertical. My self-confidence, self-esteem and my sense of self-competence fell to almost zero. I had no backbone left at all. In self-sickening desperation, I finally bit the bullet, went through hell and came back much stronger and wiser. But it took me 10 years of hard work on myself to completely recover. When I fell into a similar toxic relationship many years later, I saw all the warning signs quickly. I pulled the pin after only 4 months and got over the 'separation' pain very quickly indeed. I have quite enough backbone now - with knowledge, insights and courage it seems to have regrown reasonably well.

I believe that my early relationship(attachment style, etc) with my mother plays a crucial part in my addiction to certain specific women today. However, I am very wary of the power of this addiction thing. Now I avoid these kind of women like the plague. IMHO, how easily we separated from our mothers/'primary care givers', that is, our attachment style, is how easily we separate from our partners, either temporarily or permanently, in adult relationships.

January 27, 2009
7:00 pm
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I wonder. I started to say that I had no attachment with my mother. I think I learned from an early age not to trust her. She would tell me to go to sleep now, we are going to Disney World tomorrow. Of course the only time I ever went was Summer of 1978. As I got older she isolated me from my father and I became her caretaker in her alcoholism. She convinced me to tell her everything that was going on at school and in my friends lives, then she would get on the phone and drunk dial all my friends parents to ask what was wrong with me. She even called the police in 1984 and told them I came back from the World Fair hooked on drugs and beat her up.

I obviously did not date a lot in high school and have only had 3 serious relationships in my life. The first two men in my life were honorable. I left both of them because I wanted something more. I don't know what it was about the last one that took me so long to walk away. Never in my adult life have I put up with anyone humiliating me and still don't know why I allowed it to happen with this one. The only thing I can say is that the sex was mind blowing. I was completely uninhibited.

Bitsy

January 27, 2009
9:57 pm
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marypoppins
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I think that great uninhibited sex can symbolize the unconditional love and acceptance we never got as kids, and that we'll chase it for a long time. Especially when we don't love or accept ourselves completely.

Until we do the work necessary to secure self love and acceptance, through therapy, in my opinion, we will continue to give others the power to define us and make us happy and secure.

Part of recovery, in my opinion, is getting over the fact that we didn't get what we needed as children and learning how to give it to ourselves.

Mary

January 28, 2009
7:50 pm
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For the most part I am over my childhood. I just brought it up for the history of it.

Bitsy

January 28, 2009
8:23 pm
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Bitsy

On the 27-Jan-09 you wrote:

"The only thing I can say is that the sex was mind blowing. I was completely uninhibited."

In both my toxic, addictive relationships it was the same way for me too. This was what finally gave me the clue to what was going on in both my psyche and in that of the women to whom I was addicted. The second of these two women was multi-orgasmic for the first time in her life. She had massive orgasms of the fluid flowing kind - if you know what I mean. The first of the two used to go into convulsions with only the whites of her eyes showing, screaming out: "Oh God, Oh God! Fuck me, fuck me." so loud that I thought the neighbors might call the police. Yet she was a prim and proper lady otherwise.

Now to the point of the above; I used visualization techniques in recalling exactly what it was that turned me on so much sexually. In visualization meditation I peeked deep down into my own psyche to see exactly what it was that underpinned my ecstacy. I clearly 'saw'- as opposed to thought - that in the first relationship I was making an intimate connection to the whole cosmos through being physically interconnected in sex with this woman. After further insight meditation I realized that I had known this very same interconnectedness with my mother in my earliest infancy and then lost it!!! It then became obvious to me that this woman had 'something' that invoked the powerful recall of the same feelings of cosmic connectedness that I experienced in childhood. Those feelings were ecstatic in the extreme. This 'something' I later chose to call a 'template match'. My theory is that when I meet a 'template match' in a woman this woman has the power to produce in me cosmic sexual feelings of the most ecstatic kind. In the case of the second of my addictive relationships, the very seeing of the ecstasy that I was invoking in this woman was a high without equal. It was like I was playing a Stradivarius violin like a maestro producing the music of the spheres with any prior practice or training and not knowing how or why. Of course a baby in extremely pleasing mommy must feel the same feeling of ecstasy. Is this evolution's way of ensuring that babies and mothers bond so powerfully???

Now comes the punchline. The pain of abandonment felt as a consequence of the slightest hint of rejection of me by either woman sent me plummeting into the depths of hell where the emotional agony and torment seemed to know no bounds. This roller coaster ride between the extremes of ecstasy and agony were sending me crazy. Breaking completely free of the emotional pain in the first case took 10 years; in the second took only months. The difference was attributable to the amount of insight into myself and the knowledge of how to combat the emotional pain that I had gained in the interim period between the two toxic relationships. I have had many sexual relationships in my life. Only 2 ever produced the sexual highs of which we speak. Both were toxic. The rest though good were/are mediocre by comparison. Knowing what I now know about toxic relationships, I'll settle for mediocrity in this regard any day.

January 29, 2009
7:30 am
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Tez,
Wow.

Bitsy

January 30, 2009
1:49 pm
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_anonymous
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Tez- The Insecure attachement yes, and now it is mostly avoidant. I feel so much safer, calmer, sane, being unattached. My husband is in jail and I am happier than ever, the days go flyng by and when I think about his release date I think "so soon". The only thing that gives me anxiety is the thought of ever being around him again.

Recently I started talking to my mom about her relationship with my dad. BINGO. There it was my dad only told her he loved her 2 times. He wouldnt even hold her hand. Never ever comforted her. Sex was mechanical. I mean there it was. Why I got attached to the worse man that I have ever met in my entire life. Why I rejected healthy man after healthy man. Why I never got attached to a healthy man.

I have an appointment to see a psychiatrist in a few weeks and have been going to see a therapist in the hopes to dissolve these bonds. Some of the stuff I do helps, but not 100%. And I dont want the only way my attachment will be broken is to become to attach to someone else. But I am at the point I cant get close to anyone. I just feel numb.

January 30, 2009
5:59 pm
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Tez, THAT is very interesting.

I am just relating that to one of my last "relationships"- I use that term loosely, as eventually it was mostly only physical.

But he was hands down the best lover I had ever had as far as physical reponses, but was also a very toxic and disordered person.

Lots to think about there.

Thanks for sharing that.

sd

January 30, 2009
11:40 pm
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Destinystar.

When you picked your husband, do you think it was because he was some kind of image of your dad? Were you trying to change your husband into the kind of guy that you wanted your dad to be? Or were you trying to get your husband, i.e. your substitute dad, to love you as you wanted to be loved by your dad but wasn't?

January 30, 2009
11:42 pm
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sdesigns.

Thanks for your thanks and your sharing.

January 31, 2009
8:34 am
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So do you think we will ever be able to have this WOW sex with a healthy person?

Bitsy

January 31, 2009
2:27 pm
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Tez- It was deeper than that. I had no idea what type of relationship my parents had I mean consciensly anyways until my mome spelled it out to me the other night.

On the outside my dad and my husband are absolutly nothing alike. My dad was born and raised in a big city. He never smoked, drank, did drugs or used foul language. He was loyal, didnt cheat, great provider. Religiouse. He never physically abused my mom or us kids. We had the best of everything. Took us kids out for family time every weekend. Close to his parents. He drove nice cars, wore designer clothes.

My husband is a drug addict, alcoholic, wears used clothes from the thrift store or camaflouge pants from army surplus stores. He grows an unruly beard. Hardly baths. Doesnt wear deoderant, or use cologne. Hunts, fishes, smokes pot. His home was a filthy delpated shack. He heats with wood. Truck has 4 unmatching tires, seat of truck no bolted in, coins, wrappers, filth everywhere. He was a disorganized mess. Never took his kids to movies, parks, or even bought them a birthday gift.

But, when my mom started to explain the emotional details of her relationship with my dad there it was. He was so cold and distant. After years and years of putting up with him on that note she left him and never looked back. I remember him always saying insults to her and about everyone else that wasnt from his ethnic back ground. I came from a mixed marrige. He was always running my moms religion and race down.

My husband constantly insulted me, my race, my religion, as well as my kids. He was always cold and distant. No affection.

I have had many healthy men come my way and I couldnt connect or get attached to any of them. But this glaringly obvious monster I could.

I do go to therapy but it hasnt even touched these issues.

I am trying like hell to crack this code so I can emotionally break free.

I think your thread is interesting cause it is pin pointing the cause of our problems.

January 31, 2009
11:53 pm
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TEZ- The love triangle elements that you mentioned. I had none of them in my marriage.. Then men that demonstated those characteristics to me in the past sent me recoiling. Makes me feel trapped. My mother was very negligent and unloving. The type of person that would take a sick baby and lock the baby in a room and go off somewhere.

My husband completely and totally ignored me. Never ever smiled at me or cared. He was never there for me. Always mentally abusive.

I guess my attachment style is to attach to someone who is totally unavailable. What category is that?

February 1, 2009
1:50 am
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Bitsy,

On the 31-Jan-09 you asked:

"So do you think we will ever be able to have this WOW sex with a healthy person?"

No I don't. This is a question the answer to which will depend upon the nature of the primary caregiver. In my own case the answer is a definite 'no'. My mother had a very self-centered, vindictive and deceitful disposition. My 'template match' is modeled around my mother. Therefore in my case any person, with whom 'wow' sex is possible for me, will have many if not all of my mother's characteristics. Such a person is by very nature almost impossible to have as a partner in a happy, long lasting relationship. Such a person would not be not "healthy" mentally.

A healthy person would be a total template mismatch for me; therein making wow sex impossible.

Someone who was well parented and who has therefore a healthy 'template model' in his or her psyche, may well have wow sex with a healthy person who is also a template match for them.

My answer is to have loving but less than wow sex with a healthy, lovable person with whom I can share the good things of life. Realizing the agony that awaits me in a wow sex relationship keeps me contented in a less than wow sex relationship.

Mistaking 'wow sex' for being an indication of 'true love' is a huge mistake.

True love entails all three corners of Sternberg's triangle not just the one. The nature of my template match precludes two.

February 1, 2009
2:02 am
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Destinystar

On the 31-Jan-09
you wrote:

"I guess my attachment style is to attach to someone who is totally unavailable. What category is that?"

Perhaps someone who you can easily 'avoid' emotionally speaking - insecure/anxious/avoidant?

From your brief posts it seems to me that you have picked someone who is emotionally unavailable like your father was. Why? That is a question for you to answer. It could be that you want to make your 'template match'- your father substitute - see your inner core self and to love that little girl whom you wanted your dad to recognize and to love. This is only one of several possible reasons.

Perhaps your therapist might eventually go down this road in his/her own good time.

February 1, 2009
9:00 am
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When we're unhealthy, we dont think we're good enough for the healthy person and that leads to anxiety and discomfort. When you know the person is uunhealthy just like you then you're at ease. The contrast is not there. You can be yourself and relax. That helps in having good sex.

Also if you're with an unhealthy person, you know that you dont really want to be with this person. Your gut tells you its not going to work out. There's a certain burden that comes with a relationship. "What is she thinking, does she like me? I might have to spend 15 years with this same person, dang". That stuff keeps your anxiety level up. When you're with the unhealthy person, you dont worry about a relationship and you're more relaxed anyway. You know even if you did have a relationship, she wouldnt be better than you because you're both unhealthy.

So, knowing that you're both at the same level basically relaxes you and you can be present in the moment and thats when you can have the 'wow' sex. Thats all it is. My advice is to not worry about having wow sex but practice focusing on the present. It doesnt matter if people are unhealthy because everyone is, to an extent. Dont be that judgemental about it, its alright.

The most important thing is to listen to your heart. It will tell you when that person is unhealthy. Listen to what it says and leave that person if thats what you want to do.

So basically, wow sex happens when you're relaxed with the person and you're not worrying about your performance and the "I'm not good enough for her or him" thing.

We're just talking about sex, how about a wow breakfast or something. I could use one right now.

February 1, 2009
12:45 pm
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Hey All,

I have had a lot of wow sex in my lifetime, and I'm very grateful for it. Certainly something to "reflect" upon during this period of NO sex. However, in all of those wow-sex relationships, I didn't have good boundaries nor the self love and acceptance I have now.

There's a guy in my life right now, a good friend. There's no sex, but I think about it. Our friendship is a new experience for me because I'm more whole than I've ever been. I trust and accept myself, so I've procceeded differently with him. Sometimes I'm not sure how to be "normal", but he's a good man and has proven himself trustworthy. He doesn't have the fucked-up family background we all have.

My point is, there is a healthy intimacy growing with him, and I'm fighting all my urges to control it and trying not to play all the games I played in my dysfunctional relationships. I can only imagine what sex would be like with him, but I think it would be WOW. A different kind of WOW - one with trust, a genuine love, and good boundaries. I'm not looking anymore for someone to complete me or for someone to give me all of the love and acceptance I never got as a child.

So, my friendship with this guy may never become sexual, but it gives me hope for future relationships. It's still a beautiful friendship and WOW in many ways.

((((All of Us))))

Mary

February 1, 2009
8:12 pm
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Tez- What you said makes perfect sense. The part about wanting to be recognized and loved. Now you have me thinking. Seems like I am fixated at that level of development and somehow getting my husband to recognize and love me will resolve that conflict.
Developmentally humans have to go through each stage to get to the next. Cant
skip stages. So what does one do if the age your were supposed to go through a stage was when you were an infant and you skipped it. Then what? Is there any hope?

I am basically a detached person that avoids intimacy. Does that mean that the type of man who would be attracted to me would be an unhealthy one?

February 2, 2009
4:26 am
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Destinystar

On the 1-Feb-09 you wrote:

"So what does one do if the age your were supposed to go through a stage was when you were an infant and you skipped it. Then what? Is there any hope?"

This is my take for what it is worth.

The theory of linear childhood development is very nice for the authors of text books used in uni classrooms, but life isn't always so linear.

We all seem to form a very generic world view in early life. At one extreme that world view is that our caregivers can be implicitly trusted not to abandon us and our world is a highly supportive, friendly place. The other extreme is a word view that sees our caregivers as completely untrustworthy and likely to abandon us. Our world is seen as a very hostile, unfriendly place wherein we must always be on the alert, self-reliant and ready to fend off enemies. Our world view for most of us falls somewhere in between these extremes. How willing we are to trust others and how positive we see our world around us is a vicarious measure of our world view. Of course even within the individual there are variations and fluctuations in this world view on a daily basis. But the tendency is towards some mean world view in the individual IMHO.

When we approach the individuation stage of childhood development our generic world view is already in place. Our attachment style to our primary caregiver reflects this view to a large extent IMHO.

In later adult relationships we are highly likely to select a partner who is a 'template match' if one is in the offering. Our attachment to that partner, the 'full or partial template match', can well be a reflection of our attachment style to our primary caregiver as a result. Of course if we are highly cognizant of this process we can avoid 'template matches' and select partners based on sound, wise judgment in a similar way that arranged marriages were made in days of yore.

You also wrote:

"I am basically a detached person that avoids intimacy. Does that mean that the type of man who would be attracted to me would be an unhealthy one?"

I don't think this necessarily follows. But it could well be the case.

Remember that some of us tend to project 'psychological images' into others believing that this is how they really are. The 'falling out of love' process often involves the discovery that the person is not who we thought they were. Nothing is either black or white - there are only shades of grey. We humans are not simple beings!!!

February 2, 2009
4:31 am
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Marypoppins

On the 1-Feb-09 you wrote:

"My point is, there is a healthy intimacy growing with him, and I'm fighting all my urges to control it and trying not to play all the games I played in my dysfunctional relationships."

Good stuff!! This game playing is for immature, the manipulative and the uninsightful. As you obviously know, game playing of this kind leads to failed relationships if not recognized and dealt with early on in the relationship.

February 2, 2009
3:11 pm
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Tez- I am dazzled by your brillance.

After speaking to my sister and my mother in regards to this toxic man I have formed an unhealthy attachement to better known as my husband what you just described in regards to the template of my primary caregiver I made that revelation. And you confirmed it certified it, and put a stamp of approval on it.

Now that I have become autonomous, detached and live my life as I see fit and do not desire to attract or be attached to another. Guess what? Without any effort on my part I have had no problems attracting people into my life and they dont disappear just cause I tell them I am not available.

The reason why I wonder if they are healthy is because why would someone want a person like me who is the way I described?

Another observation, is these people that some of these people entering into my life remind me of how I used to be and it is such a TURN OFF.

February 2, 2009
5:33 pm
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Destinystar

On the 2-Feb-09 you wrote:

"Another observation, is these people that some of these people entering into my life remind me of how I used to be and it is such a TURN OFF."

While I think that it is good to go to therapy and to think deeply about things, on another level we need to be careful not to miss out on our life by dwelling in either the past or the future. The key word here is 'dwelling'. The other extreme is disregarding the past or the future entirely. I think that it is good to be present to the 'here and now' in order to taste life to its fullest. This seems to me to require a certain presence to the 'here and now' whilst at the same time referencing the past gently and at the same time holding equinaminous expectations of the future, neither of which is obsessive or extreme in nature. For me it is all about gently seeking balance or seeking to attain the 'middle ground' between extremes. Preoccupation with self and the state of our mental health is as much a part of mental illness as any other component. Being carefree while at the same time being careful is very different to being careless. Again the middle road seems to me to be the way.

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