Thoughts On...

Thoughts On… Love, Reluctance + Attachment Styles

There’s a naïvety to those skeptical about love – those who have perhaps had one bad experience, one bad heartbreak and are now thoroughly bitter and afraid of it. I don’t think I count myself as one of them, I’ve just become increasingly aware of my own behaviours in romantic relationships and the parts I’ve had to play in situations going south.

In your first relationship, with your first love, it’s common to think that this will be the one and only person in the world to ever love you. You might think you’re too emotional, too quirky with too much of a muddled past or complicated sexuality to be loved by anyone else than your first. This typical tactic of love narrowing your perspective is not founded in reason. But holy shit does it feel real. This is probably why my first relationship dragged on one to two years longer than it should have and caused me more grief than happiness.

But that’s certainly not all I’ve taken from it. It taught me that I was lovable; that I was capable of being intimate despite my previous anxiety and confusion surrounding intimacy; that a lack of communication can be fatal; that attempting to be “cool” and unbothered about everything (incessant gaming) can actually make you a doormat but also that you should not let pure emotion always guide the things you say as this can form large cracks in a relationship; that if you feel lonely, being really clingy will just make your partner withdraw more; that you should assess what your needs are and if it’s actually viable for your partner to meet them and that, yes, breakups are difficult but you will survive it and that’s kind of just the catch of falling in love. If it feels so good in the beginning of course it’s going to be painful and difficult when it ends.

“You must love in a way that the person you love feels free.” – Thich Nhat Hanh”

“Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other”. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Coming across quotes like this has helped me to target my clingy nature. It’s an ongoing exercise for me to dissolve my bad habits in love. Although I know that this is the way love maybe should be, I do still find it difficult. When people have anxious attachment issues, they can start to love from a place of fear, being worried they’re not going to get their needs met. This can cause people to be more clingy, act out and even unwittingly create the situations they’re so terrified of: like conflict, withdrawal of a partner or feeling more insecure in the relationship in general.

This could explain my sometimes reluctant nature in relationships now – it’s really just a cover-up for my historically romantic and and needy modus operandi in relationships. I’m now coming from a place of not wanting to hurt or smother a partner with my neediness, of not wanting to expect too much from them and make them feel trapped or guilty for being too busy to see me every day.

My reluctance also comes from having been proven wrong multiple times. When you’re in love, it’s easy to feel like the relationship that you’re in is the right one and that, yes, this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Looking back on past relationships, I have thought this every time but with some hindsight, I can see clear as day that I was blinded by love. So while I’m enjoying my current relationship, I’m simultaneously holding it at arms’ length, which I have to admit is a bit difficult.

A lot of the time, people find themselves in relationships with people who want different things than what they do. In my first relationship, after a couple of years I wanted us to move in with each other. It seemed to be me that brought it up the most. Whenever I heard about couples living together it instilled in me a pang of jealousy and anxiety: “What’s wrong with me?” I put it down to me being so emotional, which I was, but I was also with an avoidant partner who had a fear of emotional intimacy. He only reciprocated the desire to move in together when I was breaking up with him. But for months I held on, desperate.

If your partner does not want the same things you do, be honest with yourself about it. It can be difficult when you’re in love, we feel so willing to make compromises and to bend our reality of emotional and practical needs. But as harsh as this sounds, I don’t have any regrets about cutting things off, only that I should’ve done it sooner.

I also think that although there are situations where I could’ve left a relationship sooner, I stayed because there was a lesson to be learned that I wasn’t necessarily aware of at the time. Nothing has been wasted and there are no mistakes, just lessons learned.

I think that love can be counted as a human imperative. Virtually everybody who has the capacity for it craves it and therefore it is not a mark of virtue for a person to declare love for another. I also think that the weighted nature of the word means that it can be easily manipulated and used for selfish means: “I did it because I love you”, “your love makes me crazy”.

“I love you” can also be said pleadingly. As if the mere phrase can be enough to excuse someone from gross wrongdoing.

In my last relationship, “I love you”s were said far too soon. And what did we love at that point? The way we felt about each other? The honeymoon phase?

So at this point in my life, more than ever, I am reluctant to say those three words. I’ve been in love for months with the guy that I’m seeing and have not told him. I think that he knows. And I think it is reciprocated. But I find myself analysing what those words really mean and what our motives are behind saying them. Is it a need for acceptance and reciprocity, is it a declaration because we are so overwhelmed by our feelings, is it a way of trapping somebody in a helpless situation in which both parties lose themselves and end up flailing, choking on their need for each other? I’m still figuring that out. But if he says it to me, I will probably say it back, thankful for the emotional release after months of keeping it to myself.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

– SMUT. ❤ xxx



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