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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk with relationship expert Bruce Muzik about attachment theory in relationships.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Love At First Fight – Bruce Muzik
  • Attachment Theory started out as a study of how children created a bond with their parents.
  • Researchers started discovering that the same attachments patterns were in couples.
  • You can be securely attached or insecurely attached to your mate, or child.
  • People who are securely attached:
    • Grew up in a place where they found comfort when necessary.
    • They are comfortable depending on others and having others rely on them.
    • They are comfortable providing comfort and support to others.
    • Securely attached people have long term relationships and fewer fights.
  • Insecurely connected people:
    • Are not comfortable depending on their partner,
    • Not comfortable being depended upon,
    • They don’t reach out for support, and
    • They struggle through the power struggle phase. (See previous podcast w/ Bruce Love at First Fight w/ Bruce Muzik)
  • Two characters:
    • Hailstorm – anxious
    • Turtle – avoidant
  • Think of your relationships. How do you react when you feel disconnected from your partner?
  • In attachment theory, the hailstorm:
    • Grew up in the family environment where comfort was inconsistent.
    • Such a child becomes hyper vigilant of monitoring mom’s proximity and availability.
    • They also monitor mom’s emotional responsiveness.
    • Tantrums test mom’s responsiveness when they aren’t getting the things they need.
    • They get into relationships where they have a constant need to feel securely attached.
    • When they perceive they are not securely attached to their partner, the hailstorm can’t address such things reasonably; they get angry and aggressive.
    • They are so angry that mom and dad didn’t comfort them when they were children, that they become clingy in relationships.
    • Hailstorms don’t speak straight to their partner to get your needs met; they get manipulative, angry, controlling, etc.
    • Protest behavior pushes the partner away and creates the hailstorms worst fear – abandonment.
  • Hailstorms end up in relationships with turtles:
    • Turtles are the opposite of the hailstorm.
    • Turtles often appear dismissive.
    • Turtles grew up in families that had no comfort. “Big boys don’t cry.” A popular form of parenting in the 70s. Very destructive.
    • Children cannot regulate their emotions. Mom and dad are the only ones who have the ability to fix what is affecting the child’s emotions.
    • A child will learn to numb themselves, and they grow up into adults that struggle to know how they feel.
    • They look even-keeled, but they aren’t feeling much.
    • Turtles appear independent, but they aren’t truly autonomous.
    • Their independence is a character flaw. They are incapable of depending on others.
    • They’ve never learned to allow people to depend on them. They always keep other human beings at arm’s length.
    • They worry their emotions will get turned on and they will be left vulnerable and open to harm as they were as children.
    • When turtles get into conflict, they shut down their heart and retreat. They are incapable of empathy during this time. When they have alone time, their heart gets reconnected with brain, and they can feel the desire to reunite with their partner.
  • This disconnect is the worst thing for a hailstorm partner.
  • Hailstorms fear abandonment, so they start protesting and becoming critical and demanding, which pushes the turtle deeper into the shell.
  • Turtles worst fear is rejection. They secretly believe they are flawed. Why else would nobody come when they called. Most of their relationships end in the same way.
  • They are terrified someone will need them, and they won’t know what to do, and they’ll be discovered for being flawed. If the turtle lets their hailstorm partner too close, the partner will realize they are flawed and reject them.
  • Turtles main fear is rejection.
  • The second fear is engulfment: losing independence in a relationship. This may be the result of having a helicopter parent.
  • A third insecure attachment style is called fearful avoidant:
    • Usually typified by someone growing up in a chaotic family environment.
    • Painful extremes. Abuse.
    • Fearful Avoidants crave intimacy but are terrified of it.
    • Parents were unstable. They provided some comfort, but also provided abuse.
    • These people struggle the most because they lash out at their partner when things go wrong, then disappear.
    • These need to find a great attachment therapist –
  • These three styles of behavior aren’t types. They Are learned behaviors. They are easy to unlearn too, once you understand what is going on and how to become secure.
  • Secure people are comfortable being dependent.
  • Secure people are comfortable soothing and comforting another.
  • If you want to become a secure couple, learn how to depend on your partner. And how to be dependable for them.
  • How can you become more secure?
  • It is easier to help somebody help their partner than it is to help themselves.
  • What are the things that happen in your relationship that has you so insecure – broken toes.
  • Think of the relationship as a dance – one person leads and the other follows.
  • Imagine your partner has a broken toe, and you don’t know about it. Every time you bump it, they react strongly, and you don’t know what is happening.
  • Now imagine you have multiple broken toes that you aren’t even aware of, you just keep reacting whenever your partner strikes them.
  • Step 1 – know your broken toes.
  • Step 2 – know how to soothe your partner’s broken toes.
  • Step 3 – know how to ask for what you need at the moment.
  • Step 4 – know how to ask what your partner needs at the moment.

In this episode Joel and Antonia talk with relationship expert Bruce Muzik about attachment theory in relationships. #podcast #relationships #love

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  • Ruth Rogers
    • Ruth Rogers
    • November 5, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    This episode resonated with my soul. Thank you for sharing these concepts. They are helping me on my journey toward healing.

  • mary
    • mary
    • October 9, 2018 at 12:57 am

    Hi Bruce
    I am the turtle and my husband the hailstorm. We have tried couples counseling and we just can’t get anywhere. Is it possible for the hailstorm to appear as narcissistic due to this attachment or like someone who hates women? I continue to feel verbally abused by the put downs, aggressive outburst, mocking, antagonizing, disrespect and silent treatments. We are now separated and living apart in different states for 2 years and headed for divorce. What would u advise?

  • Heather Crystaloak
    • Heather Crystaloak
    • September 9, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Although I am completely new to this theory I can totally see it playing out in my friendships. I also think my early friendships were involved in forming my type (fearful avoidant).

    I had a turbulent childhood due to health issues in my family, sometimes I didn’t get what I needed because the health problems either made it impossible or took precedent. I then formed a friendship when I was 4 and I think I became very attached to her, until her family moved away. This pattern with friendships repeated another 3 times with someone I depended on moving away.

    Now I never have many, if any, close friends and when I do I can end up holding onto them really tightly and fearing abandonment. At the moment I am trying not to do this with the latest person I see as a close friend but it’s a real challenge when I am swinging between fearing abandonment and shutting down.

    I am looking forward to learning more about this.

  • Devon Zingale
    • Devon Zingale
    • June 8, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Hello PH and Bill – newly discovered both PH and Attachment Theory, and I’m grateful for learning about both!
    I know I am an Anxious Attached and I deeply believe he is Avoidant. I’ve talked about this with him a bit, but since he will not consider therapy or any books and thinks we can work out whatever we need to, I am starting to question what his type or style really is.
    When I tell him what I need or what would be helpful to me, he focuses on the idea that it sounds like he would have to change. Which isn’t exactly true – but he would have to learn to recognize and not step on MY toes.
    Here’s the problem. I have never heard from him what he needs. His only “complaint” is that I am not happy.
    I’ve read and heard that Turtles can be so detached that they don’t even recognize they have needs. I have been w him for 9 months, we are both almost 50, and we do love one another. I don’t want to end it but how can we RELATE given these details?

  • Sophie
    • Sophie
    • November 16, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you for this, very interesting and accessible. I started looking into attachment theory because I’m having therapy and have many issues with relationships, the most notable of which is the absence of any real intimate relationship (plenty of ‘no strings attached’) for basically most of my adult life (I’m 27).

    I’m definitely the fearful avoidant type, so is my sister. We’ve had our fair share of mental health difficulties and general instability in life. We both encountered sexually traumatic experiences through teenage and adult life. I find myself somewhat perplexed, it’s clear to my sister and I that everything in the garden was not rosy in our childhood lives, however I find it difficult to pinpoint why we should have become so damaged in this fashion.

    My dad would be a textbook turtle and my mum a textbook hailstorm. I think my parents both have undiagnosed mental health difficulties however neither of them struggled through life as much as my sister and I have so far. My dad did get very angry, we were smacked if we were naughty and I do remember once being dragged from one room to another by my dad when I was having an argument with him. I once took and overdose to which my dad responded with irritation that they had to take me to hospital, and after my sister was raped we overheard him stating that it was her fault. We had obviously become substantially dysfunctional by this time…

    Would this constitute abuse? My apologies if that’s a really dumb question. I’m just trying to make sense of it all…

    Thanks again

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