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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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  • Gone Girl
    • Gone Girl
    • June 18, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you so much for this podcast! Now I know why I panic when my potted plants depend on me for watering… Or when student interns depend on me for guidance. I feel both resentful and fearful when I happen to see someone in a wheelchair, who is so dependent on other people’s help.
    I belong to the fearful-avoidant category. But mostly, I withdraw into my turtle shell when there is a threat of rejection or when someone gets too close to me, since I don’t have any close enough relationships for lashing out. If I had any romantic relationships, it would be a disaster!
    I have been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder and I’m doing therapy, but right now we are focusing on the relationships between the different parts of my personality (inner child, inner critic, inner rebellious teenager, etc.), rather than other people. I think the attachment theory can also be applied in this scenario, e.g. when my inner critical adult doesn’t comfort the inner child.

  • Rod
    • Rod
    • June 17, 2016 at 4:36 am

    WOW…WOW and WOW…so many things were blasting through my mind as the pod continued, thinking about myself as a child, my past relationships, close friends and their relationships, and the potential of a future relationship, which, I have decided to abandon and why..I’ll bet there are a ton of INTP’s in your client list.

    I must say that all three of you use metaphors in your discussions that are more ground level and real, which helps to connect with your listeners, no reason to sugar coat it, just describe it in a real context. Love it! Great Job!!

  • RB
    • RB
    • June 15, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Hi PH and Bruce,

    Such a great topic you guys chose for this latest installment; attachment styles can be such an enlightening topic. I know you thought you were monologuing during the podcast, but your candor and glib were actually a very refreshing way of talking about the subject. Even though I know a lot about attachment theory from previous study and research, I felt like it hit a majority of the important points in an entertaining way.

    In the beginning of your podcast, I thought to myself “Wait, he’s missing at least a third attachment type”… which was answered for me as you continued talking and I am glad you added your two cents into it. As someone who knows this type (a rather disorganized fearful/avoidant myself), it was well worth it to offer the commentary and resources you did.

    Overall well-done and well received! I’d love to see a follow-up PHQ about this in the future, like growth states through each attachment style. I’m somewhere in the middle of my own.


  • Bruce Muzik
    • Bruce Muzik
    • June 15, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Tasha.

  • Bruce Muzik
    • Bruce Muzik
    • June 15, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    What she said!

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