We are all babies in matters of the heart. How early relationships with mother affect our personal lives, says psychologist Anna Solunina
We absorb the first experience of love and intimacy with mother’s milk. By assimilating a certain model of acceptance and emotional support, we move it beyond the boundaries of the parental home. We find partners who meet our early experience of intimacy.
Simply, you can assume that you met Brad Pitt in the flesh, but there is a chance that your “mother” is hiding behind the athletic facade – anxious and controlling, inconsistent, cold and rejecting, or maybe the very “pretty good” one, sensitive to your emotional state (and often praised by psychoanalysts). Or already on the second date, you begin to sculpt from the guy the “mother” whom you so longed for – the ideal one, which will accept you with all the jambs (and you will soon disappointedly throw up a bunch of claims that are actually addressed to your mother).
We lose early experience with significant adults in our own novels and families. This interaction of mother and child reveals the essence of the theory of attachment, which describes different styles of relationships throughout life.
And it sheds light on why some of us are ready to change partners like gloves, not being attached to any of them, while others cling to their faithful and are not able to take a step without their approval. The most common models in relationships, rooted in childhood, will be discussed.
Sound the alarm
It so happened that in our latitudes the main type of relationship is co-dependent: one in which a man and a woman cannot function autonomously and each tries to make up for personal deficits at the expense of the other (it does not work out on his own). A simple example. A woman finds a male guardian and builds a parent-child relationship. The man is assigned the function of an older and better knowing, to himself – an unintelligent girl. She lives on his interests and renounces her own independence. By choosing more “experienced” partners, she soothes her anxiety. And anxiety, by the way, is more than enough.
“You can leave at any moment, and I must restrain you with all my might” – the motto of those who are always worried “what if we part.” And this anxiety comes from childhood.
Suppose the mother was inconsistent (either responsive or emotionally distant). The child lacked her presence. Mother left whenever the child needed her. The primary sense of security was formed somehow. As a result, the child, not having sufficient strength to build his own autonomy, “clung” to his mother’s skirt. “Peers mastered many skills, and I, instead of mastering the slides and playing in a team, I was looking for mom. What if she leaves again? ” – Typical speeches in the psychologist’s office. This is about those who have formed the so-called anxious type of attachment. In childhood, such children are especially drawn to their mother, very worried in her absence.
Growing up, a woman with this type of affection is looking for a partner who can become that very “mother” for her: a safe environment where there is everything necessary to survive. She projects her expectations onto her partner: “you are the one who will take responsibility for my life.” Those who have formed an anxious type of attachment are obsessive and emotionally unstable. From time to time, the “anxious” organize strikes, trying to prove their independence to the partner, but the anxiety of self-determination and guilt prevail, and they again dissolve in the partner (by analogy with childhood, when they strive for their mother, they angrily repel her).
On the whole, the absence of a clearly expressed parental love goes around hard. Here are the echoes that many carry inside: “the love of the parents must be earned,” “the parents suffered so much, now I have to live up to their expectations,” “I cannot be loved just like that.” If you have learned well that it is impossible to please your parents (mom and dad are always unhappy), you also know that they are not good enough for your partner.
The child’s fear of abandonment prompts them to look to the extent of a helpless partner and assign him the role of a child, and to “be responsible for his life” (a guy with big problems will definitely not give up, as his mother did). So many are vaccinated against the pain of being abandoned. Yes, some mothers doom children to care that makes them addicted and helpless. But we also act out this scenario, trying to control the life of a partner or assigning him the role of his leader.
In childhood, we are ready for any tricks for the sake of parental attention. But in adulthood, these manipulations look much less innocent. For example, a girl can call her boyfriend for nothing a hundred times a day. And if he expresses dissatisfaction with such an obsession, she launches tantrums, accusations, pretended helplessness. The guy reacts depending on what scenario he learned in a relationship with his mother: trying to please her, step back or resent even more.
Requirements of absolute love (“I should be loved and accepted by anyone, not demanding anything in return”) also speak of a “hole” in an early relationship. The only person who is really capable of loving you anybody is mom (but even this is not easy for mothers). Partner is not required. Accepting this truth makes it easier to deal with denials and objections.
I ran a cold
Not everyone is afraid of parting and being alone. There are those who are called "formed an evading type of attachment." They seem self-sufficient, cold and detached.
In childhood, the child came across the inaccessibility of the mother when he needed her. Usually these are women who are hated by bodily contact with a child, they are not sensitive to offspring, are ready to intervene and repel at the same time. The child gradually formed the image of a rejecting and unloving mother. Fearing not to find support, the child learned to cope on his own and not show his feelings. And in order to protect himself from his mother, he chose a restrained manner of behavior and denial of all feelings for her.
Usually “avoidants” are less involved in relationships than their partners. Faced with a problem, they can belittle its importance and deny emotions. Rarely they are anxious about separation, even less often are they looking for real deep intimacy and intimacy. They tend to avoid conflicts. If the “avoidant” feels that the marriage is bursting at the seams, he is more likely to break off relations than to clarify the situation. The second is worse for him. People narcissistic warehouse often build relationships according to the type described above. They are proud of their independence. Self-esteem strives upward. But their love resembles a contract.
Attachment is not synonymous with addiction. Maternal attention and care require inclusion in the emotional life of the child with the simultaneous ability to support his initiative and independence (according to age-related needs). All the same is true in the personal lives of adults. Healthy attachment is the ability to be near without losing one's own autonomy.
Those who have formed a reliable attachment openly talk about their feelings, are able to build emotionally warm relationships, and seem less conflict. So, people who have formed an alarming type of attachment often enter into squabbles, they are irritable and unstable. They seek approval, but they themselves do not understand what they want: to rule, to maintain neutrality or to submit (often alternately). And the “avoidants” are often suspicious and want to subjugate, if the latter is impossible, they “freeze” the quarrel without clarification. Those who have formed a reliable type of attachment (able to take into account the opinion of another without losing their interests) are trying to resolve disputes so that everyone is the winner. Most will say that they want to see this very “reliable” partner. But there is a snag. Most likely, those who are ripe for true intimacy are not interested in the “love game,” like the all-knowing father and little girl or the great martyr and loser.