In my Psych 101 class freshman year of college we learned about attachment theory and I see it pop up every couple of months in cultural and psychologically slanted articles about the state of affairs in relationships. The theory, in its most basic form, is how you attached to your caregivers as a child affects your behavior and feelings in adult relationships.
Originally the researchers were only looking at it in terms of childhood development, but in the late 80’s folks began to see similarities in adult relationship styles. If you were insecurely attached to your mother, for example, you’d be more likely to display similar characteristics in your romantic relationships.
There are four main types identified in adults:
The bottom 3 are all categorized as “insecure attachment” and I — lucky me — am a couple of those: fearful-avoidant in general and romantically and dismissive-avoidant with my mother and closest friends (according to this really cool test).
“People who are fearfully avoidant in their relationships are uncomfortable depending on others and serving as an attachment figure. Moreover, they worry that others may not be there emotionally when they are most needed.” Dismissive-avoidant types “… are also not comfortable opening up to others and depending on or having others depend on them. In addition, they are not concerned with the question of whether the other person truly cares about them.”
This understanding about myself isn’t new, but it is important because it explains my total hyperventilation when men I date don’t show up in the myriad of ways one might not show up: ignoring texts, not following up after sex, being vague about plans, commitment, their feelings, etc. Dating is a hot bed of psychological torture for the insecurely attached among us. We can’t handle it and it all amounts to fear of abandonment and the push-pull dilemma of going for it or pretending we don’t care.
Enter D/s into my life. A place where I get to dictate the rules of engagement to control for my inabilities to trust others and my ambivalence to try and I feel a little calmer about things. Apparently I am also way more devastated when things go sideways, but for a brief period of time I feel goooood. And it’s worth the experience in general because I get to feel safe for a change.
Things with the Not liberal Liberal Sub have waned significantly since his visit. I have stopped texting him because I have nothing to say. He must be feeling similarly, though he did pop a text my way yesterday wishing me a happy day.
It’s just a matter of time before we alert one another to our feelings for one another. “It was lovely meeting you. I had a great time. I don’t think we should pursue anything romantic or otherwise kinky together. I’d be down for a glass of wine in London, though, if you’re around.”
So now it’s February and my self-assigned January Man Ban is over with and I’m talking to a sexy 39 yo vanilla guy that I kinda dig with ever-changing facial hair, random hot guys who aren’t really worth my time, and staring down at all my insecure attachment trappings thinking, “I got my eye on you, assholes.”
A couple of years ago I realized the benefits of applying the high standards of my D/s life to my vanilla one. As a D-type I take less shit, I may even be slightly more securely attached, and after this last experience with a demanding and less-than-self-aware sub I feel even more armed to identify behaviors and character traits I don’t want. Insecure-attachment style or not.
If what I really and truly want is a fulfilling partnership replete with kinky sex and tender love then only I can choose for that. My attachment style is the gauntlet, my will my armor. Let’s see how I do.
[Ed. Note: If you’d like to read more about attachment theory, read this.]