Are you walking away when you argue with your wife?
This may have to do with your attachment style, which is something we’re not taught about, but affects how we show up within a relationship.
There are 3 attachment styles: Anxious, Secure, and Avoidant. Be aware of your attachment style because it can affect how you interact with your partner.
In this episode, you’ll learn how to determine your attachment style so you can change your approach.
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Tim: Hello, everybody, welcome to another episode of the TPM show. I am your host, Tim Matthews. Unfortunately, my co-host, Mr. Dougie Fresh is not today. Like I said in the last episode, if he is your favorite, please stick with me. Who knows, maybe we can convert you by the end. What I want to talk to you about in this episode, guys, is something that’s a hidden mechanic that is at play in every relationship, but is often either unconscious or unheard of. And until you become aware of this thing, what can often happen is, you guys can just sometimes miss one another. It’s almost like you could be talking different languages. You could be talking English, and she’s Chinese, and vice versa, and you just miss each other despite how much you love and care for one another.
Now, depending on where your relationship is at right now, what I’m about to share with you may help you to get things to become closer, let’s say that communication is flowing and open. But if for some reason communication has closed down, then this may give you some insight as to why communication has fallen down in the past, as maybe mud has appeared on the glass. Ae talk a lot in the AM about the scales, kind of like the Justice scales in your relationship. In the beginning, when you guys first got together, the positive experiences far outweighed the negative.
Hormones were at play, newness, excitement, a lot of things happening in those early days that led to you guys having a really close, intimate connection. But over time, as complacency sometimes sets in, we can stop doing some of the things we used to do. And mud can appear on the glass. If you were to imagine a piece of glass between you and your partner. Every time that something goes unsaid or unheard and resentment builds and frustrations are felt but not addressed, it’s almost like you’re flicking a little piece of glass. And over time, before you know it, you just can’t see the other person sitting there. Still there. They are still as amazing as they were in the beginning, but your vision of them is colored and influenced. And if either of you two were to leave their relationship, the chances are that somebody else would get the best of them.
I don’t know how familiar you are with attachment styles. There’s a lot of great work that has been done in this field by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, I want to give those guys shout outs and kudos, because this is something that has helped me a hell of a lot, me and Amelia, and a lot of the men in the movement as well. Amelia is my partner, for those of you that don’t know. And it’s really helpful to become aware of the type of attachment style you are. Because depending on how you attach to people, or how you respond to confrontation, depending on your attachment style that will dictate how you act within a relationship.
So essentially, there are three attachment styles you have: anxious, secure, and avoidant. Now anxious is basically the attachment style that is worried about love being taken away, and doesn’t often know when love will return. So, as a result, they become anxious in the relationship. And I’ll explain a little bit more and go into the dynamics of these different types in a moment. Secure is the one that we are all striving to be. Once you become aware of your dominant attachment type, you can then do the work on yourself. That’s the good news here. Although it’s an unconscious dynamic at play that can create arguments and distance, it can also create a lot of closeness and connection once you understand the game that’s going on, and the rules of the game and how to play it.
And in doing so, typically you’re going to move from being anxious to secure, or avoidant to secure. So, anxious is an attachment style that is basically anxious, aware or afraid of what love will return. And then the avoidant attachment type is the one that basically self-soothes, Right? Get into an argument, and that one will walk away and want to spend time on its own, whereas the anxious one gets into an argument and they want to fix it. So, when the avoidant walks away, the anxious one will typically walk after them, which to the avoidant annoys them. They need space. But space to the anxious leads to doubts and worries and fears. Are they going to come back? Should I go upstairs and fix it? Should I just apologize on my side of the street? And as a result what you can do if you’re not aware of this, and let’s say you’re the anxious and the other person is the avoidant, it can have you feel rather insecure in a relationship. It can have you then start to become a bit needy, and desperate, and apologizing for things that you really may not want to apologize for, but you just feel this unconscious urge to heal the bridge. If you’re avoidant, you may then start to feel suffocated by the anxious attachment type’s advances.
There are some things you can look for in the relationship to decipher what attachment style you are. Now there’s an amazing book called Attached, which I’m just referencing here, can’t really see it. If you’re on YouTube, you will be able to have a look at that. But this is on Audible. So, you can get this book. It’s a very easy read. It’s an awesome informative read as well.
So anyway, the golden rules for deciphering the attachment styles. So basically, the first thing you want to look at to determine whether you’re an anxious one, or your partner is avoidant, or whatever it may be, is to determine whether or not the other person seeks intimacy and closeness. Like I just said a moment ago, the anxious attachment type will seek intimacy and closeness, the avoidant basically will not. The anxious will find it easy to talk about their feelings, the avoidant, typically, will not.
Second thing is to assess how preoccupied the other person is with the relationship and how sensitive they are with rejection. The anxious attachment type will typically think a lot, or worry a lot about the relationship and not take rejection very well. The avoidant will typically push away the thoughts and feelings about the relationship and won’t really respond a great deal to rejection. I’ll go and self-soothe, I don’t need you.
Third thing to look for when you are wanting to understand the attachment type is, make sure you don’t look at one sign or symptom, look at the pattern of behavior. It sounds obvious, but as we are going through these six rules, essentially, look for a pattern. The fourth one is to assess their reaction to effective communication. The anxious attachment type will basically welcome the communication as an opportunity for greater intimacy. The avoidant will feel uncomfortable with the communication and essentially respond in the following ways: you’re too sensitive, demanding or needy. I don’t want to talk about it, stop analyzing everything. What do you want from me? I didn’t do anything wrong. Jesus, I said I was sorry. There are different ways that the avoidant will handle that to try and get out of communicating about their emotions.
So funny, because I used to be the anxious and when I am triggered, anxious still rears its head. I definitely have some traits of avoidant but a dominant one as a trigger would be anxious. I’ve done a lot of work to try and make it secure. It’s a journey that I’m always gonna be on, no doubt. And Amelia is avoidant. She has some traits of the anxious, but predominantly she would be the avoidant. And that’s typically how it works, because you are not going to get two of the same types for the most part in a relationship, because they tend to push each other away. It’s a yin and a yang.
Now, the fifth thing you can look up is listen and look for what they’re not saying or doing. So, here are some examples of the avoidant, the secure, and the anxious. So, the avoidant or send mixed signals. They value their independence greatly, and they devalue you or your previous patterns. They use distancing strategies,emotional or physical. They emphasize boundaries in the relationship and they have an unrealistic romantic view of how the relationship should be. They have rigid views of the relationship and uncompromising rules, and they don’t make their intentions clear.
The anxious, on the other hand, wants a lot of closeness in the relationship, expresses insecurities and worries about rejection, and they are unhappy when they’re not in a relationship, has a difficulty explaining what’s bothering them, acts out, has a hard time not making things about themselves, and they let other people set the tone of the relationship. They’re often preoccupied with the relationship as well. Now, secure, on the other hand, which is the promised land that we’re all wanting to get towards, is reliable and consistent, makes decisions with the other person, has a flexible view of relationships, communicates relationship issues well, they reach compromise during arguments, not afraid of commitment or dependency, and doesn’t view the relationship as hard work. Closeness creates further closeness, introduces friends and family early on, naturally expresses feelings, and then doesn’t play games.
Now, the golden rules for understanding where you’re at or your partner is to determine whether or not you’re the person seeks intimacy. Assess how preoccupied the other person is in a relationship and how sensitive they are with rejection. And make sure you don’t rely on one symptom, but look for various signs, assess their reaction to effective communication and listen and look for what they’re not saying or doing. I’m going to read you a couple of examples from this book of a couple of scenarios, and I want you to guess what attachment style is person is and see if you can figure it out.
So, first one. Barry is divorced and 46. Relationship, I don’t want to hear about it now. I’m still licking the wounds from my divorce. I want to make up for the time that I was married. I want to feel that women desire me. I want lots of sex. I know how to be careful, though, because every woman that I go out with immediately starts to fantasize about what kind of father I’ll be to her kids and how our last names will stand together. I’ve been dating someone for almost a year now. Her name is Caitlin. She’s great in every way. I know she would love for us to become more serious, but it will take me a long time before I’m ready to trust another woman to commit and love. But even then, I know exactly what I don’t want, and I’m not willing to compromise on it.
What type do you think that person is? That person is avoidant. Okay. Now, that you’ve probably figured that one out, this one is Bella, she’s single, and she’s 24. Mark and I have been dating for a year and a half. We’re very happy together. Don’t get me wrong; everything wasn’t perfect. From day one, there were several things that bothered me about Mark at first. One example is that when we met, Mark was inexperienced sexually, and to be quite honest, I had to literally coach him in bed. I wasn’t going to live the rest of my life sexually frustrated. But that’s ancient history. Also, I’m much wilder than he is. Mark is serious, down-to-earth, and in fact, at first I thought it was too geeky for me to date. But I couldn’t have made a better choice. Mark is warm and dependable. qualities that are priceless. I love him to bits. Let’s see the answer to that one in a minute.
And the final one is Janet, who’s also single and 23. I finally met a great guy, a really great guy. Tim and I have been out together twice. I already feel myself falling in love. It’s so hard to find someone I’m compatible with. I’m only attracted to a certain type of man. And then, what are the chances he’ll also find me attractive? The odds are against me on this one. So now that I’ve met him, I want to make sure I do everything right. I can’t afford to make any mistakes. One wrong move and I could jeopardize the entire relationship. I’m waiting for him to set the pace because I don’t want to seem too eager. Perhaps a text message would be okay. That might seem laid back and spontaneous, don’t you think? Or maybe I’ll forward him some funny emails as part of a distribution list.
So Bella, the one I just said a moment ago, is she avoidant, anxious or secure? So, Bella is secure. And Janet is anxious. Hopefully, as I’m describing these attachment types to you, you are seeing yourself in one of them. If you’re secure, well done. Come over here and teach me. If you’re unsure, there is a quiz you can actually do in this book, which is a really good quiz. Amelia and I did it, we learned a lot about one another. And it’s a great thing to do.
Now, the thing is, once you become aware of what attachment type you are, you can then modify your approach in your relationship. Right. You can also make light of it. You can make it fun. For example, Amelia and I were talking today, and she didn’t want to open up. And it was funny because I just kept asking her questions, and she kept trying to give me small answers. So, in that moment, because I’m aware of my attachment type and she is of hers as well, we could both laugh. Right? And it’s so funny. You can see who’s avoidant and who’s anxious right now. We both laughed. What did that do? It broke the ice key. She then opened up, because she became aware of a pattern of hers that she was falling into. Right? Dougie Fresh always says, does it happen more than once? If it does, it’s a pattern. Does this pattern serve me?
Typically, unconscious attachment types are not going to serve you and they’re not going to serve the other person, especially when you are considering, maybe in the dating phase, or you’re wanting to actually repair the relationship. It’s one of the key components to you being aware of whether you’re going to push someone away, or also set up unconscious rules in a relationship that create a dynamic of codependence, which is a tough one to break, when you’re in it. it’s going to take two people, it’s going to take both of you to become aware of the attachment type, and then be willing to do the work to fix it.
Now, we have seen a lot of men in the movement become aware of their attachment types, and use that knowledge to inform them of how better to handle arguments and conflict when it comes up. Do they give their wife space – avoidant – or do they want to reassure their wife – anxious – while still being able to create space for themselves? That might go something like, Hey, Amelia, I love you, you’re important to me, I’m going to be back in a couple of hours, I just need some space. That’s how an avoidant could communicate to an anxious, it would be a secure way of communicating, quite frankly. But if the other person isn’t aware of these things, they’re not willing to do the work, then if you communicate in that way, they feel seen, they feel heard, and you also get what you want as well. Equally, if you know somebody needs space, you can say, hey, look, I know you need space right now, so I’m going to leave you to it, and I’m going to be back in an hour, whatever it may be,
So I’m gonna leave this episode there. It’s a short one. Like I said, the book is called Attached. It’s one of my favorite books on the subject. And once you become aware of this, it makes using the HMT so much easier. For those of you that don’t know, the HMT is one of the tools that we give the men in the AM. It forms part of the triad of connection, which is the Live As A King System, the HMT, and the CSM, specifically teaching married business owners how to fix their marriage without having to talk about it. So the more you inform yourself about things like this, understand the field of play that you’re operating on, it makes everything else, be it polarity, communication, validation, so much easier. So, thank you for joining me today, guys. If you have any questions, by all means, head over to the Facebook group. Or, if you’re in our private community over at Workplace, by all means, reach out to me there, happy to answer questions. And until next time, have an amazing day. In the moment of insight, as Mr. Dougie Fresh likes to say,take massive action.