You meet and you like each other physically and mentally very much. You then decide to make a commitment to each other but somehow deep down you feel unsure, not totally trusting and these feelings make you behave in odd ways. And this behaviour is all down to your mother. Research by John Bowlby has shown that how we attach to our lovers in our adult life is all about how we attached with our mothers (or other primary caregiver) after birth.

If your mum looked into your eyes as a baby and provided physical and emotional care, where you felt safe, then you will be imprinted with a secure attachment style. As an adult you will then trust your lover with your emotions and physical care and copy that secure attachment style. It is great being around these people as they are always extending love and trust. Lucky them, lucky us.

On the other hand if you did not obtain secure physical and emotional needs from your mum, you will develop an avoidant attachment style. You will not completely trust your emotional attachment to your lover, or others, because inside you are not truly confident that you can expose yourself safely.

John Bowlby looked at various attachment styles and one classic one is the anxious-avoidant type. Usually this develops due to your mum being good to you one moment and not the next so you become confused whether you are right or wrong in your adult emotional state.  And being anxious with lovers or others socially is not pleasant.

If you find you have insecurities with your adult relationships it is more than likely you are responding from your unconscious imprinted attachment style. If you feel very attached to your lovers you are the lucky ones with good mums. But if you are not a lucky one, as an adult you can do something about your attachment style.

By talking to a therapist you will gain knowledge of why you behave the way you do. You will then become consciously aware and not unconsciously unaware. It is very empowering to become aware of your imprinted attachment style. Once this happens you can then do exercises to correct your attachment style.

Psychopaths have dreadful attachment styles due to all the cold prickles experienced as children. Work alcoholics have learnt that they cannot trust others for emotional security so they seek concrete success to prove they are worthy people. They too probably received cold prickles during childhood. Those that have had happy childhoods received lots of warm fuzzies and they love and trust the world.

What this means for adult lovers is that it might not be your partners fault that you find it difficult to attach to them. It might be because your mum did not look into your eyes as a baby or provide you with emotional and physical needs before you were aged three. But rest assured you can do something about it now to change or challenge your present attachment style. Take care.

Gerry North is a gay couples counsellor and can be contacted at [email protected] or www.gaycounselling.vpweb.com.au

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