50: Wired for Dating and Love - Psychobiology with Stan Tatkin 2 years ago

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How does your attachment style affect your dating life? When you know your attachment style, and that of your partner, how can you use that knowledge to make your relationship stronger? How do you know when it’s time to commit? In today’s episode, we’re talking with Stan Tatkin, author of “Wired for Dating” and “Wired for Love” - and one of the world’s leading experts on how to use attachment theory for the betterment of your love life. This is Stan’s second appearance on Relationship Alive, and we use the opportunity to dive even more deeply into his work and how you can put it to use whether you’re single or...er, attached. Waves, Islands, and Anchors. These terms describe researched relational and attachments styles. They are constructs that help give metaphor and meaning to ways in which an individual relates to others as a result of early childhood experiences. Our early familial patterns change and shape our autonomic nervous systems, and thus, the way that we engage with those around us. When it comes to depending on another we each have different ways we feel in our body, minds, our memory, and in our bones. Anchors: Those who are anchors experienced secure attachments. They were raised in a reliable environment where relationships came first, where their needs were attended to, and there was no sense of either being left or being taken over. This infant develops with the intrinsic and extrinsic knowing that it is free and able to grow and learn independence without consequence. Island and Waves: Unlike anchors, islands and waves were raised in an environment where relationship did not come first, and from a very young age they had to adapt themselves to their environment in order to get their needs met. Both islands and waves want relationship, although they both struggle with trust. Waves tend to hold a core belief that they are going to be abandoned, and so they are less independent and often cling to others. Islands, however, hold the core belief that if they depend on another their independence will be taken away, and they will feel robbed and trapped, thus causing them to be ultra distant and quick to quit. Patterns not labels. These terms are not meant to pigeon-hole, but rather help describe the psychobiological response to insecure childhood experiences. These patterned responses are also not static- we can adapt, change, and heal. And although relationships are the places in which insecurely attached individuals may struggle the most, relationships also offer incredibly healing potential! Each partner must be willing to get to know their own wiring, and then get curious and learn to understand their partner’s wiring. From an understanding of your own and your partner’s psychobiological needs, you begin to move away from distressing conflict, towards collaboration, compassion, and ultimately, to building a securely attached relationship. Attachment is fluid- we are hurt by people and healed by people. The only way out of insecurity is through a relationship! You have to do it with another person! Fully resource each other! Creating a secure relationship takes a commitment to being in the foxhole together. Create a culture together in which you watch out for each other- where you are working collaboratively and mutually. Make your own 10 commandments, and include expectations such as: We pay attention to each other We are present with each other as much as we can be We never throw each other under the bus We do not keep secrets or hide We never threaten the relationship or each other Safety in a relationship is a cultivated state- requiring constant input and attention. That said, the energy you each invest in limiting the stress load and the threats, will create the space and stability needed for resilience, flourishing, and healthy development! Navigating insecurity while dating: As you enter the dating scene, it is incredibly valuable to learn about your own neurobiological wiring. What was your infancy and early childhood experience? How did your primary caregivers show (or not show) love? How were your needs met or not met? And how have you showed up in relationships so far? Are you trusting? Fear independence? Fear abandonment? On top of an awareness of how your own experience has shaped your reactions to relationship, it is helpful to also examine how cultural, familial, or personal ideals of relationship are impacting you. What expired values and expectations of relationship are you still holding on to that are no longer serving you? All of this questioning helps build a foundation for successful dating that allows you to be your authentic self and find a person who matches not your fears, but your desires. So many people do not do this inner searching, and end up simply heading out on a hunt for the ‘perfect person’, rather than for someone who matches their own sense of what a relationship is, and the shared we-ness of it all. Don’t just trust your...