ATTACHMENT THEORY EXPLAINED WHY I SUCK AT RELATIONSHIPS

Learning attachment theory helped me understand why my relationships weren’t working. Turns out, we’re all pretty predictable (based on our attachment style).

I have a dirty dating secret: I’ve been single for 2.5 years, and for some reason, I’ve been the one to walk away in nearly every single dating interaction I’ve had in that time span. I felt like I was always the one sending the text saying “it’s been nice, but I can’t/don’t want to do this.”

In every serious relationship I’ve been in, I’ve been the one to drive it into the ground at the end (with a healthy dose of self-sabotage) then call it quits.

I would be fine being single for a while, but then the craving for connection and touch would come back. The shit thing is, once I got it I immediately wanted to run. I always had intense fear when things started getting even slightly more serious, even though nothing had seemingly changed.  One minute I’d be happy cuddling with someone and telling them my secrets, then they’d walk out of my apartment and I’d start spiraling and thinking I was better off alone. I was giving myself romantic whiplash.

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Why was I like this?

I always wanted to be in a successful relationship, but I couldn’t break the pattern no matter how awesome the person was and how much potential was there. I felt ashamed I was like this. Even after I quit drinking nothing changed.

No advice seemed to help and no self-improvement work I did seemed to change the oucomes. I couldn’t chalk it up to not meeting the right people because even when I met someone and started to get to know them I didn’t know how to manage my feelings or express my needs. It got easy to put it on other people, but after I stopped drinking I knew deep down that I had some real work to do.

I had just finished telling my therapist about the guy I had ended things with who had the AUDACITY to call me “hot and cold,” when my therapist gave me some homework. She knows I love a good self-help book, so she tasked me with reading Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller.

Since she’s smart, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say she suggested the book because I seemed ready for a healthy dose of humility and self-awareness around how I am in relationships. At that time, I had recently become aware codependency was an issue for me, but I didn’t know I was about to find out that I am also part of 1% of people that fall into the most troubled attachment style.

Turns out, my whole ‘come here, go away’ act makes a lot of sense based on my attachment type.

Basically, there are four attachment types: secure, anxious, avoidant and disorganized/dismissive.

Here’s a really basic breakdown of all four that I pulled from this website (if you want more info). 

Secure: Low on avoidance, low on anxiety. Comfortable with intimacy; not worried about rejection or preoccupied with the relationship. “It is easy for me to get close to others, and I am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I don’t worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me.” 

Avoidant: High on avoidance, low on anxiety. Uncomfortable with closeness and primarily values independence and freedom; not worried about partner’s availability. “I am uncomfortable being close to others. I find it difficult to trust and depend on others and prefer that others do not depend on me. It is very important that I feel independent and self-sufficient. My partner wants me to be more intimate than I am comfortable being.”

Anxious: Low on avoidance, high on anxiety. Crave closeness and intimacy, very insecure about the relationship. “I want to be extremely emotionally close (merge) with others, but others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my partner doesn’t love or value me and will abandon me. My inordinate need for closeness scares people away.”

Anxious and Avoidant: High on avoidance, high on anxiety. Uncomfortable with intimacy, and worried about partner’s commitment and love. “I am uncomfortable getting close to others, and find it difficult to trust and depend on them. I worry I will be hurt if I get close to my partner.”

About 56 per cent of people in the world are secure. Around 20 per cent are anxious. Twenty-three per cent are avoidant, and the remaining 1 per cent are a combination of anxious and avoidant (according to this article by Elite Daily).

I don’t know about you, but I always wished I had a rare blood type so I could feel special. Turns out since I’m fearfully/avoidantly attached, also referred to as disorganized or anxious-avoidant, so I can still feel statistically special based on the fact that I absolutely run my relationships into the ground as soon as they seem like they’re going somewhere. Or as Mark Manson puts it, this attachment style is “the worst of both worlds.”

Thanks, Mark. You know how to humble us one percenters.

Excuse my french, but this revelation sacré blew my fucking mind. First of all, I wasn’t the only one who was like me. Second, it made me feel less alone to know that a little less than half the population is gonna ride the struggle bus when it comes to relationships because of something they learned in infancy.

Last: I was relieved to have a label and explanation.

A fearful-avoidant type both desires close relationships and finds it difficult to be truly open to intimacy with others out of fear of rejection and loss, since that is what he or she have received from their caregivers. Instead of the dismissive’s defense mechanism of going it alone and covering up feelings of need for others by developing high self-esteem, the fearful-avoidant subconsciously believe there is something unacceptable about them that makes anyone who knows them deeply more likely to reject or betray them, so they will find reasons to relieve this fear by distancing anyone who gets too close. As with the dismissive, the fearful-avoidant will have difficulty understanding the emotional lives of others, and empathy, while present, is not very strong—thus there will be poor communication of feelings with his partner.

I always had thought I was just a mess romantically because….well just because I had baggage and trauma. But then why was I still single after I stopped hating myself?

To add to the slap in the face attachment theory served it, apparently, if you put certain attachment styles together it’s more or less destined to be a hot garbage fire. Like for example, avoidant people and anxious people are like magnets to each other romantically but it makes for a problematic partnership. It’s shit, because it’s really not the fault of either people, but more a perfect storm based on their desire for intimacy and tolerance for closeness in relationships.

Since I’ve found out what attachment style I am, it’s helped me come to peace with my patterns and start challenging them with clear communication and different thought processes. It’s also helped me pick people who are better for me (*cough* where all the securely attached men at? *cough cough*). I’m shedding the shame when it comes to my dating dirty secret because I now see my behavior when it comes to men as a totally subconscious protection mechanism. I learned it before I even knew I learned it, and I can also unlearn it. I finally have some hope that romantically, I’m not going to keep reliving groundhog day of the same dating scenarios. I have a shot at being secure.

Like with everything else related to self-improvement, awareness is the first step.

As one writer for Elite Daily puts it: “none of these attachment styles are labeled ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy.’ They’re simply descriptions of the way you act in romantic relationships. They’re not forms of judgment.”

Unless you’re Mark Manson, then you can be a judgmental asshole, apparently.

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If you’re looking for a more detailed crash course in attachment theory that includes more actionable steps to take to becoming secure, your best bet is to read this book or this book. Yes, reading a self-help book to fix your love life is probably going to feel like a move pulled directly out of a rom com, but once you get over yourself it’s really not that bad. For more basic info, you can also watch this video or pay a little bit of coin to take a quiz to see what category you fall into. 

11 PIECES OF SEX AND DATING WISDOM I LEARNED IN MY EARLY 20s

Dick pics, consent, condoms, exes, self-objectification and love. Love in the age of millennials.

I have enough exes that they could all get together and make a ska band. I used to be embarrassed about it, but now I know it just means I know better now, so I can do better. I feel like I’ve experienced it all: getting dumped and having my heart broken, dumping someone, having blowout arguments, being used, trying to have casual sex, getting played out, being an unsupportive significant other, being called horrible things — you name it, I’ve probably lived it and learned from it.

Taking a step back from dating for last little while has given me a new perspective on certain things and reminded me of others. Millennials are reinventing everything as a generation, including dating. In some ways it’s amazing because we have more ways to meet people than ever before, but all those avenues of communication can make us less connected than ever before.

Buckle up. If you are related to me, please, for the love of god don’t read this.

Mature themes and swearing ahead, kids.


1. Just because someone uses you doesn’t make it ok for you to use someone else.

Sometimes when we are hurt we do dumb things because we feel like causing pain will cancel out our pain. Meanwhile, it only makes things SO MUCH WORSE. Nobody wins when you act out of spite, especially not you.

For example, maybe he used you (emotionally, physically) and now you wanna get a baseball bat out and go to town on him like Beyoncé in the Lemonade film but you don’t want to reveal your rage and fulfill the “crazy woman” stereotype so you internalize it and take it out on some other unsuspecting guy you find at a bar or on Tinder. *deep breath*

A short-term self-esteem bandaid (in whatever form) won’t cover the gaping flesh wound this person left you with. That’ll only heal with time, my friend.

2. Stop playing the game of “who can care less about the other person”

Whoever can come away more untouched and unfazed from a one night stand or rejection is supposedly the “winner” of this game people play now.

Casual sex culture is scary because it can harden us and makes us think that it’s wrong to have feelings. If we don’t want to play the game, we can be harshly judged or cast out. Sometimes we end up participating even when we know it hurts us. I thought about things completely differently after watching Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution, and I still believe that adults are completely allowed to conduct themselves however they want — but this whole “I don’t have to show you any respect or treat you as a human” thing is just horrible.

The executive director of the documentary said this in an interview for Bundle Magazine and I think it applies to both genders:

“We live in a world where people wear very scant bikinis just to sell us burgers. And whether we like that or not, we are constantly surrounded by those images. We may be guarding our eyes, but we cannot escape them in culture. We might not be conscious of it, but when we pass a billboard, look at a magazine or turn on the TV, we are being primed to that kind of imagery. That commodifies a human being. It makes them an object. And as soon as we objectify someone, it’s a lot easier disrespect them. Or to not see them for the extraordinary creation that they are.”

— Sarah-Jane Murray

3. When it comes to anything in the bedroom — ask. Never assume. 

I can’t believe I have to say this but y’all would be downright SHOCKED at the number of conversations I’ve had with other women where guys will go to do something in the bedroom without any prior warning or consent and it turns out it’s something their partner isn’t into. In 2018.

ARGUABLY! THE! YEAR! OF! FUCKING! CONSENT!!!!

GO FIGURE SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO BE WARNED BEFORE ANAL SEX.

If you are scared to communicate or ask someone before you do something that doesn’t mean you get to just DO IT. If you don’t know someone well and you assume they are down to do something – that doesn’t mean you get to just DO IT.

This behaviour isn’t gendered by the way. I’m aware that trust, non-verbal communication and being under the influence all play a role in the quality of communications taking place.

People try to argue it isn’t sexy to stop and ask something in the heat of the moment but I really don’t know what’s sexier than safe and consensual intercourse with someone who respects you???

Honestly, Amber Rose said it best when she was on a talk show:

“If I’m laying down with a man — butt-naked — and his condom is on, and I say, ‘You know what? No. I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no. That means f-ing no. That’s it. It doesn’t matter how far I take it or what I have on, when I say no, it means no.”

Amber Rose No GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

4. Always talk about testing even if it makes you uncomfortable.

Yeah sex is cool but some STIs and STDs can be undetectable friends. I was lucky enough to have a brother who volunteered at Nine Circles educating people about safe sex practices for a long time so I learned a lot — but mostly he told me that most sexually active adults really don’t have the right facts about this stuff.

If you can’t talk about testing you shouldn’t be having sex. Period.

Ask “when was the last time you were tested?” then go from there. It’s specific, direct and doesn’t pry into past partners.

5. Don’t shit talk your ex. 

No matter how it ended, it ain’t worth it. It reflects more poorly on you than it does your ex. Also, they don’t deserve that.

6. A smiling selfie is way cuter than a picture of your penis.

I know what you’re thinking: “Raegan, does that really need to be explicitly stated?”

YES. IT DOES. BECAUSE PEOPLE ACT LIKE BARN ANIMALS.

ALSO, INSTAGRAM AND SNAPCHAT EGGED ON THE FUCKBOIS BY MAKING IT SO THAT YOU CAN SEND PHOTOS THAT DISAPPEAR FOREVER.

There are people who like dick pics. They exist, and you may have met one. But there are also many women who don’t.

7. Don’t string someone along just because you want attention. 

I’ve done this in the past — I’ll fully wear it. I’m no saint. But thinking about how my action made the other person feel snapped me out of it. Are we really so used to be stimulated that we can’t stand to go unacknowledged for one night? You can’t outrun that fear forever.

I get that it’s easy to avoid ever feeling lonely with dating apps, DMs and Snapchat BUT dating and messaging people shouldn’t be a hobby. If you are only texting someone every Friday night, shut your phone off and go to bed fam. They don’t deserve to be used like that, and you’ve gotta consider taking up a healthier hobby. Like knitting.

 

8. Do believe that you deserve love.

I can’t believe how much of my life I wasted believing I didn’t deserve love. How much I believed that I was just lucky someone wanted me. How much I would turn into a puddle of shitty self-esteem when someone even remotely cool, attractive or interesting would pay attention to me. How I would just assume how it was a matter of time before that person found out too much and RAN because apparently I was such a monster???

Imposter syndrome is a bitch.

Speaking from experience, don’t waste another minute thinking that. If you’re lucky enough to find love, know that it walked into your life because you deserve it. If you can find it in your heart to accept yourself, you’re gonna give off this bright shiny light that’s gonna pull in some winners. If you haven’t found someone, love yourself like your life depends on it (as Jen Sincero says at the end of every chapter of ‘You are a Badass’).

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Which one drives you?

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9. Life is too damn short to not have great sex because you are worrying about how you look.

When people self-objectify it can actually lead to sexual dysfunction…amongst other issues. Translation: the more you see yourself as a sex object, the less fun you tend to have during sex. Sad but true.

We’ve all felt lackluster about our self image at one time or another (or always, for some people), but it can sideline you from sex for a LONG time if you let it. That breaks my heart. But we gotta stop being so afraid of not looking perfect and embrace imperfect pleasure.

We don’t get much for free in this life other than orgasms and library books so make the most of both if you can.

Also:

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10. If you ghost someone, you deserve to run into them looking like a potato. The universe is gonna take their side on this one.

There’s a way to be polite, direct and kind. Find that way. Use it. Next time, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask how you want to be treated.

*Mutual ghosting is the ONLY exception to this rule.

11. Put your damn phone away when you are spending time with someone.

Nothing says modern romance on like sitting across the table from someone watching them text someone else who isn’t part of the present moment. Not face up on the table, not face down on the table, not in your pocket with vibrate on, not in sight…

A

W

A

Y.


Love people. Use things.

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HOW I’M REPLACING SERIAL MONOGAMY WITH SELF-LOVE

After too many relationships in a row, I decided to stop dating for a year as a new years resolution. Then I talked about it on national radio. (Originally posted Jan. 2018)

Did I ever, in a million years, think I would be writing a piece like this for the internet to read?

Hell to the NO. Hard no. Absolutely not.

I do my best to be vulnerable when I write blog posts. I believe the most relatable and real writing is a byproduct of having the courage to be seen in an authentic way.

With that being said, that doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. While my words seem confident on the screen, that doesn’t mean my hands don’t shake when I write them. Fear still crashes over me in waves, I just try not to let it carry me away.

But nothing could have prepared me for the vulnerability hangover I had after my interview on CBC’s Now or Never.

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Ify Chiwetelu! And me! At CBC Manitoba! AM I DREAMING?!

Let’s rewind to January 1, 2018.

I wrote down a bunch SMART goals for 2018 in my journal, but there were really only two that stuck out to me as resolutions:

  1. Do as much dangerous stuff as humanly possible (too bad I can’t go BASE jumping in Winnipeg).
  2. Don’t date.

The first resolution I shared with people who asked me if I had any resolutions because I thought it was funny. The second one I only shared with a few friends and family, and when I did, I got a lot of mixed reactions which made me nervous.

I never had the intention of getting on a national radio show and telling my story, but here I am. Telling you to listen to my interview with the amazing Ify Chiwetelu, still absolutely terrified.

//www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=1157120067599

My BFF (who is a producer at CBC), told Trevor and Ify about my blog and my resolution. My immediate reaction was heck ya! Cool! This is an opportunity to be vulnerable in a new format!

Then the dread set in.

I know from experience that if there’s something people have strong opinions about — it’s dating. And love. And sex. It’s also something I’ve historically had a lot of trouble with. For me, there’s generally been a lot of pain, struggle and embarrassment around the topic.

A lot of, “what kind of person can’t be alone for longer than four months?”

As much as the interview is about abstaining from dating, to me, the entire resolution is really about what I’m choosing to do with this opportunity to be alone.

To be clear, I have no regrets about anything that has happened up until this point. I’m just taking stock of where I stand and deciding where I want to go from here.

I have no hard and fast rules around this whole thing (other than staying off dating apps) and that really seems to bother people. Rules, and labels, are often created or used so others can feel more comfortable. For once in my life, I’ve given myself full permission to not give a flying fudge about what anyone thinks about this particular adventure I’m embarking on.

Everyone’s gotta make decisions based on where they’re at and what they’ve gone through — I’m just doing me. Please don’t leave comments describing hypothetical situations asking what I’d do. First of all, my mom has probably already asked. Second, I’ll say the same thing I said to her: “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”

When it comes to dating and how I see myself, I’ve carried enough shame in my life to sink a ship. That shit is heavy. I’m ready to put it down.

You can read the blog post I wrote for the CBC blog  here.


I don’t really know how to end this, so I’ll just say that this song says it all.

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