So we reached the 6th episode in the relationship advice series.
In the previous podcast and video, we talked about triggers now let’s get practical and see how you can identify your own and your partners attachment needs.
Look at an example.
Lucy is angry with her partner Matt because he has been absent physically and emotionally in the last few months.
When he comes home from work, he is always tired and just wants to watch TV or chat with his friends in another room.
Lucy wants some attention but doesn’t express this initially, as she feels Matt is tired and stressed, and she does not want to add to this.
But over months her resentment is building and she is getting tired of it.
One day Matt comes home and Lucy snaps and attack him.
“Matt you are so selfish, it’s all about you. You are tired every day and never help me with anything.
I am not your housewife just here to serve your dinner and then have sex. You can make your own dinner.” and Lucy storms out of the house.
Matt is standing there confused.
This goes on for months until Matt starts to stay out late after work, as he does not want to come home and be attacked.
While Lucy begins attacking more and more as she feels more desperate and alone.
Eventually Matt and Lucy break up and go their separate ways.
This is not an uncommon story and it could all easily have been prevented.
What caused the disconnect could have been used to bring them closer together.
So, what went wrong?
Before we answer that question let’s look at the experience from both Matt’s and Lucy’s perspective.
Matt has been working hard so Lucy and Matt can save up to buy their own place.
He has given up a lot of the things he enjoys to do so, like seeing his friends or his hobbies.
He is so tired after 12-hour work days that he just needs to rest and have some space to recharge before the next mad day.
Suddenly out of the blue Lucy attacks him.
His stress levels are already high and he’s feeling exhausted, so low on capacity he feels overwhelmed by Lucy’s “sudden” and unexpected outburst.
So, he retreats to calm down his nervous system.
He’s struggling to manage and just needs a space where there is no demands and stress.
He loves Lucy and is doing all this work for their future and feels unappreciated.
Now let’s look at Lucy’s perspective.
Lucy is also working long hours and she must shop, cook and is looking forward to having some special time with Matt in the evening.
It’s what she’s been looking forward to all day at work.
That’s her time to destress and feel important.
Lucy can see Matt is stressed and so doesn’t want to burden him and therefore doesn’t express her needs.
She starts to feel more and more frustrated as her need for closeness and quality time with Matt is not met, and eventually she can’t contain it and it all comes out at once as she snaps.
Why is she not important?
are her needs not the priority?
As we can see both Matt and Lucy have valid needs and are not doing anything wrong.
They both want to be together hence why Matt is working so hard to get them their house and Lucy is making time for him in the evenings.
So, what really went wrong?
Multiple things caused this to go off track but most of all it was cultural misinformation and lack of awareness.
Women are often brought up learning they must make others feel good and in many instances at the expense of their own needs.
They also learn to supress their own needs if they could upset others.
Therefore, Lucy supresses her needs and as we know supressing our needs eventually leads to resentment the killer of relationships.
What Lucy and so many other women have been taught is simply incorrect and destructive to relationships.
It’s not your job to ensure your partner is never emotional upset.
And if something does upset them you can work through it together and use it as an opportunity to enhance your connection.
Supressing your needs will NEVER lead to a good place because your needs want to be heard.
If suppressed, they can often be expressed in either explosive anger or hidden resentment.
This is far more harmful and hurtful, and it will cause your partner to have a stress response.
They will therefore not be able to hear your needs.
We will deal with this in the needs section, how to sense your needs and express them.
What would have been better was if Lucy could have sensed her need and expressed it when it came up.
This would have allowed them to sit together and Lucy expressing her needs in a way Matt could hear and respond to before Lucy build resentment and express it in anger where Matt could not hear her.
Because of stress Matt lost touch of his own needs and therefore could not manage his own capacity and had no capacity to be present with Lucy.
Matt could learn to become more attuned to his own needs, capacity and boundaries and express them to Lucy and at work so he can be well in himself.
What are Lucy’s attachment needs?
Let’s look at what she said and what her real needs are.
“Matt you are so selfish, it’s all about you.”
Lucy know’ s that Matt is not selfish, he is working like crazy and has given up most of what he enjoys so they can save money to buy a house together.
Because of the resentment Lucy’s is now not accessing her real needs because they are covered up with anger.
What she actually is trying to express is “Matt, I have a need to have more quality time with you because it makes me feel special and feeling special makes me feel secure in our attachment”
You might think, “but how am I supposed to decode what my partner wants?”.
You don’t have to.
It’s their job to stay in touch with their needs and learn to express them without shame.
What you can do is show curiosity and ask questions that help lead them to their real needs and show acceptance when they express their needs.
It’s not your job to give your partner all their needs but it is your job to listen to their needs and show acceptance.
Then Lucy said:
“You are tired every day and never help me with anything.
I am not your housewife just here to serve your dinner and then have sex. You can make your own dinner”
What she is really saying is “I want some of your attention and to feel important and valued. I don’t want to feel used”
In the next podcast and video, we will look at questions you can ask your partner and yourself to get really clear on what their needs are.
See you soon.