Have you ever had the experience of being completely preoccupied with thoughts of a partner or date to the point that you can’t think about anything else?
Do you ever feel panicked after a date, wondering if you’ll get a text?
Do you sometimes pull away from a partner in dramatic ways (trying to make them jealous or chase after you) even though you secretly want them to chase you?
Or do have a sneaking suspicion that you sabotage relationships just when they start to get close?
Do you seem to attract people who get too clingy and it drives you away?
Do you always date emotionally unavailable partners who won’t commit?
If you said yes to any of these, it’s likely that your Love Style is to blame.
What’s a Love Style?
Your Love Style is based on something called attachment, which is a psychological concept that describes the bond between a child and a primary caregiver (birth parent or other caregiver) in the first few years of life. This interaction creates the foundation for how we interact in our adult relationships.
Your Love Style is a crucial framework for understanding adult relationships and dating.
To simplify this psychological concept of attachment, I’ve created four main Love Styles: Love Connectors, Love Resisters, Love Stabilizers, and Love Paralyzers. Each are based on the psychological models of the attachment styles.
To help you understand each Love Style, I’m going to give you a common dating scenario and show you how each Love Style might react.
Here’s the scenario:
You’ve been dating someone new, and it seems to be going well. However, your date hasn’t texted you in 24 hours. Here are some common reactions from each Love Style:
Love Connector: You’re in panic mode by this point, wondering if he’s cheating on you, leaving you, or disinterested. You feel obsessed with thoughts about it, and can’t get out of the bad mood that has accompanied your panicked thinking. As soon as he texts you, you’ll likely wait awhile to respond instead of responding immediately.
Love Stabilizer: You may be wondering where she is, but generally have a sense of trust that there is a good reason for her not texting. After all, things have been going well between you. You send a text and say, hey, how are you?
Love Resister: You may not even notice that he hasn’t texted in 24 hours! Or, you may even feel relief to have some breathing room. You may be online setting up another date.
Love Paralyzer: You don’t even relate to this question, because you haven’t been on a date in years. You are likely wishing you had a relationship, but the thought of it is so vulnerable and terrifying that you avoid dating altogether.
Does any of this sound familiar? Here’s some more background on the Love Styles.
The Love Stabilizer is based on what’s called a secure attachment, which is formed when there is a warm, secure, and consistent relationship with a caregiver as a child. Securely attached adults tend to be more comfortable with relationships, intimacy, commitment. You give partners the benefit of the doubt, because you have had the experience of a trusting, loving relationship. You are comfortable with depending on your partner, and with your partner depending on you. Relationships don’t cause a lot of stress for you.
The Love Resister is based on the avoidant attachment style, and is formed when your caregiver doesn’t give a lot of warmth, consistency, or nurturing as a child. You learn that it isn’t safe to depend on others, so you keep your distance. Intimacy and close relationships can make you uncomfortable, and feel like they are a threat to your independence.
The Love Connector is based on the anxious attachment style, and is formed when there is inconsistent love and attention from a caregiver. One minute there is nurturing, the next minute you may be crying and being ignored by your caregiver. This leaves a child feeling anxious and wondering when the next dose of attention will come around. As an adult, you tend to crave closeness and reassurance from your partners, and will become highly anxious with any indications of your partner’s distancing. You are highly sensitive to your partner’s actions.
The Love Paralyzer is based on the anxious-avoidant attachment style, which is formed when a caregiver is consistently rejecting of a child. The caregiver may criticize a child for expressing emotion or pain, or encourage a child to be independent before they are ready. As an adult, you may feel like you don’t deserve love, and it is difficult to trust others. You may fear relationships, and take your time to become involved. When you do get attached to a partner, you may become overly dependent and fear separation. You may avoid conflict and intimacy.
When you know your Love Style, you can be aware of why you crave or resist intimate relationships. You can figure out what makes you tick. You can identify the perfect Love Style that you need in a partner. You can manage dating and relationships with awareness and confidence because you understand how your brain is looking for love.
Research has shown that these styles remain fairly consistent into adulthood. However, the good news is that with awareness and therapy, people can make changes in their primary style.
If you want to learn more, stay tuned. This is the first article in a series that will describe each attachment style in more detail, with strategies to help you understand your pattern in dating and relationships.