From very early on in life, we seek someone we can attach to, who understands us, cares for us, loves us, and gives us a sense of safety and belonging. We look to attach to someone who will be there when times turn rough, and most importantly, who shares our dreams for a happy future, for a life with or without children, and for a life with fun and excitement.

Attachment is considered inborn into the matrix of our mammalian brain to assure the survival of human beings. It’s impossible for us NOT to attach. If we don’t have anybody to attach to, we will get unhappy or even ill.

It therefore makes sense that the most stressful event in any person’s life is the loss of a loved one, whether this loss occurs through sickness, separation, divorce, or death. The grief for having the attachment bond broken and for being left behind is enormous. This is often expressed by feelings of depression, anger, frustration, sadness, hurt, despair, guilt, and shame for having failed.

Most people protect themselves heavily against these painful feelings. The way they do protect themselves is by numbing themselves, withdrawing, eating, drinking, working, or exercising excessively. Thus when attachment bonds such as marriage, friendship, or other close relationships get distressed and come under threat, a myriad of conflicting emotions may be experienced.

It is crucial for the partners in such a relationship to address their ‘discomfort’ immediately to ensure that their bond stays secure. If that does not happen, or relationship issues are only partly addressed and not resolved, a ‘savings account of grudge’ is opened, from which both parties take drawings during subsequent conflicts.

Although most people long for love and a partner that gives them a sense of belonging, safety, and purpose, it is surprising how many people confess how much they protect themselves from love. The fear most mentioned is the fear of being rejected, abandoned, ridiculed, hurt, or exploited. Many people are afraid to put themselves into a position of vulnerability and closely protect their hearts. The Fear of love can even be so dominant that people convincingly tell themselves that they don’t need love.

Because we are hard-wired to connect with others, to form social connections, and be part of social networks, longing for and simultaneously being afraid of love is a dilemma commonly faced by people. Thus people need help not only when they are weighed down by grief or adversity, but also when they encounter love. Some relationships go through years of destructive cycles of criticizing, complaining, attacking, violence, defensiveness, and distancing, as well as stonewalling, withholding, and avoidance. Often one partner feels that he/she is right and fosters the fantasy that everything would be resolved “if only the partner would see things my way”.

However, a relationship based on “my way” is a dictatorship and as such, is doomed to fail. Relationships can only work by developing “our way”, and both partners have to work hard on achieving this. Developing “our way” and having a successful relationship has to be based connecting rather than on being right.

Author's Bio: 

Gudrun Frerichs, PhD is the director and founder of Psychological Resolutions Ltd. Visit her website for information about counselling, coaching, psychotherapy, and training courses for professional and personal development. You will find relationship solutions through advanced communication skills. Instead of learning "communication by numbers" you will be taken on a step by step journey to emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, understanding others, and managing others).

Are you struggling with communication in your relationships and would you like to learn about proven and effective steps to a successful navigating your relationship?

You are now able to put your hands on my book “STAYING IN LOVE” that will give you the tools to achieve just that. It is a practical, hands-on book that gives you step by step techniques to improve your relationships. The 10 steps are jam-packed with information and exercises that help you get your struggling relationships back on track. Click here for a sneak pre-view.