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Love Hurts: How to Deal with the Pain That Comes in 6 Different Stages

Love Hurts: How to Deal with the Pain That Comes in 6 Different Stages

How many times have you asked yourself, “What is love exactly?” You’re not the only one to wonder. It’s an age old question that has left many people questioning their romantic relationships and future.

So, what is love? Love is a process: finding a partner, falling in love, and sometimes falling out of love. It isn’t a permanent thing. It’s not something you find and have forever because it never changes. Instead, love is fluid. Its definition changes over time, depending on each couple. Couples who make love last have learned to change together and to support each other’s individuality.

Love is beautiful and sometimes painful.

Just as love is ever-changing, so is the pain it can bring. Pain from love occurs in different stages of a relationship . You’ve probably already experienced some of the various kinds of pain in love. If not, you’ll probably experience them at some point in the future. Let’s take a look at some of the different kinds of pain so you’ll recognize it when it happens to you.

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Love and Pain Come in 6 Different Stages.

1. What is love? Is this love?

Looking for love can be pretty painful. First, there’s the issue of finding love, which means getting over emotional traumas from past relationships. You have to be ready to find love and know what you want before you can go looking for a significant other. You also need to have some idea of what love means to you, which might not be the same idea for everyone.

Once you think you know what you want and you’ve answered, “What is love?”, there’s the pain of figuring out how to ask the other person out on a date.

Just when you work up the courage to ask somebody out, you might be hit with the next great pain: rejection. In this case, what you have to do is learn to cope with unrequited love, or romantic feelings that are not shared. If you get through the date part and the feelings are mutual, now you get to face even more discomfort. You have to figure out if you’re really in love with your partner or just attached to them. If you think what you feel is love, it’s time to show the other person how you feel. Perhaps the most painful part of this stage is deciding how to tell them you love them.

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2. I am definitely falling in love!

The second stage of love and pain is the falling in love part. The pain from this stage comes from the same age-old question: what is love? Except this time, you ask yourself, “Am I falling in love?” You can answer this question by paying attention to your actions. If you catch yourself doing any of the things on this list, you just might be in love.

To avoid some of the pain associated with love, it’s important to understand the science behind love. Remember, these strong feelings are due to the production of certain chemicals in your brain.

If you’ve confirmed that you’re falling in love and you understand the science behind it, congratulations! You can now participate in one of the best parts of being in love: holding hands. Holding hands results in a number of positive benefits for your health.

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3. It’s official, we’re a couple.

The next step in the progression of love is usually that the two of you become a couple. If you’re not sure what step you’re in, start looking for signs that you’re in a committed relationship. Once you’ve determined that you’re officially in a relationship, you have a whole new set of potentially painful concerns. You might start wondering what to do now, how to act, where to go, and how to keep the relationship healthy. First of all, stop thinking so much. If you overanalyze your relationship, you’ll end up frustrated and anxious. Focus on being mature in your relationship to create and maintain happiness.

Much like a business, you need to think of a mission and vision for your relationship. Where do you hope to be in a few years and how can you improve on your relationship every day? To answer some of these questions, it’s important to learn what kind of personality your partner has. Take the time to really understand them. A highly sensitive person has different needs than a grounded and serious person, for example.

4. How did I ever love this person?

At this stage, one of two things can happen. You either continue your relationship forever in the classic “happily ever after” story, or you start questioning the decisions that got you here. “What is love?” you find yourself asking again. “How did I ever love this person?” Well, if you’re a guy, chances are you fell in love with some of the typical qualities that make men fall in love with women. If you’re a woman, you probably hold some of those qualities.

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Looking back on why you fell in love in the first place and questioning everything can be painful. It’s one of the hardest moments you’ll ever go through in your relationship. Look for things that will give you strength as you go through this difficult time.

5. It’s over.

This relationship isn’t everything you thought it would be. With all the pain and effort of trying to make it work, you somehow lost yourself along the way. Now you need to question if it’s time to let go so you can fo cus on loving yourself again.

Once you’ve broken up, you’re left to pick up the pieces of a broken heart. Just because the relationship wasn’t healthy, doesn’t mean it’s easy to get over losing somebody that you once loved. Recovering after a breakup is hard – your entire future is now up in the air. Despite this, you still need to get over it and move on as quickly as possible. Take the time you need to learn the important lessons that come with losing love d ones, listen to all the saddest songs when you want to cry, and then move on with your life.

6. I’m single again.

Now that you’ve gotten over the breakup, you’re back out in the single world again. This can be fun or it can be painful if you start to feel lonely. Just focus on how to love yourself and look for the motivation to appreciate yourself. Embrace this moment in your lif e and true love will come when you’re ready.

Featured photo credit: Can Anh Khai via pexels.com

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Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Published on July 13, 2018

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

What is attachment theory?

Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

How attachment develops

Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

Different types of attachments

In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

  • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
  • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
  • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
  • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

What attachments mean to adults

So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

  • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
  • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
  • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
  • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

Here’s where it gets really interesting:

Move towards secure attachment

The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

How to restructure your thoughts

Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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For the Avoidant Style

As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

For the Anxious Style

For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

For the Secure Style

Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

Strive towards Secure Attachment

As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

  • Positive self esteem and self image
  • Close and well adjusted relationships
  • Sense of security in self and the world
  • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
  • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
  • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
  • Trust in self and others
  • Close, intimate relationships
  • Strong determination and problem solving skills

If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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