Breaking Free from Labels: Navigating Relationships Without Attachment Styles

Breaking Free from Labels: Navigating Relationships Without Attachment Styles breaking free from labels: navigating relationships without attachment styles
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

One thing we often love doing, especially when we start self-educating or learning about psychological jargon, is wanting to classify our partners or our friends. One of the main culprits for this is attachment styles. You may classify yourself and your partner as having an anxious-preoccupied attachment, or dismissive-avoidant, or fearful-avoidant, and really operate from these labels. Another thing that comes into play is that we may use these labels as a way of hiding what’s really going on in the relationship.

You may be in an abusive relationship, and you’re being manipulated, but because you’ve taken an attachment style quiz online, you find yourself defending your partner or your relationship based on their attachment style. One thing that is like a rubber stamp or with which we’ve been conditioned is keeping the relationship as a measure of a successful life or a successful relationship.

In fact, when we meet a couple and ask how long they’ve been together, and then they mention a large number, we’re impressed, but we don’t really know what’s been happening behind the scenes. But that’s a story for another day; today, we’d like to discuss how to know if your partner is abusive or if they are simply acting out because of their attachment style.

I came across this question on Quora where someone was asking about the difference between dismissive-avoidant and covert narcissist. Do both of them gaslight their partners, or can neither of them admit/notice their faults?

It’s a great question that cannot simply be answered by explaining the difference between dismissive-avoidant and covert narcissist but by considering where you are or where the questioner stands. We have the desire to cling onto what we have because of the feeling of investment we’ve had in those things. So, when you’re in an abusive relationship or any kind of relationship, you will scour the internet for evidence of your partner not being ‘fully’ abusive because you can’t imagine throwing away the 40 years or more you’ve built in the relationship.

You’ve built your life around the relationship, and society is there with you, reinforcing the idea that you need to be together until death do you part. So, you will look for solutions within the relationship. It’s like looking for freedom within a prison; you will, of course, have limited solutions to your problems. This doesn’t mean that leaving the relationship is the ultimate solution, but it’s better to just leave it open or to open yourself to infinite possibilities.

When we really want to preserve the ‘we’ in the relationship or that shared identity, it influences the solutions to our problems. That’s why it should be ‘me then we’ and not the other way around. So, analyzing if your partner is a full narcissist or just a selfish jerk cuts you out of the equation.

What you need to ask yourself on a daily basis are things like, am I growing in this relationship? Do I know how I deserve to be treated? Can I express my feelings? Do I feel safe in this relationship? Do I know my boundaries or when they’re being overstepped? And then the ultimate question is, am I analyzing my partner to escape from the truth that I am afraid of losing the relationship or from seeing the relationship for what it is?

When you know and understand yourself, you won’t spend time analyzing other people or even your partner. You will express yourself in the relationship and understand if your partner is receptive or not. When you’re curious about whether your partner is this or that, look inward and be honest with yourself. You may find that you need to do some inner work to reach the point of understanding that all along, you need to first have a healthy relationship with yourself. Don’t use labels as a shield from seeing the truth of what’s really happening in the relationship.

One issue with labels is that they may prevent you from resolving simple issues and building the relationship, keeping you in a toxic relationship for a longer period. You might come up with excuses such as, ‘My partner doesn’t like expressing their feelings, and they avoid discussing their issues because they’re dismissive-avoidant,’ but does that solve the problem? It simply becomes a convenient way or a great alibi to avoid dealing with the root causes.

As I mentioned in the past, attachment styles are symptoms of past experiences, and you can never be solely defined by them. Instead of focusing on preserving the relationship, consider whether you’re willing to work on breaking free from those attachment styles. This approach is better than using them as shields from the truth of what’s really happening in the relationship.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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