I have never thought of attachment theory in terms of adults actually. I think that children "need" adults to form bonds with and learn from or with... in order to become independent. They need to achieve their independence before going out into the world to make other connections with that knowledge that they are responsible for themselves... they do this by first connecting with the adults around them... I breast fed my son for three years to give him a good foundation for him to be able to be independent. I think far too often we push kids out into the world to be independent before they are ready. Holding them close when they "need" it is important to them becoming self sufficient. I can totally see how that would work with loving adults. We are, by our very nature, interdependent to others, the planet as a whole. That is where the depth comes in our relationships.
Some adults were pushed into independence too early as children and can regain that "need" for closeness again in their adult lives in order to take steps to independence more healthily rather than be pushed into it. Kind of a stepping back exercise.
I was breast fed as a child for a few months and then my mum went into the hospital for a few months. I was given to a neighbor who let me cry and cry and cry. I cried myself to sleep and cried with my bottle in my hands... why? because I NEEDED MY MOTHER. Now look where it has got me. I have a terrible relationship with my mum and believe I wouldn't if I had that need fulfilled as a child. It is the root to all my abandonment issues. I "need" people to help me believe I won't be abandoned.
I don't see any reason why we should believe we are not responsible for others. Participating in/with others lives and self journeys. I work with adults at my job that will never reach complete independence but it's up to me to ensure that they have freedom, together with my support, in order to work toward their independence. I do this with everyone I am close to.
My partners rely on me to walk by their side when it comes to their struggle to be independent/self actualized/self aware/confident/self esteem... (all go hand in hand it seems). I feel I would be doing them a disservice if I simply said and thought they should do it all alone because they are suppose to be independent. They know that I will hold them close when they "need" that as a way of working stuff through.
For example: we rent out an apartment in our basement. My husband has a hard time dealing with people when he is seen as an authority (remarkably he is very good at it and has been in management often as a result...) and because I know that he often "needs" me to take over where the tenants are concerned so as to help him not be overwhelmed ... that means I simply make myself available when he says he is struggling and asks for help or asks me to take over.
This is something he works on, so to step in and just take it over would not be helpful to the work he is putting into himself. When he does put the effort in and it IS overwhelming he has been known to break down in my arms and sob from the sheer emotion of it all. I see no problem in holding him and loving him and talking to him with loving words like "you should feel very proud of yourself, you did really well at that." I do the same thing with my child and others. This to me is attachment theory in practice. He "needs" me to help him through stuff in order to gain independence for himself.
I have seen this work with him as I have known him for 14 years and remember a time when he was a complete introvert and terrified of interacting with others. He had a partner who he allowed to have complete control over him. They were completely co-dependent in terms of her "needing" to control him to make herself feel good and he to allow that to not have to deal with his issues.
I feel proud that he "needed" me to walk by his side and hand control back to him when he gave it over to easily... to rely on me to take it when he was overwhelmed. It's a fine balance. I have been there for him all these years and he with me when I needed to know he wouldn't leave no matter what. It's what gives our relationship depth. Could he of done it on his own? probably. Could he of done that with someone else? probably. Did he want to need ME? and trust ME? yes. I think that in terms of unhealthy "needing" is when one thinks that it is that person ONLY that is "needed," not loving, caring, patient, empathetic people in general that we can chose or not chose
We need each other to rely on in terms of having safe space to break down, be completely vulnerable and ourselves in order to be able to go out into the world and work on our issues and baggage. This is "needing" others to me. I "need" others to have that kind of connection with. I "need" Mono to pet my head when I drift off to sleep after a long day... could I do without it? sure! I can fall asleep with out his head pets. I could fall asleep with someone else petting my head possibly. Can my husband deal with our tenants without being able to come to me and sob because it has been overwhelming? sure he can and does... the thing is that it is easier and we get through things better when we rely on each other for that support. We have chosen each other to do that with... their could of been others we chose and may still be others, but right now this is who we have chosen to "need."
I know some people who don't have anyone to "need" and they carry tons of baggage around that I doubt they will ever have the chance to work on because they feel they would in some way not be independent if they admitted or realized they "needed" help with it. Sometimes they just don't know how to "need" others too. I find THAT more unhealthy than my "need" for snuggling up to Mono and getting my head pet so I know he loves me and won't leave.
Getting my head pet takes me back to a place of the innocent "need" I had as a child and my dad pet my head. I feel in those moments that the slate is clean, there is a sense of untangledness. I feel like I am worthy of love and won't be left behind. I like to give that space to people I love and I like to have the opportunity to be in it myself... I'm sorry, I feel no negativity in terms of unhealthiness in that.
as an aside: I find this sense of "need" sometimes in terms of BDSM, I find I offer that same feeling of... whatever that is...when I dominate others or am dominated. Things become untangled, raw, the slate is clean... does that make sense? It's controlled control.
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