How do Insecure Attachment and mindfulness interrelate?
To have Insecure Attachment means that we fall into ‘fixed reactive habit patterns’. We enact an old emotional memory/prediction in a way that is not responsive to the present moment. This is in contradistinction to having the capacity to ‘respond’ adaptively based on how things currently are. This is a central feature of Insecure Attachment.
One benefit of mindfulness is that we have a bit more consciousness and lead time to consider the situation that we are in and respond instead of just reacting.
I can report based on my own case and the cases of meditation students and Attachment Repair clients that high levels of mindfulness and insecure attachment can coexist in the same person. However, the person with Insecure Attachment who has also trained in mindfulness can catch the pattern and can choose not to indulge it in a way that is not possible for the person who hasn’t trained that skill. So, I’d expect that this translates into the more mindful students being able to stay ‘responsive’ and not fall into reactive insecure patterns in sexual situations. This study seems to roughly support this claim.
How do you deal with a partner with an Insecure Attachment style?
Two things come up for me here: allow yourself to see things as they are. Validate how your partner’s Insecure Attachment diminishes the quality of the relationship at times. Validate how it’s irritating and make space to grieve it. Also, reflect on how your partner’s attachment conditioning isn’t their fault. Moreover, reflect on the suffering that it causes them. If you want to take it to the next level, do compassion meditation like “Tong Len” towards them.
So, to sum it up: make space for your and their suffering, acknowledging how messy life is. Also, remember that if you are in a relationship with an insecure partner then it’s very likely you have Insecure Attachment as well.
How can both partners establish mindfulness in their partnership?
First off: mindfulness is a skill that can be trained. That’s good news! So, I’d recommend that both partners start a 10 to 20 min daily meditation practice, preferably together.
Here, I’ll add that meditation helps to correct the metacognitive (the ability to self monitor, etc) deficits which are usually seen in people with Insecure Attachment. However, improving the metacognitive skills does not fix the core of Insecure Attachment. The core of Insecure Attachment (and Secure Attachment for that matter) is the “internal working model of attachment” which is made up of unconscious expectations of self/others/world/
In the case of people with Insecure Attachment they often expect abandonment, abuse, social isolation, rejection, deprivation of attunement and empathy, and little support for their explorations from their romantic partner.
The most important piece of work in attachment repair is emotional memory reconsolidation of those negative beliefs/expectations. Mindfulness helps you see the belief but does little in the way of fixing it.
Also consider learning, as couple or alone, the Imago Technique for attuned and collaborative communication. Here is a brief article on it.
I would add that most people aren’t aware that healing attachment is possible as an adult. It’s totally possible. But it takes work and dedication. Ideal Parent Figure Protocol was designed to heal early attachment wounding. Likewise the work we do at Attachment Repair is entirely focused on healing early attachment insecurity and guiding people on the path of Secure Attachment.
Here is a good beginner’s meditation for those wanting to work towards earned secure attachment:
Also here are some attachment quizzes that also help assessing one’s own attachment style: