Perhaps you’ve been with a guy like this.
He wants to spend time with you—sometimes.
He says how much he loves you—sometimes.
He makes future plans with you—sometimes.
Other times, he isn’t there at all.
He doesn’t call. He doesn’t text.
He drops off the face of the planet.
You get the feeling that he only wants to be with you when he feels like it…
Not when you need him.
Your guy might be suffering from a lack of attachment.
What Is Attachment?
Attachment is a key component of lasting love.
Compared to passion and intimacy, attachment takes time to build.
You can feel instant attraction towards someone.
It might take you a little longer before you feel safe sharing your deepest self with him.
But it will take you some time before you feel attached to this person.
Attachment has a very specific scientific meaning.
The attachment system in the brain was designed to keep children and their caretakers close.
Young children wouldn’t survive unless they had an innate drive to remain physically and emotionally close to their caretakers.
Their survival also depends on their caretakers feeling similarly attached to them.
Attachment is one of our earliest and most powerful needs.
We need to feel close and connected to our person, whether that’s a parent or romantic partner.
No wonder it feels so frightening when you’re deeply attached to someone who doesn’t seem equally attached to you.
Let’s look at four ways you can build greater attachment in your relationship.
4 Components of Attachment
There are four components of attachment:
- Secure base.
When something happens and you need help, who do you call? The person you know you can always rely on for anything is your secure base.
- Safe haven.
When you’re upset and you need support, who do you call? The person who always makes you feel better and never tells you you’re crazy is your safe haven.
Who can’t you go more than a few days without talking to? Proximity-seeking refers to the need for regular contact with someone.
- Separation protest.
Who do you need to have in your life so badly that you feel anxious or upset when you’re apart? That discomfort is separation protest.
Now, some of you might be thinking…
“Wait a second! My guy wasn’t the first person I thought of in some of these cases. I always call my sister for help. When I need support I call my mom.”
That’s perfectly normal.
We can be attached to multiple people.
Many of us are have strong attachments to a sibling, a parent, and/or a best friend.
That’s a good thing. It means we have more resources to draw on when we’re in need.
The question I’d like to pose to you is this:
Do you know how your guy would answer these questions?
4 Ways to Build Attachment
Who does your guy call on when something goes haywire in his life?
When your guy is feeling upset, who does he talk to?
Who does your guy spend time with on a regular basis?
Is there anyone in his life he needs to see regularly or else he gets cranky?
Chances are, those people you just named are his attachment figures. They’re the people he needs to have in his life to feel supported.
Are you first on the list?
If your relationship is young, you may not be. That’s okay. It takes time to build attachment.
He needs to trust you, feel safe with you, and have many positive experiences of relying on you.
He needs to have faith that you will be there tomorrow. He can allow himself to get used to relying on you, because you’re not going anywhere.
That can be a challenge for some men. They want to live in the moment. They want to compartmentalize their relationship as a place where they have fun, not a place where they dump their problems.
If your man has a strong bond with a best friend or a brother, it may take even more time before he’s willing to bring his problems to you rather than the person he’s relied on for so many years.
You can reinforce his attachment circuitry by:
- Being reliable.
The quickest way to kill attachment is by being unreliable. Don’t play hard to get, and don’t punish him by withdrawing. Reliability doesn’t require you to be there for him 24/7, but it does require consistency.
- Bringing your calm problem-solving brain to your conversations.
When a man mentions his problems, you might assume he wants empathy, but not all men do. Sometimes men just want someone neutral they can bounce ideas off from. Learn how he wants to be supported.
- Giving him positive experiences of regular contact.
Touch bases with him regularly, even if he doesn’t always reply. An easy way to do this is by sending him a warm, affectionate text every few days. [If you’d like help with that, here’s a LINK TO MY TEXT MESSAGE GENERATOR]
- Allowing him to miss you.
If you are always available to him, even when it’s inconvenient for you, he never gets the chance to experience separation protest. So don’t worry about him when you’re out with your girlfriends or at a work function. Take the time you need. Then enjoy how good it feels to see each other again.