In a nutshell, attachment theory describes the emotional bonds felt between people. It can be broken into different categories, but the most often described are 1) Secure 2) Anxious 3) Avoidant and 4) Ambivalent.
If you're curious what you are, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I loveable?
2. Can I trust you?
Secure attachment: Yes, I am loveable. Yes I trust you. This is the ultimate goal.
Avoidant attachment: Yes, I am loveable. No, I can't trust you. I would say these are more likely to be the kind that are video gaming, numbing out, drugs, always connected to a device. The underfunctioners. Fear immobilizes them.
Anxious attachment: No, I'm not loveable. Yes, I can trust you. These are the people who believe they can only be loved once they achieve/perform. The overfunctioners.
Ambivalent attachment: No, I'm not loveable. No, I can't trust you. This most often emerges in those who have a history of trauma. They want you close, but once you get close, they push you away.
I noticed that after I started working at BYU, I would often find myself on social media- more than ever before. I'd gone from working with 90% women and talking about kids, dating, recipes, life etc. to working mostly alone in my office and was surrounded by colleagues in a different stage of life. Going to lunch now meant that we were going to schedule in another hour of work during lunch instead of going to lunch to hear the latest dating stories and talk about our parenting woes and triumphs. Additionally, most evenings my husband was now gone so I'm usually at work or with my kids. And no longer living in a townhouse community meant I actually had to set up play dates and try for other connection with moms. It's been a bit hard on me. I was craving some more connection. Social media provides some diminished form of connection, but not quite the real thing. There is just something about adult connection that I miss. Nevertheless, I find myself on social media quite often.
This lecture that I watched really hit me. He proposed that the biggest threat to our relationships right now is technology. I've read the articles about how technology can get in the way of parent-child relationships and seen the pictures.
What message do we want to send our kids? How available are we to them? How responsive are we to their needs? How emotionally engaged and present are we when they want us?
I'm trying this year to put my phone down when I get home from work and spend more quality time with my kids. Trying to not just turn on PBS when we first wake up in the morning and actually be present with them. And, most importantly, trying to teach my kids to better emotionally regulate. There are some recent studies that suggest that more use of technology in kids is highly correlated with sensory disorders, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. I've been guilty of handing my kids a tablet or turning on a show to get them to stop fighting instead of actually helping them work through it. Kids are not regulating as well as they used to. And my guess is parents are doing the same thing. When I'm stressed and want to unwind, I will often go to mindless social media and scroll away. Not the best thing to do. And it may work a bit, but connection would be the better solution.
Have you seen this commercial?
I know I need to do better with my own emotional regulation and I'm hoping to. How often do you find yourself connected to technology instead of a human? How are you emotionally regulating? There's some great research done by a woman I went through grad school with that examined couples' use of texting in relationships. They found that when texting was used to express love, affection and even reminders of tasks it could build relational satisfactory. However, using texts to apologize, criticize and argue actually hurt relationships and caused more insecurity in couples.
Some teenagers and young adults today are so emotionally stunted and can hardly come talk to the professor after class and look them in the eye, let alone have an emotionally intense conversation or attempt vulnerability in a relationship. I know I'm not the only one who's been in a room of people and we're all on our own electronic device not actually talking to each other or only talking about the things we're reading on the news, seeing in social media. I'm a bit worried about the newest generations where technology has been around since their birth, but only time will tell.
"The solution for more connection will never be more screen time."