How Nailing your P.D.A. Style Can Make Your Relationship Betterby Walker James Loetscher on March 21, 2012
To some, that couple dry-humping in the corner of the bar/middle of the dancefloor/on a park bench are a menace to society, perhaps guilty of public indecency and certainly in violation of good taste. To others, they represent a beatific vision: “Who are we to pass judgment on the case of two lovers caught in the throes of a rapturous moment?”
You’ve probably had this argument with a significant other at some point, and you are not alone. Opposites do attract – especially when the opposition stems from differing opinions on the place of physical affection (or lack thereof) in a relationship.
Related: Dealbreaker: He Had Low Self-Esteem
Emotionally “giving” types are drawn to emotionally “reserved” types because they “like to elicit affection from someone who doesn’t express it easily.” Reserved types reciprocate this attraction because beyond the surface, most of them like to be drawn out. Hugged. Held. Kissed. But we all know such bliss is often fleeting.
By and by the giver becomes needy, the reserved type aloof. Must it spell the end? Most certainly not, according to Dr. Amir Levine, psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Columbia University and co-author of the book Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love. Levine postulates that all people belong to one of three distinct “attachment styles.” A heightened awareness of our own styles, as well as those of our partners, can inspire greater harmony, or even bring a tense situation back from the proverbial brink.
More than half of the population identify with the secure attachment style. Secure types are characterized by a warm disposition and a comfortable relationship with intimacy. They represent most of the public hand-holders and lip-lockers of the world.
The anxious attachment style is likewise populated by emotional givers — another 20% of us. Unlike secure types, anxious types often worry that their partners’ feelings are not as enduring as their own, that betrayal could await them around every corner.
Emotionally reserved lovers tend to belong to the remaining group: that of the avoidant attachment style (25%). Avoidant types often associate intimacy with a loss of autonomy. Levine speculates that their qualms with displays of affection often derive from their backgrounds. A number of social and psychological experiments performed in the last half-century indicate that attachment is a basic human need, and that children who don’t receive adequate affection fail to develop the same capacity for intimacy as their more well coddled and cuddled brethren.
Related: The Breakup Tipping Point
Does this mean that avoiders should only couple with avoiders, anxious types with anxious types, and so on? No. Rather, partners should openly discuss their emotional needs to agree on a happy medium. Attachment styles are flexible, and emotional harmony often lies somewhere between the ideals of each party. Compromise — long a buzzword in relationship therapy — should be the goal, but it’s only a realistic one if both partners are ready and willing to pursue it.