By: Erica Djossa
I am sure that you would consider yourself a rational and sane person. Well, most days. Have you ever wondered how you can go from a normal rational person to a relationshipzilla in about 60 seconds flat? Relationshipzilla is loosely defined as that monster that rears its head anytime we feel our relationship is in jeopardy. More clinically defined, it is the attachment system that gets activated in our brain when we feel that our partner is not emotionally or physically present or available to us.
Don’t judge. I know it’s not just me. It’s okay to admit that you have been there too.
It all started back at birth when our brains developed this mechanism called an attachment system. This system is in charge of monitoring and tracking the emotional and physical availability of our partner in our relationship. First it monitored our attachment to our parents, and as we grow it monitors the
availability of our romantic partner. When our attachment to our partner is in jeopardy, we result to behaviours that either try to activate attachment (reestablish intimacy) or deactivate it (smother intimacy). Different adult attachment styles resort to different behaviours when their attachment system is activated, but we can’t get into all of those details today (check out my blog for more on attachment styles).
Why do shrinks always have to take things back to infancy and childhood? I know we get a bad rep for that but listen, understanding our primal instincts helps us to better understand our emotional reactions and therefore how to tame this monster that we struggle to control.
Here are a few ways that we can keep our relationshipzilla caged:
Know that your relationship needs are legitimate: Your needs are your needs. They are neither right nor wrong. The sooner you accept that these are foundational roots that you require for a lasting relationship, the sooner you will ensure that these needs get met.
Learn to effectively communicate your needs: When you can communicate what you need in order to feel safe and secure in your relationship, your attachment system will activate less often. Don’t ignore your needs or feel as if you are burdening the relationship with them. The reality, is the relationship won’t last unless your needs are getting met.
Be aware of your relationshipzilla thoughts and behaviours: While we may resort to monster like behaviours when our relationship is on the rocks, we can be aware of and change these patterns. With every thought and behaviour in our lives, we can learn to regain control and not let our reactions get the best of us!
The reality is that some days our reactions will get the best of us. We are human after all. But you are only as needy as your unmet need. If relationshipzilla is running rampant in your life, your needs are not getting met. You are the only advocate for your needs; stand up for your self before relationshipzilla is forced to.
Erica Djossa is a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships. She has a Master’s degree in counselling psychology and has spent most of her lifetime observing and learning about various relationship dynamics. As a passionate professional, she works full time in a private practice, writes a relationship blog and is the relationships expert for Rogers Daytime TV’s in Durham Region. She has a desire to educate people on the ways they can improve and strengthen their relationships in order to foster satisfying and lasting connections. Visit her www.the-love-compass.com or connect with her on Twitter and/or Facebook.