Anchors, Islands or Waves6/22/2012
What's your relationship style?
I am currently enjoying a book entitled Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner's Brain Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build A Secure Relationship. It was written by Stan Tatkin, a clinical psychologist who works with couples in resolving conflict and saving marriages and relationships. This book tells us that every person is wired for love differently, with different needs, habits and reactions to conflict but given the proper information on how to "wire" with our partners, one may understand the complex dynamics in building trust and love, thus sustaining a blissful romantic relationship. Overall, it can be insider's guide to understanding your and your partner's brain, and promoting love and trust within a romantic relationship.
I am still halfway in finishing this book but the first three chapters have already given me insights that can be applied on my current relationship. One thing that fascinates me is the chapter on relationship styles, which tells us that people relate to other people differently and that past experiences greatly influence how we relate to these people. In this book, relationship styles are lightly described as anchors, islands or waves.
The anchors are people who are deemed securely attached in their relationships. Before they are even in a relationship, they are already secured as individuals. They are willing to commit and fully share with one another, and adapt easily to the needs of the moment. People who are anchors take good care of themselves and their relationships and they are very good in coping with relationship challenges.
People who are islands often confuse independence and autonomy with their adaptation to neglect. They also tend to be overly sensitive to perceive intrusions by a partner. Islands are unlikely to understand who they are, recognize their deep-seated existential loneliness or ultimately overcome their anxiety over intimate relationships. Islands tend to be a do-it-myself kind of people and are often considered emotionally distant from their partners.
The waves are people who are ambivalent in relating to other people. They are similar to ocean waves - always going up and down, up and down- thus the term. Other people can be compared to a shore, and waves come rushing in, only to immediately rush back out again. Waves can't make up their mind where they belong, and often times, they feel secure in a relationship, and another minute, they don't. They are also often preoccupied by fear, anger and ambivalence about being close.
This part of the book not only allows you to become familiar with your partner's relationship style but most importantly, it makes you become aware of how you relate to your partner and inspires you to take steps in innovating yourself to build a better romantic relationship. I honestly admit that I consider myself a wave and I realized that somehow it's not good at being one because as a wave, you allow yourself to be hindered by your fears and worries, thus limiting your capability to provide a sense of affection and security to your partner. Letting go of what causes these fears and personal insecurities which happened in the past can be a big help of making a wave transformed into being an anchor and even though it will take time, putting in effort (and your partner's effort will be a big help too) will lead you to become an anchor.
So, which relationship style are you?