219: Stuck on Repeat? Breaking the Cycle of Attachment-Based Conflict (Sort Of)

This episode dives deep into the complexities of attachment styles and their influence on romantic relationships. In talking about our own relationships, we delve into communication difficulties and struggles to connect.

When one partner feels unheard and unseen when trying to express their needs, it can lead to a cycle of blame and resentment. identifying their attachment styles as “avoidant” and “anxious,” can help highlight how these early-formed patterns can significantly impact how individuals connect with others in adulthood.

The conversation delves deeper into the specific ways these attachment styles manifest in their arguments. Unresolved hurts from the past are revealed as a key factor hindering emotional intimacy. While acknowledging the challenges of navigating emotionally charged situations, we also share our use of “couples dialogue” in therapy. This technique emphasizes active listening and validating each other’s feelings, fostering a deeper understanding and potentially creating a foundation for healing.

Through this exploration, we gain valuable insights into how attachment styles can influence communication, emotional connection, and overall relationship dynamics. Remember, this podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. If you’re facing similar challenges in your own relationship, seeking guidance from a licensed mental health professional is highly recommended.

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Transcript:

welcome back it’s recovery sort of the podcast where we explore the struggles of Life the challenges of mental health and recovery and the spaces between we express our personal views on life here and this podcast is not meant to replace medical advice or tell anyone the right way to live this podcast is best used as a place of curiosity and questioning to accompany you on your journey be aware there is strong language this week we’re picking up where we left the conversation off last week here we go

[Music] [Applause] [Music] so okay this is the argument my wife and I have been having um I keep going to her at least this is Jason’s experience let me be fair about it I’m sure it is very different on her side on my side it feels like I keep going and saying hey this thing that’s happening in front of me that you are doing doesn’t feel good for me I don’t feel very good about it right what I mean by that is is there some kind of way we can meet whatever need you’re meeting with that behavior and the need that I’m hoping to get met that is not being met right now at the same time together can we evaluate what it is you’re actually looking to get accomplished in that behavior and maybe manipulate it so that that can get done while also my need gets met that’s what I’m asking for right so I go to my wife and I say hey you’re on your phone I want your attention you’re on your phone she gets mad at me she says you’re judging and criticizing my behavior um you think I’m not good enough and now I need to defend myself and tell you why I’m doing it and that sounds like I’m doing this because over the last 20 years you’ve been this way right and I say okay I understand that but I’m not that way today and I’m asking you to hear me when I say thises thing hurts me and then we end up in an argument and what I was trying to tell her the other day is that argument for me every time is me saying hey what you’re doing right now hurts and her saying yes and I’m allowed to because you used to be bad and I say well that’s cool but I’m here now and I’m not being and you’re still being mean to me and she says yes and I’m allowed to be because you used to be bad and that feels like the whole argument and I don’t know how to contend with that like every time somebody’s defending their actions of why they’re allowed to hurt me that is justifying why that is okay to continue and that’s what she’s doing every time is saying well but I get all riled up because you used to do this or mean this with that action and I’m like well and I understand that but where do we go from here because I keep saying hey that’s not where I’m at today and you keep saying but you were and that’s our whole [  ] argument to the best of the ability I have to see it do you see it differently than that sort of so we have a similar Dynamic slightly different but the similar in that she has some hurts that she has and she says well I’m unwilling to do XY Y and Z being like so I’ll just get a little specific I don’t care she will say like if you want like I need you to be the one to initiate emotional conversations so for us it’s a big thing of like uh she’s an emotional Communicator I’m supposed to be checking in you know how are your feelings what are your thoughts about us about our sex life about our kids about our future all those oh that’s your job kind of conversation so this is nice I like this so she has that’s that’s a need that she has that’s the type of communication that maybe that’s a need I have that I haven’t realized cuz I wish somebody would do it I feel like I do it so well so that’s the problem so that’s a thing that she that’s the way she communicates and connects emotionally and for 15 years of our marriage I’ve been like I don’t want to talk about that [  ] I’d rather talk about politics or sports or whatever the [  ] else interests me the day you know my exercise routine or [  ] what food I’m eating or what diet I’m on and surfacy [  ] stuff you know what I mean like that’s oh and if it’s not that let’s watch some TV and so I don’t communicate in that emotional way she’s also felt like that when she has tried to do that I will sort of either shut those conversations down or not participate enough enough or direct them off somewhere that has everything to do with me and not enough about her yes so that’s the old hurt that she has so now where we’re at is if we’re gonna she still wants to have those conversations but I am the one that needs to initiate them I am the one that needs to do the checking in with her to say hey how are you feeling what’s going on blah blah blah blah blah you know and and engage in that stuff she’s unwilling to do it because it’s an old hurt that she has so I will say well that’s not how I am now I’m way more more willing to engage in those conversations I want to do it but if you’re waiting for that to be my natural inclination it’s probably not going to happen it’s not going to be my natural inclination at the end of the day when I’m tired and it’s 8:00 to be like oh tell me all about your hopes and dreams and blah blah blah blah blah just not where the [  ] I am at the end of the day I’m tired I want to turn on some mindless [  ] TV show stare at the TV for two hours and go to sleep if we get a day where we’re off by ourselves maybe or maybe I’m going to want to tell you about this podcast I just listened to you know so tell me how this feels right this is [  ] so useful by the way because like you don’t

disregulation reaction and just get the response like that’s great my answer to that to my wife because I I I feel like she gives me a similar Vibe different word same idea is why the [  ] does everything but me get the best of you why does work get the energetic awake alert you for 10 hours a [  ] day and I get you know I don’t even have 15 minutes of [  ] connection to give you that’s not enough for me and I’m going to hold you accountable like I deserve better than that and if anything rob it from out there in the world and give it to me I’m the person that’s supposed to matter to most of you in your life what does that feel like so where we struggle with like her and I and this is again this is all stuff I’m trying to get better with so what I’ve talked with her about is like I am so I try to do better at that stuff and and it’s it’s weird so our fight gets to be something like it’ll it’ll we’ll be at the end of the day it’ll be like 7 o’l and I’ll say you know so how’s your day how are you doing you know how’s it going and she’ll get into a little bit about work and then so I’ll talk about work and then we’ll talk about work stuff and then she’ll be like see you just want to talk about work stuff I’m like well I tried to open the door like that was that was my what she would consider like a minimal attempt to try to open the door and I’m like well you’re supposed to [  ] recognize my minimal effort because for me that felt like everything an effort it wasn’t that’s not my natural state so I am trying but you’re speaking [  ] Greek over there and this is me knowing a few basic Greek words trying to speak Greek and so where we’re at now is like we’re trying not to get caught up in the fight part about it you know because again it gets into that fight and then she gets into Old hurt and then I’m like I’ve I’m better I’m doing different now when you talk about these things I am engaging I am looking you know cuz she’ll say ah you’ll [  ] look away way and you roll your eyes and you’ll start yawning and you right right and so now I’m really cognitively like aware okay she’s talking got to look right at her gotta be engaged gotta ask questions you know like I’m really like trying to do it and uh but so she is not healed from that hurt still and even though I want to be like I’m better now you’re supposed to be forgiving me now she’s not forgiving me now so where it gets back to with you it sounds like like like with me I think all right well I’m better now you’re supposed to be over whatever that was because that’s not who I am now and she’s still not to [  ] over it and it doesn’t matter if I think she should be or not she’s not so here here’s where I’m at with it I guess and I’ve never thought about it that way that’s interesting to say that she’s just not over it that’s what I have to think about with Jen like she still has a hurt and again getting back to like as over reactionary and ridiculous as I think it might be it doesn’t matter right right because she’s gota she’s not healed from that until she’s healed from that and just me getting better didn’t make her healed from that so I’m good with that understanding if her my wife and I can both agree to that but we can’t I’d be fine there because what I keep telling her is you don’t need need to [  ] justify or explain why you lashed out quickly at me without thinking I know our 20year history all I need for you to say is I’m sorry what did you need or I give a [  ] I didn’t know you were just bothered you that’s it I don’t need her to like be [  ] perfect or never have an attitude or any of that and I’m not asking for that I’m just asking that when you get shitty with me and I say oh oh hey time out that doesn’t feel like you that we can both agree that it’s not and so far I can’t get that I say that and my partner is still actively nervous system disregulated and bashing me and I cannot deal with that that’s not okay right so for me and and what you’re talking about there this gets back to the other conversation we were having earlier in the previous episode about this is where I had to get okay with this is me and I’m okay with exactly who the [  ] I am and I I can’t I have to be okay with me stop this is for my wife and I like I can’t allow her to keep making me feel like I’m wrong and broken and everything else like I’m okay and this is just me and I’m doing the best that I can to try to be better right um and I want to be better but stop trying to beat me up and make me feel like I’m bad you know that and again whether I’m bad or not it’s irrelevant because once she starts because what would happen with us is you know that they almost there’s a similar pattern of argument that happens over and over again that we get stuck in and she starts with the you know typically it goes something like I feel like you’re just not really engaging with me it’s been x amount of days and you haven’t even acted like you [  ] care or acted like you notice that anything’s even wrong and it’s fine you just go on day in day out with no emotional connection and you’re just fine with that and I will then and if it doesn’t get too attacking I’m okay but then it gets to an attacking place where it’s like and you should be or whatever and then I get into what do you mean I asked you the other night how you were doing I checked in with you I text you you know how’s it going today sounds like you’re having a hard time those were my efforts and now you’re [  ] making me feel bad when I even put out some efforts well and and and I can understand that I guess from this side of the street Billy the hard part for me is just like I am getting wrapped up and taken a personal at times that’s when I’m obviously not seeing myself and not aware and I am participating in the argument that happens I’m not saying it doesn’t more often I am able to see myself and slow it down and I’ve tried a variety of different ways of connecting and saying hey this isn’t you hey I’m trying to point at that thing that happens that you agree upon when we’re calm but you’re not calm and you can’t agree to it right now and like all these different versions and like at some level to me it feels like yeah I’ve done a lot better I’m getting a lot better and I’m changing a lot but when I say hey when I do it the exact appropriate quote unquote right way the healthy I got some [  ] [  ] on my video the healthy way right I report about my feelings and not attacking and not shittily and not at some some level her negative bias filter is hearing it the same way no matter how I say it and at that point I don’t know what to do so the thing that we got from therapy that seems to help with some of this especially when there’s argument times is that they call it the coup’s dialogue which we’ve kind of talked about this before it’s [  ] hard to do right very hard to do but like in those moments Where You Can Tell She’s and some of us we like for her and I we’ll have to say hey do you want to try to couples dialogue this so that we know where we’re at like we can tell one of us is getting angry or heated or we’re getting into that place and the whole idea of that is to just let her talk as much as she wants so it might be like oh it sounds like you’re still hurt by my previous Behavior do you want to tell me more about that and she’ll talk some more and then I’ll I’ll say oh uh do you want to tell me and this is how it goes oh I need do you want to tell me any more about that and then she’ll talk talk talk oh do you want to tell me any more about that and just let him keep talking with no reply no comeback no explanation yeah and just hear it yeah that’d be perfect needs us the end you know whenever you say is there any more no I’m I’m good I’ve said all I want to say okay it sounds like you’re feeling angry hurt rejected whatever yes and it doesn’t even matter if you get the feelings right they’ll correct you and they’ll tell you what the feeling should be yes I love this and then you would say oh do you know do you want to tell me any more about that and if they want to talk more and they’ll say no and if not they’ll say all right then then you flip roles then that person becomes the speaker MH and then I can say you know well this is why or this is how or blah blah blah and you try to kind of stay there and and you know she’s supposed to listen to me and and you try to work through that stuff with that couple and it’s [  ] hard it’s very hard I feel like the avoidant person needs it more than the than the anxious one personally of the so as the avoidant person right oh yeah it still does not it’s taken a lot of times of doing it to start to feel like it’s a safe place it still doesn’t feel safe it still feels very well you’re being ATT there’s rants going on about you yeah during that time right and so it’s well and then for me to say honestly what I think or feel you know that’s the part as an avoidant person like at least for me like it’s usually I’m going to tell you what you want to hear and try to do what I think you want me to do to try to avoid confrontation and high emotional stuff I hate what people think I want right so you know to get to a place where I feel and and so again that all gets back to why like it got to be a place where it’s like look I am who I am I’m good enough just as I am this is how I think this is how I feel stop trying to [  ] make me feel bad about who I am because when I’m there all I’m trying to do is fix [  ] right when I’m okay being who I am then I can say well this is how I think or this is how I feel and I’ve had Jen say to me and I you know it’s I can’t again wrong or right’s a hard judgment it’s easy for me to say well that’s ridiculous but she’ll say I see that you’re getting better it’s [  ] baby steps like it is so minimal compared to where I feel like I am or where I would like you to be so I appreciate that you’re putting in some effort and I appreciate you’re getting better but it’s it’s not doesn’t feel like enough sometimes that’s [  ] hard to hear yeah no and and and what I can H for me I have that feeling a lot towards my wife and I I think the truth is even though I don’t see it this way at all in my body I think the truth is that is an equal and opposite version of that going on between us where I am the person who barely has baby steps and I can’t see it and I I’m open to at least thinking it’s there and trying to look for it and I think that puts me a step ahead of where I was well I can say for me like these what she’s calling baby steps feel like astronomical lifechanging [  ] Revelations same same I feel like like wow look at you know this great stuff and we’re like we’re talking we’re looking eye to eye and I’m engaged and I’m here and I’m trying to be sympathetic and she’s like yeah that’s infant [  ] I’m like oh [  ] you know this is this is where it’s definitely I I believe it’s always two people no one of us could do this alone right it’s taking two people and it’s going to take two people to both acknowledge where both is wrong all the time yeah because it’s every time I’m trying to say you’re the one getting it wrong that I’m missing what I’m getting wrong well and unfortunately and and her and I have talked about and I feel a tremendous amount of guilt over this sometimes and I don’t know if I should or whatever cuz again I don’t know that guilt’s always you know accurate yeah but in one of those attachment style books you know I was listening to because I got into different books and podcasts and listening to a lot of information they talked about an avoidant person being with a uh anxious person and they said for that to ever work the anxious person will have to sacrifice some of their security that the avoidant person like is you will you will get better with that stuff but it’s not likely that you’ll ever go to being overly secure and I I don’t know if I you know there’s other stuff I’ve read that’s been different so I I can’t say that’s 100% but that always Creeps in the back of my mind that she’s never going to be 100% % satisfied with where we’re at and I feel bad because it it felt like no amount of work that I do is ever going to make me this super like intimate emotional seeking right person like she is I don’t know if it’s true or not my my my tendency is to say that sounds like complete utter [  ] that there’s no way to test right or research but I guess for me really what it just comes back to is the idea of uh that I can’t give up my guns because the guy over there might attack me one day right I can’t create a world I don’t believe in right and so like that’s not a very useful thought whether it’s true or not it’s not a useful thought well where it’s been helpful to us without me saying it because I never said that to Jen but she recognizes that she’s got a lower a little bit on her expectations not that it means she still can’t have them that we have emotional connection and maybe you know and again this is who knows in 20 years of work I might get to someplace but it’s [  ] 20 years man you know I mean like it’s it’s probably not going to be in the next five that I’m going to have some over you know Revelation that emotions are going to come spewing out of me and I’m going to long for emotional connection every day like that just that feels so foreign I love my wife and I am like dedicated to putting in the efforts to try to make us better because I think that’s going to be an issue wherever I go is that challenge but there is definitely a part of me that says often this would be way easier the person you started with was much closer to your [ __ ] point right now than the person you’re with honestly you know yeah I’ve thought that for

sure I I can tell you right now that if I believed that ultimate what I was going for was some less than ideal version of my life in my marriage that like it was going to take some amount of sacrifice even at the end I was I believe if I believed that I would be gone there’s no [  ] way I don’t know I think we both somehow got to get to a place where we can be slower where we can be more still where we can think more before that [  ] energy of the nervous system takes over and says the ugly [  ] or or gives us that one track mind that can only see how right we are and how wrong our partner is in that moment and how like how baffling it can get for me at least and confusing that they can’t see it the same way I see it because it seems so [  ] obvious that there’s only one way to see it we all got to find a way to slow down and try to help each other because it ain’t going to be me being good enough that she don’t ever get to me and it ain’t going to be her being so amazing that I don’t ever get to her but I do think she needs to couples as the avoidant I feel like she needs the couples dialogue more because I am the one more frequently coming to her with the problem I’m the mouthpiece I’m the anxious guy I’m the guy that says all the [  ] that’s going wrong and she’s the person that can’t tolerate hearing about my feelings without experiencing it as a person bashing Kim and like that’s my question to her frequently is when am I allowed to come talk about how Jason feels without this becoming a conversation about if Kim’s doing enough or living up to being a wife or like I want to talk about how Jason feels not about Kim’s shortcomings but every conversation I have when I come report to you that the stove feels hot to me ends up being about how bad that is for you to hear I’m like I can’t get anywhere right with that so like I’m in my mind I’m like not that I don’t need the coup’s dialogue sometimes cuz I definitely lose my [  ] mind too and my nervous system but more frequently I feel like our challenge is that I can’t say this doesn’t feel good for me without it being about everybody else in the house and how that impacts them and what that means about them and their life story and like I just want to talk about how I’m feeling and that doesn’t seem to be a topic that we get to do yeah that’s my frustration and this again got back to something we were talking about in the previous episode of like love so I think that’s where Jen and I had to have that conversation about like so what do you think it means to love you in this relationship what does that mean to you and then my job isn’t to make you understand what I think that love is it’s for me to try to better understand what you’re saying that love is because that’s what you’re really looking for you’re looking for what you think love is to you you’re not looking for what I think love is to you I’m looking to feel cared about mad because I’m not living up to your expectation of what you think love and so that’s where we we miss cuz I can say that I love my wife and mean it with 100% sincerity absolutely and still not meet what she needs yes because she’s talking about something different but when I teach can you learn it right well the the problem at least and I can’t I’ll probably put this on you anyway with Jen where I feel like the the stuck point is and I’ve just tried to let it go is that she thinks her version and understanding of Love is the right way and that mine is just some bastardized version of love and that almost like you were talking about this intimate connection and need for intimacy and all that stuff that’s the right way what everybody else is doing is some [ __ ] up version of that and I’m trying to just say that’s your version I don’t know how 100% agree it’s the right version that doesn’t make it any different for my obligation I’m still supposed to try if she’s my wife I’m still supposed to try to meet her there I don’t think that’s the perfect version for everybody in the world I just don’t you know and she thinks that deep intimate connection is what real love is anything anybody else is talking about ain’t real love to her I tend to believe and there’s no research to tell us any of these stats or anything this is me and Billy giv our opinions about life right I tend to believe that there is something close to a typical average human experience that most of us would be experiencing if we hadn’t encountered all these different things that didn’t help us learn how to tolerate our own nervous system experience and help it get back to a place where we’re us so I think frequently when we are dealing with the most stressful situations in our lives we as in Jason and Billy the people we think we are and we talk all these beautiful morals and values on this show we’re not present for that and that’s where I think we’re we get twisted I think there is a very kind of average we all sort of get joy from this things and experiences and we all sort of don’t from these things or experiences but just like you feel that guilt when you’re doing the right thing for your life and body you know your name that goes on the tombstone but you’re feeling guilt about just choosing something in your life it’s the same misprogrammed

most of that not to say that humans wouldn’t be different and we wouldn’t have differences but it would look very much like the animal kingdom differences where basically if you see a [  ] whatever an elephant you and it’s a certain kind of elephant they all kind of act the [  ] same for the most part you know maybe one jumps up four times a day instead of once but I don’t think we’re as varied as we like to think we are and I think the lack of ability for people to see us and care about us in our kind of boringness and disint in in disinteresting lives is where we all seek to be these unique amazing individual people because that’s what the world’s telling us it celebrates and I don’t think any of that is real I think we’re we’re really programmed to try to be these characters but that at a base level underneath all the pain we’re probably all real real real similar maybe that’s my truth but I don’t think that my version or Kim’s version or Jen’s version or your version is the right one right there’s probably something in between and we are probably the two parts of the Extremes in relationship with each other well information I’ve shared with Jen about what a secure relationship looks like she says that looks like [  ] I think there’s a level of emotional security that she hasn’t experienced for two reasons one nobody ever showed her how to so even when she encounters it she doesn’t know what to do with it same with me and two you struggle to understand the emotional environment just like Kim does and it’s not a knock or anything but like Kim talks to me with logic and I try to tell her nobody is actually talking about what’s happening that they see nobody’s talking facts every human if you listen to them is talking about their feelings that’s why we exaggerate it’s why people say we exaggerate because we’re trying to tell you how the situation felt not what actually happened and then people who argue with us are always trying to give us facts to tell us what actually happened I don’t give a [  ] what actually happened I’m trying to tell you how I felt and the more we can understand that you and Jen both even though you think you’re out of touch with your feelings you’re speaking about how you feel not about what really happened you’re speaking about what it felt like on your side of that relationship yeah and I’m trying to understand that better you know what I mean trying to get more in touch with that kind of language about feelings and you know what what that how to express that better like like in my mind that the we talked about last episode with your son and the dog and his overreaction in your eyes 10 years ago right what it what it looked like and I say that is you talking about your feelings in that moment we don’t have space for this that’s a very who says [  ] who is that a rule is that a truth no that’s how Billy feels but you’ve been telling the world that’s what it is you know what I mean and the more we understand that like nothing that comes out of our mouths is actually the truth it’s how we [  ] feel then we get to say oh no wonder mine is so different than the person that is also looking at this situation with me because they’re talking about their feelings they ain’t talking about the truth either right none of us are but like it’s crazy that we’re all sharing and talking about feelings and not actual

reality but none of us know that none of us know that we’re all looking around trying to prove everybody wrong with reality and logic and Common Sense and reasonability it’s like I don’t know [  ] feels different for different people because we’re on different sides of it yeah well and I guess what with like relationship stuff what is interesting to me is like Jen has said like she’s had these like deep emotional relationships with other people yeah they never worked out where they at right right they didn’t work out so what you think you want isn’t what you think you need or what I think you need and apparently I know what you need because we’re still together you know there’s a weird thing there that you know right there’s people are telling you some [  ] you want they’re hitting at a this is a justification in my mind is like yeah they’re they’re talking off all kinds of good [  ] but they’re not taking care of you they’re not providing you a safe warm environment that’s gives you the opportunity to flourish just like she doesn’t do that for you right cuz those people are just like her and they can only do part of it just like me I’m real [  ] good at the my problem is I’m attracted to avoidant people who don’t need any emotional need from me and avoidant people never stick together either right because there’s no Like Glue to like hold that together right right it’s like oh this isn’t that fun anymore I’m going to go over here now we are attracted to people that have something we didn’t get and we want it because we know it’s a part of us and we just wonder like I I know not feeling so overly reactive to every [  ] thing is a part of me somewhere godamn it it was in me before I got hurt and I need to get back to it and like part of my working through this with my wife is her holding me accountable it is me coming and saying I don’t feel good and her saying hey when I offer to help that’s when you realize it’s not me that can actually do anything about it yeah and I mean the way our therapist said it and the way I read it in a book that was slightly different so I’m paraphrasing two things into one kind of idea is that yes we pick people that are similar to our upbringings uh to the in that process of this relationship you’re trying to like heal that old wound and you’re you pick someone that does those same things and then expect them to fix this old wound and unless we’re working together to do that it’s very difficult so that’s what I heard and and maybe this is the great place to end um about attachment and dating and relationships it wasn’t that like it’s impossible for either part of it to get perfect it was more if you’re going into a relationship it’s not you can’t it’s not like saying oh I’m an insecure anxious I’ll game the system by dating another insecure anxious who will care about me or I’ll da I’ll gain the system by getting an avoidant and understanding that they don’t have feelings or maybe I’ll get an avoidant and an anxious and I’ll have a threeway [  ] relationship right a thruple the answer is understanding that you have hurts and understanding that your partner has hurts and both agreeing from the start to work towards what looks like secure connection to understand that okay yes we’re damaged but the goal here is secure connection and we want to be working towards that from the start of how to give that to each other right perfect place to start for any relationship talk about it think about it understand where each other’s starting point is and where the goal line is so that that way there can be steps towards it and understanding of each other in it I feel like that’s the [  ] advice I have around it I read that and I was like that’s beautiful perfect I got nothing better all right so uh I don’t know that we solved any [  ] problems but go out there uh maybe there can be more of a focus on your part when you’re feeling strongly encouraged to focus on somebody else’s part um that’s the only thing I can think that helps me yeah have a good [Music] week have you found that listening to the recovery sord of podcast has helped you in your day-to-day Journey please share the message of compassion and well-being with the loved ones in your life connect with us more at recovery sort of.com Facebook Instagram threads YouTube and other social media spaces and have a great [Music] [Applause] [Music]

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