Earned secure attachment (ESA) sometimes also referred to as “felt safety” is the story of moving from:
Attachment anxiety (struggling not to call too often, trying so hard not to appear too needy and wanting more from the relationship than your date, partner or ex) or;
Attachment avoidance (keeping your options open, always needing space, feeling that relationships are too confining, and your partner is needy and too dependent on you) to;
Secure attachment (confident that your partner has your back and feeling comfortable giving and receiving love without the fear of losing your independence or fear of losing the other person).
It is the story of the human capacity to heal and change through the self- reflective and exploration process. It is also the story of becoming more secure through a direct close long-term relationship with someone with a secure attachment style.
It is the story of a man who falls in love with a confident self-assured woman and becomes the needy anxious partner. She responds lovingly, sensitively and firmly offering her love without being manipulative, overbearing or demeaning. He learns to ask for what he wants or needs and to talk about how he feels without the fear of being rejected or walked out on.
It is the story of a woman who has had one bad relationship after another and meets a man who makes her reconsider her biases towards men, question her beliefs about romantic relationships, and re-evaluate her expectations of what it means to love and be loved. She learns to trust again and let her guard down.
Earned secure attachment (ESA) or “felt safety” is possible with someone who can provide a safe environment (or safe base) to practice feeling comfortable giving and receiving love without the fear of losing your independence or fear of being walked out on.
What I am trying to say in so many words is that being in a relationship with a secure person can make someone secure as well.
You can’t expect someone with an anxious attachment style to stop acting needy and clingy, stop sending mixed signals, stop playing mind games or stop accusing you of things you are not doing when your attachment avoidance keeps asking for space, ignoring them for days, weeks or months, playing power-play games (who initiates contact or who wants who more) – and generally withholding love and affection because you want to keep your options open or are afraid of losing your independence (and “power” over them).
Similarly, you can’t expect someone with an avoidant attachment style to emotionally open up, want to get close and commit to you when your attachment anxiety keeps sending them unnecessary texts, asking for more of their time and space than they want to or are capable of (due to other demands) giving to you, asking how they feel about you just to make yourself feel wanted or loved, violating their boundaries because you have needy expectations of what a relationship should be – and generally making them feel like they owe you your happiness.
One person has to be the secure base from which the other person can learn to be secure as well.
If you are trying to attract back an avoidant or anxious ex, the sooner (and seriously) you begin the journey from insecurely attached to securely attached, the sooner your ex can start turning to you as the secure base.
How do you become the secure base your ex needs?
1. Deep self- work – nothing creates secure attachment without the self-work needed to heal and change. Just reading books and articles is good because you can learn more about your attachment style, but it is not enough. You must do ‘the work” to heal and change.
2. Close relationship with someone with a demonstrated secure attachment style – This can be a friend, a co-worker, mentor, spiritual advisor, coach or therapist. But don’t just attach to anyone. If it’s a friend or co-worker, look at their close relationships, are they comfortable giving and receiving love without all the “other stuff”? If it’s a mentor, spiritual advisor, coach or therapist, how do they view relationships in general and the giving and receiving of love specifically? Are they leaning more towards avoidance? Does their advice create more anxiety in you? Do they provide the secure base from which you can learn to be secure as well?