It’s not about the toothpaste, I’m fighting for:
"You don’t know how squeeze the toothpaste? Why the hell do you squeeze it from the middle? Every day I see my toothpaste pressed from the middle. I hate to see it. You have seen me how carefully I squeezed it from down. And your hair is everywhere in the sink, in the hairbrush. You know how I like to keep things neat. After telling you multiple times you don’t even bother," he blamed Sara for being messy and careless.
Sara stood stunned, listening to his Sam harsh words, within a month of her moving into his tiny apartment.
When Sam asked Sara to move in with him, she wanted to move into a bigger place together. He insisted to move into his place even though it was small. He had lived his life on his own terms for a pretty long time and started feeling lonely. After being in a relationship with Sara for six month he thought they can be together.
Then what happened?
Once Sara moved in with him, Sam started to feel cramped and suffocated. He had the habit of living on his own, the way he wanted. Now with her sharing the place, he felt his entire place is being taken away from him. His privacy is gone.
While for Sara it was a shocker. How could he react to such a trivial thing as toothpaste? She anyway was struggling hard to adjust to new tiny place, just to make her relationship work. Had been trying hard to be quiet and not cause any trouble, so she didn't expect him to attack her like that. She was the one making major adjustment and how could he act like this?
Is this about the toothpaste?
No! They couldn’t realize that the underlying problem is different.
Sam having and avoidant attachment style, was living a life of self-sufficiency for a long time. Suddenly sharing his life and place came as a big change. He felt overwhelmed. He struggled to connect and somewhere he started feeling intruded. He started repressing his loving feelings for her. Instead, he got preoccupied with the thought of giving up his independence.
Although deep down he knew how frustrated and lonely he felt before she entered his life. Before meeting her, he felt jealous of his friends who were in a relationship, seeing those sharing their life with their partner made him wondered why he can’t have such life.
Since Sara came in his life, he felt excited and happy. It was his thoughtful decision to ask her to move in with him; suddenly growing closeness and togetherness started deactivating his warm feelings towards her and started sabotaging. But deep down he knew he love her and wants this relationship to work. Sam with the help of therapist started seeing the reason behind his behavior.
What is the underlying issue:
The problem has root in their attachment style and how they connect in relationship:
Having an avoidant attachment style makes Sam feel scared of closeness and proximity. In spite of deep-down craving for love - intimacy scares him.
What pattern do I have? In spite of feeling for her, I think I’m not fit to share my life with anyone.
Situation that triggered activation
and deactivation: I find it hard to adjust to the changes with Sara moving in. I have problem with intimacy. Deactivate to avoid closer.
What are my thoughts and feelings? I feel like a stranger in my own home. I feel trapped and make Sara responsible for it. So, I look for reason and find fault in whatever she does.
Insecure attachment base idea: Started deactivating emotional attachment and running away. By shifting the blame on Sara and believing that she is competent, I started making my way to run away from the situation.
What are my actions?
I want her to do things only my way creating tension and hurting our relationship.
While for Sara being constantly criticized and moving into a new place was challenging. In spite of making lot of adjustment his curt behavior created lots of rifts. His constant criticism and belittling make her feel inadequate.
Now, she questioned her decision of loving him and moving in with him. However, when she looked at the situation with a calm mind, she realized, they can do better if they make few changes to make things work.
She then proposed to move her work to a different place to give
him the breathing space. While he started making changes in his thought process to make things work. He knew he didn’t want to go back to his old life. He needs her, love her and if he can challenge to thinking and the style, he connects they can work on their relationship for good.
Once they both realized that the problem resides in the way they emotionally connect and their attachment style, leading to destructive thought process. They worked together to make things work out and to resolve the growing dissatisfaction.
They needed to work on how they connect with each other most important how they perceived things inherently.
Slowly they moved towards a healthier relation breaking their insecure thought patterns.
Avoidant attachment style in relationship:
As someone with an avoidant attachment style, you have a dismissive
behavior and a fear of commitment. While you are often unaware of your need for distance and separateness —you feel the need to get away but don’t understand why. When you get that feeling, you may assume that you’re beginning to be less attracted to your partner, in which case, what is there to talk about?
Making you hastily decide that probably they are not 'the one' for you, why prolong the agony. But then you find yourself in one failed relationship after another, repeating the same cycle again and again.
If you are avoidant, the first step, therefore, is to acknowledge your need for space, your need for emotional independence—whether emotional or physical—when things get too close, learn how to communicate that need.
Explain to your partner in advance that you need some time alone when you feel things getting too mushy and that it’s not a problem with him or her but rather your own need in any relationship.
Often, we overlook at the underlying issue, that makes problem hard to solve. Knowing your relationship style and basic needs helps you understand and navigate tough waters. Awareness and self-reflection are key in overcoming these challenges and fostering healthier relationships.
By recognizing the underlying fears and insecurities driving avoidant behaviors, you can work towards building secure attachments and fostering open communication.
Join our community of relationship enthusiasts! Don't miss out on valuable insights and tips to improve your relationships. Like, share, and subscribe to our website to stay connected and receive regular updates delivered straight to your inbox.
Together, let's embark on a journey towards healthier and more fulfilling connections!
Levine, A., & Heller, R. (2010). Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love. TarcherPerigee.