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Author Topic: Attachment styles of pwBPD  (Read 2619 times)
Pingo
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« on: November 28, 2014, 08:13:37 AM »

I am currently reading a book called 'Attached' by Amir Levine and it is extremely interesting and insightful.  It is a book about attachment theory in adults. I am left with confusion about some different aspects of this whole attachment theory.  When I began to read the book I decided my ex had an 'anxious' attachment. He was hypervigilant, possessive and jealous.  But as I read through I see that he was also 'avoidant'.  He was secretive and controlling.

I think I also have an 'anxious/avoidant' attachment but I don't think I always did.  I think this r/s created this in me.  I think I had secure attachment with some avoidant tendencies based on past r/ss.  

I am wondering if anyone has more insight on attachment theory and how it plays out in these r/ss, especially an abusive r/s. The examples in the book on how to resolve issues in r/s with people with different attachment styles is based on healthy partners.  I can't see how it relates to these extreme r/ss that we've been through.

Also, for those of us trying to get back into the dating scene, I really recommend this book.  I think it will be helpful in recognising these different attachment styles in potential partners and help us to select people with secure attachments and also help us to become the securely attached.  

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Hutsepotmetworst
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2014, 08:25:11 AM »

Hey Pingo,

I'm also reading a book on attachmentstyles  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

My conclusion was that my uxBDFgf had an anxious/avoidant attachmentstyle.

I, myself, have always been of the avoidant type, but working on that since my marriage broke off.

I believe that the awareness of your own attachmentstyle can help you grow to a more secure style.
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2014, 08:39:27 AM »

Hey Pingo,

I'm also reading a book on attachmentstyles  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

My conclusion was that my uxBDFgf had an anxious/avoidant attachmentstyle.

I, myself, have always been of the avoidant type, but working on that since my marriage broke off.

I believe that the awareness of your own attachmentstyle can help you grow to a more secure style.

Can I ask what you are reading? 

I would be curious to see how our attachment styles affected our choice to be in these crazy r/ss.  I know my ex brought out my 'anxious' attachment tendencies in the beginning and my 'avoidant' attachment tendencies later on when he tried to control and possess me. 
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2014, 08:51:43 AM »

Can I ask what you are reading? 

I'm reading a book in Dutch, "Blijf bij mij" (Stay with me) by Rika Ponnet.

What part of us is lured into the relation with our xBPD is a question that I cannot answer yet.

I'm also keen to learn more about that. But I'm just halfway my book  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2014, 04:42:43 PM »

I've read and am rereading the book 'Attached' and find it very insightful too.

The thing I like about attachment styles is everybody has one, unlike personality disorders, which are much more rare.  And a personality disorder is not an attachment style.  I don't know what attachment style my ex had and don't care, it's irrelevant in the face of BPD, but when she was in devaluation mode she acted very avoidant, and I've learned that people with anxious attachment styles like me don't do well with people with avoidant styles, they're like Kryptonite for us, which is why I thought I was literally going insane in the relationship.

The good news is that it's said 60% of people have a secure style, 20% anxious and 20% avoidant, so I've got an 80% change of getting with someone other than an avoidant person.  I've also known other women whom I wouldn't consider disordered, but they were definitely avoidant, and that just doesn't work for me; I need someone to be emotionally available and communicate what's going on with them, especially where the relationship is concerned, otherwise, you guessed it, I get anxious and start to wonder where I stand.

The other good news is when an anxious person gets with a secure one, they can become more secure.  So there you go.  We've graduated from BPD school and I don't see myself ever being susceptible to that again, plus attachment theory is so simple and obvious, and when we meet new people and think from that frame, it becomes clear what type of person we're dealing with quickly, which can save a lot of time on the way to the life of our dreams.
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2014, 04:53:04 PM »

I read this book too.  I believe, prior to the r/s, I actually fell more into a category between secure and avoidant.  After the r/s, with all of the dishonesty and emotional abuse, I went into the anxious  . I found it interesting to note, based on their fear of abandonment and evaluation/devaluation, my expwBPD, actually didn't place in the same catagory if her behavior before and after were factored in,  in fact, if I recall this correctly as I read this mid-FOG,  the author notes that someone whose results indicated that movement may need professional help.   Interesting... .my hope is that the secure Hawk will come back.  Currenty, in the very beginning of a new r/s and I am super cautious and trying to be brave.
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2014, 11:15:46 PM »

The other good news is when an anxious person gets with a secure one, they can become more secure.  So there you go.  We've graduated from BPD school and I don't see myself ever being susceptible to that again, plus attachment theory is so simple and obvious, and when we meet new people and think from that frame, it becomes clear what type of person we're dealing with quickly, which can save a lot of time on the way to the life of our dreams.

I agree, it takes a lot of the guess work out of things.  It is so very simple and reduces self-doubt.  Who knew I was allowed to express my feelings and I don't have to worry about coming across as needy or insecure.  Better to express who I am, how I relate and find the person who will want to meet my needs and not shame me or run away from them.  My T said that being around a secure person will make me more secure, good advise!  The book describes abusive behaviour as avoidant.  Keeping people at arms length. I think this is over simplistic.  I think that there is a heck of a lot more going on than just conflicting attachment styles.

I read this book too.  I believe, prior to the r/s, I actually fell more into a category between secure and avoidant.  After the r/s, with all of the dishonesty and emotional abuse, I went into the anxious  . I found it interesting to note, based on their fear of abandonment and evaluation/devaluation, my expwBPD, actually didn't place in the same catagory if her behavior before and after were factored in,  in fact, if I recall this correctly as I read this mid-FOG,  the author notes that someone whose results indicated that movement may need professional help.   Interesting... .my hope is that the secure Hawk will come back.  Currenty, in the very beginning of a new r/s and I am super cautious and trying to be brave.

I'm stuck on the anxious thing too now and I don't think I ever was this way before.  It is really painful.  And any avoidant behaviour really triggers me. 

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« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2014, 11:36:09 PM »

Attachment in any form is unhealthy. Love has no perquisite of attachment, and attachment has no perquisite of love. If anything, love and attachment are enemies. Attachment leads only to unhappiness. Nothing in this material existence can bring us happiness be it a person, place or thing. Including money, sex, or drugs. Happiness is an inside job. If you would like to know more, ask me. Attach:detach. Attachment equals pain and suffering, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but inevitable. We all want to be happy and nobody wants to suffer. The primary difference between dependence and interdependence. What a world of difference in two vowels and three consonants.
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2014, 02:44:00 AM »

I can't say her attachment style. Is paranoid a style, Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)? Anyways I know mine is "disordered attachment style". Only people with disordered attachment style get depersonalization disorder, which I've had, and still have to some degree.
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2014, 08:19:39 AM »

Attachment in any form is unhealthy. Love has no perquisite of attachment, and attachment has no perquisite of love. If anything, love and attachment are enemies. Attachment leads only to unhappiness. Nothing in this material existence can bring us happiness be it a person, place or thing. Including money, sex, or drugs. Happiness is an inside job. If you would like to know more, ask me. Attach:detach. Attachment equals pain and suffering, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but inevitable. We all want to be happy and nobody wants to suffer. The primary difference between dependence and interdependence. What a world of difference in two vowels and three consonants.

Your post is an almost perfect description of someone with an avoidant attachment style Perf, I can see these things now, and it's a brand new world!
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2014, 08:44:35 AM »

Attachment in any form is unhealthy. Love has no perquisite of attachment, and attachment has no perquisite of love. If anything, love and attachment are enemies. Attachment leads only to unhappiness. Nothing in this material existence can bring us happiness be it a person, place or thing. Including money, sex, or drugs. Happiness is an inside job. If you would like to know more, ask me. Attach:detach. Attachment equals pain and suffering, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but inevitable. We all want to be happy and nobody wants to suffer. The primary difference between dependence and interdependence. What a world of difference in two vowels and three consonants.

We have evolved to attach.  A baby attaches to their mother.  Either securely or insecurely.  But I think I know what you are getting at.  When I read Harriet Lerner's books on differentiation it seemed to conflict with attachment theory until I read more about it.  And denying we shouldn't 'attach' keeps us vulnerable to ending up in the wrong relationships again.  The goal is to find security in our attachment by being open and honest and learning how to communicate and finding a partner who will bring out the best in us, not trigger us to our defense mechanisms.
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2014, 09:28:37 AM »

Being in a relationship doesn't have to include attachment. As adults, relationships with attachment are unhealthy. If the mother child attachment is carried into an adult relationship it could not be a healthy one. Evolution or change is the very nature of all life, including human beings. Attachment existing as a normal function of life. Undermining attachment is fundamental in evolving into a fully potentialised  human being. Attachments are meant to be broken. The fetus is attached by the umbilical cord. This is the first attachment to be broken. The child grows, evolves into wisdom and knowledge by breaking attachment.
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« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2014, 11:41:13 AM »

Being in a relationship doesn't have to include attachment. As adults, relationships with attachment are unhealthy. If the mother child attachment is carried into an adult relationship it could not be a healthy one. Evolution or change is the very nature of all life, including human beings. Attachment existing as a normal function of life. Undermining attachment is fundamental in evolving into a fully potentialised  human being. Attachments are meant to be broken. The fetus is attached by the umbilical cord. This is the first attachment to be broken. The child grows, evolves into wisdom and knowledge by breaking attachment.

I think maybe you are using the word 'attachment' to mean enmeshment?  I understand this and realise that I had an unhealthy attachment to my mother, I never differentiated from my family in a healthy way.  My identity was wrapped up in their feelings and opinions.  It has caused me much anguish and has left me very vulnerable to abusive r/ss.  I think in 'attachment theory', attachment refers to interdependence, not enmeshment.  It allows for autonomy.  Attachment refers to how we relate to others.  And this is established as infants.  Figuring out how we attached will help us in understanding how we relate to others as adults.  And in doing so we are able to identify ways in which we defend ourselves rather than communicate our needs effectively. 

When we fall in love with someone, the same chemicals are released in our brain as were released when our mother comforted us as infants.  When we kiss and cuddle with our SO oxytocin is released, an important hormone in pair bonding.  Why would this be true if we weren't meant to attach to others as adults?
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« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2014, 12:14:27 PM »

Even when attached in a relationship that does not posses the dynamic of BPD, the relationship at some point will end. We must say good bye to all. This is not avoidable. We will suffer the loss in proportion to the strength of attachment. When true love is present, we don't want anybody to suffer. We can love without attachment. This is the purest love. The chemicals that our bodies produce are from our bodies and promote the body. When the body is examined, cut open, no mind is found. Explain this?
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« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2014, 12:23:41 PM »

We can sit and meditate, be still, create our own bliss, and when we do that enough we can find nirvana, a state of egolessness, and once there, we discover that we aren't separate from anything, everything's connected, we are all one.  Or are we all attached?

Humans are social animals, we evolved that way, since folks working together fared better and the loners perished; no man is an island.  If the word 'attached' or the term 'attachment style' doesn't sit well, pick another one, but the end-all is who we are is who we are in relation to others, as well as in relation to ourselves.
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« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2014, 01:34:58 PM »

Attachment is indeed part of human nature. Without it we would not exist. Impermanence is what human nature is held within. The weakest part of our suffering is attachment. When the wheel turns, and it always does, if we are attached we will be torn. Through a breakup, a death or any other separating change in a relationship, attachment is the reason we suffer. Through our nature we are all connected. This is the road to compassion, realizing that we are all caught in a similar type of existence.
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« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2014, 01:50:33 PM »

Excerpt
When the wheel turns, and it always does, if we are attached we will be torn. Through a breakup, a death or any other separating change in a relationship, attachment is the reason we suffer.

Which gave birth to the question "Is it better to have loved and lost, or never to have loved at all?"
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« Reply #17 on: November 29, 2014, 01:58:41 PM »

Love doesn't hurt. Attachment does.
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« Reply #18 on: November 29, 2014, 02:15:19 PM »

It's true that love doesn't hurt Perf, but attachment doesn't either, necessarily.  If you love someone and they love you back an attachment will be formed, and when it does each person's attachment style will become evident, and if someone is holding the belief that attachment hurts, they are exhibiting an avoidant attachment style, which is illuminating to the topic of this post.
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« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2014, 02:32:10 PM »

I love a lot of people. A lot of people love me. Because of an understanding of the temporary nature of mind and body, I know that we will separate. How would attachment serve me? Attachment has no duality. Attachment can be to anything. There are infinite ways to attach. All attachment is risen out of feeling or sensation delivered to us through our senses after we come into contact with something that either pleases or displeases us based upon qualities that they don't actually posses, but rather we assign to them. Breaking attachment will liberate us from suffering.
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« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2014, 02:41:59 PM »

That person is desirable! Why? Because we assign that quality to them based upon our own misperception of them. Do you not have an attraction to a potential partner before you ever say one word to them or even get to know them? I love freely and honestly without attachment. I want peace and happiness in my life and the lives of those around me.
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« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2014, 02:57:33 PM »

Well I have now finished the book and what I thought was true at the beginning ended up being completely different at the end.  I see that I have at times been securely attached in r/ss (a few relatively healthy ones) but mostly I've had insecure attachments being brought out by partners who also have insecure attachments.  My uBPDexh was anxious and although I thought that his secrecy and ST's were a form of avoidance I can now see that it was him being anxious.  He didn't do these things to distance himself from me, it was about punishment and control.  And I was anxious at the beginning as well but grew more and more avoidant as things went on.  The more he tried to control and possess me the more I withdrew from him emotionally (not to punish but to survive and detach).  I think in this case avoidance is healthy.  I was already detaching long before I left the r/s.  

Since August I have reconnected with an old bf via fb & phone.  It's been 16 yrs since he broke up with me for someone else.  Actually we were engaged.  I got over it easier than this BU. Life went on. Now after all these yrs we tried to establish a friendship.  But there was constant push/pull by him (he is not personality disordered) and a lot of inconsistencies in his contact.  I was always trying to figure out what was going on, is this guy playing games?  He was going through some majorly difficult things (like the loss of his brother) so I just excused my feelings thinking I was being too insecure or reactive and shouldn't have any expectations of him.  After reading this book I realise that he totally has avoidant attachment which triggers my anxious attachment and that is why it is making me so unhappy.  It also makes me realise that I can't be with this guy, I actually do have the right to be with someone who is reassuring and consistent and emotionally available.  You'd think this isn't rocket science but it really has been like a light bulb moment for me!  It has also made me realise that even after a 4 yr r/s with a pwBPD I am STILL vulnerable to getting into another dysfunctional r/s.  I think I was attracted to him bc he was so different (and so less crazy) than my uBPDexh.  It was refreshing.  But I was still willing to ignore my feelings!  So the healing/growing/learning continues... .

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« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2014, 03:18:02 PM »

Excerpt
After reading this book I realise that he totally has avoidant attachment which triggers my anxious attachment and that is why it is making me so unhappy.  It also makes me realise that I can't be with this guy, I actually do have the right to be with someone who is reassuring and consistent and emotionally available.  You'd think this isn't rocket science but it really has been like a light bulb moment for me!

There you go Pingo, the same thing happened for me with that book, lightbulb moments.  Working through the exercises and looking back at prior relationships, it is now crystal clear why it didn't work; they had avoidant styles.  A relationship between a person with an anxious style and one with an avoidant style can work however, it just takes work and there will always be that underlying clash of styles.  One focus shift I've taken out of it is ask the question "what would someone with a secure style do here?".  Fruitful.

Excerpt
It has also made me realise that even after a 4 yr r/s with a pwBPD I am STILL vulnerable to getting into another dysfunctional r/s.

Maybe we're not so vulnerable anymore.  And the way to make a dysfunctional relationship functional is to function well in them, starting with picking secure or anxious partners, which is 80% of the population, so our chances are good.  I'm excited by this news!
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« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2014, 03:39:58 PM »

I love a lot of people. A lot of people love me. Because of an understanding of the temporary nature of mind and body, I know that we will separate. How would attachment serve me? Attachment has no duality. Attachment can be to anything. There are infinite ways to attach. All attachment is risen out of feeling or sensation delivered to us through our senses after we come into contact with something that either pleases or displeases us based upon qualities that they don't actually posses, but rather we assign to them. Breaking attachment will liberate us from suffering.

Yes, attachment can be anything, but in the field of study of attachment styles it's a specific thing, and 100% of the population has an attachment style.  And having an avoidant attachment style isn't a bad thing, it just is, and the take-away for people with anxious attachment styles like me is attachments with people with avoidant styles are bad news, since they will always form an attachment that doesn't meet either person's needs.  That's OK, people with either avoidant or anxious styles have 80% of the population that aren't the style they don't gel with, so armed with the info, no worries.
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« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2014, 04:48:52 PM »

Fromheeltoheal, I am familiar with attachment theory in romance. It evolved from parent-child studies. The deeper, more subtle attachment is something you touched on earlier. We are already all in unity. To allow attachment to form one must view themselves as separate from everyone else. From a position of universal existence, the notion of attachment is absurd.
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« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2014, 05:59:08 PM »

I agree Perf, and that may make a great topic for another thread, and this one is about attachment styles, something both Pingo and I have found profound.  Humans have both the need for connection and love and the need to feel unique, significant, in a sense the needs to feel both together and separate, and how those show up in individual personalities in part determine our attachment style.  Which style would you say you have Perf?
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« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2014, 06:35:10 PM »

I would say that learning about attachment theory is just another tool in the toolbox.  It doesn't explain everything but it does add a lot of insight.  I feel like I'm an onion with many layers and being able to apply attachment theory to my life and defensive behaviors is like peeling another layer back.  I would like to have a zen mind where I can detach from everything and live in a state of bliss but that is not likely to happen in my injured state.  And since you have to go through the pain, not around, in order to heal, accepting I have a dysfunctional attachment style is actually empowering.  It gives me hope that I can create a life where the attachment is healthy and brings out the best in both of us.  It also reduces my shame about my 'neediness and insecurities' and it helps me recognise my triggers.  I didn't get here for no reason.  It helps me find compassion for myself and for the others in my life.
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« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2014, 06:52:39 PM »

Excerpt
accepting I have a dysfunctional attachment style is actually empowering.  It gives me hope that I can create a life where the attachment is healthy and brings out the best in both of us.  It also reduces my shame about my 'neediness and insecurities' and it helps me recognise my triggers.

Another thing empowering about attachment styles is none of them is dysfunctional, they just are, and that word is not used to describe them in that book.  Dysfunction applies to relationships, and a part I liked was not only can an anxious person and a secure person have a totally functional relationship, partly because a secure person knows intuitively that an anxious one needs reassurances and emotional closeness and gives that to them easily, but it's what they want too.  Plus, being in a relationship with a secure person can make the anxious one more secure, and while an avoidant person may make us feel ashamed about the needs we have, a secure one just meets them without question.  Life is about to get awesome Pingo, it's about letting the right ones in, and who we are is who we are in relationship with others.
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« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2014, 06:57:39 PM »

accepting I have a dysfunctional attachment style is actually empowering.  It gives me hope that I can create a life where the attachment is healthy and brings out the best in both of us.  It also reduces my shame about my 'neediness and insecurities' and it helps me recognise my triggers.

Another thing empowering about attachment styles is none of them is dysfunctional, they just are, and that word is not used to describe them in that book.  Dysfunction applies to relationships, and a part I liked was not only can an anxious person and a secure person have a totally functional relationship, partly because a secure person knows intuitively that an anxious one needs reassurances and emotional closeness and gives that to them easily, but it's what they want too.  Plus, being in a relationship with a secure person can make the anxious one more secure, and while an avoidant person may make us feel ashamed about the needs we have, a secure one just meets them without question.  Life is about to get awesome Pingo, it's about letting the right ones in, and who we are is who we are in relationship with others.

Good point fromheeltoheal, dysfunctional is my own judgement, the book describes it as insecure attachment.  It has led to dysfunctional r/ss bc we both triggered each other and didn't recognise what was going on. 

I now know that when I hear that little voice early on, the one that says 'this feels uncomfortable' or 'this makes me feel insecure and uncomfortable' is actually a voice to listen to, not one I should feel ashamed about or beat myself up about bc I think I should be something different, more secure and less reactive.  We need to learn to listen to that voice!
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fromheeltoheal
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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Broken up, I left her
Posts: 5642


« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2014, 07:12:37 PM »

Excerpt
I now know that when I hear that little voice early on, the one that says 'this feels uncomfortable' or 'this makes me feel insecure and uncomfortable' is actually a voice to listen to, not one I should feel ashamed about or beat myself up about bc I think I should be something different, more secure and less reactive.  We need to learn to listen to that voice!

Yeah, I'm very familiar with thinking I should be something different, which of course comes from thinking I'm 'not good enough' the way I am.  Very disempowering mindset, and although my head goes there automatically, I'm a lot better at catching myself at it today.

And beyond just listening to the voice that says 'this feels uncomfortable' or 'this makes me feel insecure and uncomfortable', I've been practicing actually saying it to people, because it's true in the moment, and also to see what I get.  Some people are easy with the negative judgments, unsolicited advice, or unwillingness to engage with me there, but some, the ones I want to keep in my life, validate those feelings and create a safe place where it's OK to talk about what's going on with me.  Those are the people we need in our lives Pingo, in a romantic relationship or not, and I've pretty much had enough of settling for less, and blurting out my truth is a quick way to see who's going to be there for me and who isn't.
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