Falling in love. A natural progression of emotion to connection, binding two together. I like to think that we have a choice in who we love, in how it happens, and with who it happens. I want to believe that I can control my love life with the simplest acts. To synthesize relationships to the simple outcome of scientific processes never felt right. Yet, as much as I hate to admit it, there is no denying the role psychology plays in determining who we fall in love with.
Love has always been something that happens to other people. I think it will always be that way – a feeling destined to be felt in its fullest only by a select few. I have felt it in brief moments. A slight flicker, but it never endured. I wanted an explanation – a reason why every attempt at love has fallen short of ever materializing. So, I searched. The answer would come nonetheless in a second-year psychology course – attachment styles. The phenomenon encapsulates every lie told by romcoms and romance novels. Every supposed trick of fate could be tracked right back to this psychological phenomenon, or so I thought.
Formed in the first years of a child’s life, attachment styles almost exclusively dictate the relationships experienced. The manner in which bonds are formed and the types of relationships we seek can all be traced back to this phenomenon. A game of fate and choice is what love is painted as. The meet-cute in a coffee shop. The drunken night that spirals to a whirlwind forever-type of romance. It’s undeniably something that we will all seek at some point in our lives. That hard, fast, and enduring love, the stuff movies are made of. It’s not realistic.
Secure attachment styles lend to the healthiest forms of relationships. Knowing the balance between yourself and others is key to forming the healthiest bonds possible. When we are secure in our attachment, joy and fulfillment are all found in our partner. Anxious attachment comes in an almost insatiable need for attention to feel secure in any relationship. Trust is a battle, often causing relationships to unravel for fear of inadequacy. Avoidant attachment is a near-complete emotional shut down when it comes to relationships. Emotions are felt deeply, problematic behaviours are ignored, and unhealthy coping habits emerge.
In theory, everyone fits neatly into one of these categories. Secure, anxious, avoidant all indicate a very different approach. So, why don’t I fit one perfectly? I need constant validation in someone’s feelings towards me, or else I will question absolutely everything said to me (anxious?). However, at times I also feel very restricted in what I allow myself to feel (avoidant?). Poor coping habits are my go-to response to anything that goes wrong in my life (also avoidant), but I am also capable of finding balance as I have done before (secure?). I chased some answers to all I have ever questioned and found myself more confused than ever. How could I be some amalgamation of them all, and how could there not be some simple solution to correcting all that I do to love incorrectly?
I fall into unhealthy patterns. Seeking short thrills over long-term connections. It’s all always been out of fear; I know that. I’d rather be viewed as worthy for a brief moment than not at all. But to be chased and wanted, that is all too much. I can recognize my shortcomings yet can never seem to change them. So who am I, if not alone? Some twenty-something seeks the ultimate love story to fall into the trap of missteps and mistakes to climax in an ultimately meaningless fling. Perhaps not meaningless, but nonetheless short and sweet.
I’ve messed up. A lot. Let my guard down and let it all go too fast. Or, I keep it all hidden away for far too long. I struggle to find the balance between all or nothing. Emotionless or an utter mess of feeling that overwhelms others. I control everything else so well, it’s in relationships that I seem to lose that meticulous artistry of controlling the narrative. It’s not that I do not see why love is almost entirely out of the cards for me, because I have over-intellectualized possibly every encounter I have ever had. I watch over past memories marking the exact moment things fell apart. The second that word slipped out my lips and destroyed any chance of reconciling it all. In the end, I trace it all back to myself.
It’s funny. I spend so long imagining some dream life, only to forgo what is right in front of me. I forfeit truth for fiction. An unruly trade built on my own failure to see value in my own time. Scientific? Maybe not. Reality? Absolutely. It’s all a balancing act, in the end. Between the scientific and the lived experiences. What I feel and what I am.
I have healing to do, but that’s not to say I haven’t made progress. I don’t fear rejection anymore. There are never perfect situations, and I could not be farther from a perfect person. I know that time is valuable, and sharing that with someone is more than I could ask for because I didn’t see the value in my time for so long. I could see where I could give, but I never wished to receive. So while I still struggle with advocating for myself, I am no longer terrified of falling short for someone else.
I am not one to deny the role of fate. I do believe that every relationship we experience holds meaning in our lives. Yet, I cannot yield all my trust to fate alone. In all my searching and living, this is what I know to be true. Love is a lesson. A calculated science experiment riddled with the utter mess that is human emotion. Love holds fact, and love holds fiction. Though we can know how we form bonds through attachment styles, there will always be an added component of humanity. There is no denying that.
I fall hard. I fall fast. Yes, I can be quick and naive. Yes, I can put too much hope into situations that I know will never work out in my favour, but there is nothing wrong with that. There doesn’t have to be some systematic explanation behind why I am what I am. Even if there is, I’m not sure I want to lose the magic of love to some over-thought theory. I’d rather take the losses, deal with whatever heartbreak comes my way, and keep the hope that maybe love could be a true possibility.
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