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Connection is Scary

Couple sitting on a couch

Many of us have been taught to stand on our own two feet for handling life's challenges. In twentieth century America, parents and society taught young people to be self reliant. And that was supposed to be a good thing.

The need to lean on others for support and nurturing was suggested to represent a sign of weakness.

But what if that over emphasis on independence set most of us to struggle and even be terrified of attempting secure attachment. And even if we wanted to connect... many people in America, and around the world, have never experienced, much less practiced healthy partnerships with significant others.

For many young couples the willingness to engage in connecting events is often driven by hormones and the excitement of exploring common philosophies and activities. But what happens when couples get older and more mature nurturing skills is needed.

Negotiating mutual security and sustaining love is a scary proposition when one or both partners lack the mindfulness skills for handling distress. Instead of using challenging events to expand the relationship into a deeper sense of attachment, crises often trigger one of both partners into a state of panic.

And then the destructive cycle of fear and insecurity locks partners into a downward pattern of survival. But instead of teaming up with our partner... people shift into panic. Under extreme or prolonged stress the theme of "every man for themselves" digs it's ugly claws into everyone's brain.

My hopes are you and your significant partner come out of the quarantine in a connected frame. If brains have become locked in the destructive pattern of doubting the other's intentions and purposes then they don't have to stay that way.

Reach out to your partner for reconnecting. Slow your own brain down first. Offer reassurance you are on your partner's team and you want to find middle ground. If bad words and gestures were common events during the recent crisis... give your verbal intentions of wanting to make amends.

Be ready to be required to demonstrate consistent behavioral efforts for showing it's safe to get close to you. And of course safety goes both ways for consistency to be reached from all involved.

If all else fails, reach out to me or another relationship focused therapist for professional assistance in changing directions. Brains can get re-trained and partnerships can learn new skills for achieving the mature love and affection that goes beyond hormones and the excitement of youth.

Dr. Steven Brown, Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is a Clinical Associate with Family Guidance Centers in our Chesterfield office. He provides individual, family, and marital therapy. Dr. Brown has experience reaching over 30 years. He can be reached at 804-743-0960 or can be emailed at

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