I’ve had my fair share of unsuccessful relationships.
Sometimes I was the one to blame. Sometimes they were. More often than not, it was a mixture of both — our unhealthy behaviour merged into one big disaster of miscommunication and feelings of resentment.
Over the years, I’ve sorted through lots of information on relationships and psychological behaviour, and I analysed this in the context of my own experiences. When I finally ended up dating a secure and healthy partner, I could recognise so many qualities in him that my past partners and my past self had lacked.
What was purely theoretical till then became a reality. Suddenly, it was all so painfully obvious. All the things my partner doesn’t do that make him a wonderful person to be with, all the toxic behaviour he doesn’t engage in. It all shone through.
I am by no means one hundred per cent healthy — I still have lots of trauma to heal from — but thanks to my secure partner, we can make our relationship work and overcome any obstacles that come our way.
His kind behaviour providing stability and security is even backed up by psychology. Many of us have heard of attachment styles, and I can’t help but agree with the general idea.
Psychology Today describes it like this:
“Research has shown that childhood attachment styles are consistent with those found in adulthood. The attachment styles which individuals develop during childhood, as a result of their interactions with their caregivers, will be similar to the attachment styles exhibited in their adult romantic relationships (Hazan & Shaver, 1987).”
That’s not to say that you can’t heal from your given attachment style (if we couldn’t, what are we even doing here?), but it’s helpful to figure out why you’re acting a certain way because it lets you heal with more understanding of who you are.
Out of all the attachment types, the secure one is what we should all strive after. Bowlby (1888) described secure attachment as being able to connect securely in relationships. It means that you believe you are worthy of love and you trust your partner easily.
Let me develop this idea further. If your partner is healthy and secure, they will very likely avoid committing the following kinds of behaviour.
They’re not scared of abandonment
Been there, felt that, done that.
If your primary caretakers abandoned you at some point as a child, it’s likely you’ll have issues. We can all get through them, though. Personally, I feel like I’ve been making huge progress towards becoming secure and not fearing that my partner will abandon me as soon as there’s a tiny little problem.
When someone’s secure, they don’t expect you to leave them at the earliest opportunity. They trust that you will stay.
This translates into their behaviour — they don’t push you away to protect themselves from potential pain, they don’t cling onto you as if their life depended on it, they don’t tell you that, you know, “whatever, you’ll leave me anyway.”
A secure partner knows they’re worthy of love, and therefore they have no huge fear that you would suddenly stop loving them when you wake up tomorrow. It automatically rids the relationship of lots of silent pressure.
They don’t compete for your attention
Remember the people who forbid you to be friends with the opposite sex as soon as you enter a heterosexual relationship?
Well, these humans are deeply insecure, therefore deeply unhealthy. They are so scared of getting hurt that the mere possibility of you being in the room with a potential sexual partner is too much to take. In the process, they completely forget how essential trust is.
They just can’t make themselves trust you, no matter how hard you try to prove your loyalty. It’s because they ultimately don’t believe that they’re worthy of not being cheated on.
A secure partner will let you have as many friends of as many genders as you like. They realise that there’s a massive difference between a friend and a lover, and they don’t pressure you into giving up your friendships just so they can quieten that fear for a bit.
Fear never truly goes away if all you do is avoid it. Restrictions will pile on top of more restrictions. It will never end.
A secure partner doesn’t care if you go for a meal with whatever friend of whatever sex. They don’t need to compete for your attention with all your other friends because they know they’re your priority, and they don’t feel threatened.
That’s because they have healthy confidence. They believe in themselves. And they believe in your love towards them.
They don’t use emotional manipulation
I once dated a guy who hurt me with his actions, and after I confronted him with it in a peaceful way, he started crying. I ended up consoling him for the next hour.
My hurt feelings were out of the window. It was him-time, even when it very clearly should have been me-time.
My current partner never does this. He doesn’t make things all about him just because it fits him — he focuses on me when I’m hurt. He doesn’t twist my words to be at an advantage in an argument, even though he’s much better at rhetoric, and he isn’t touchy about every single thing that could slightly offend him.
He’s hard to offend in general because he doesn’t much care what people think, which comes from his strong core of self-confidence and self-love.
If your partner refrains from emotional manipulation and is always trying to be reasonable and honest with you, it’s a sign they might be secure — and therefore fantastic.
They don’t pull away
If there’s something I hate, it’s when people run away from arguments instead of trying to sort through the conflict. I especially despise it when I realise I’m the one doing it. Luckily, the more you learn to be self-aware of such behaviour, the better you get at avoiding it.
While growing up, it happened very rarely, if ever, that I would engage in an argument that got resolved in a peaceful way. More often than not, people just got upset, they fought, they silently agreed to having been totally misunderstood, and then they pretended the fight never happened.
The show goes on. And the resentment piles up.
It’s a cowardly move to pull away at the slightest sight of problems, and secure people generally don’t engage in such behaviour. My partner always wants to talk about our issues and come up with tangible solutions that we can apply in order to move on without any secret grudges.
It does take some courage to properly dissect an argument sometimes, especially because it opens up space for vulnerability. However, healthy people worth holding onto aren’t scared of being vulnerable with the people they love.
They embrace it.
With a healthy partner, you’re a team and you know that you can tackle any issue that comes your way through honest communication and empathy.
They’re not afraid to admit their mistake and apologise
There are many people in this world who can’t stand having to admit they were wrong. It hurts their egos because these egos are really fragile, to begin with.
My partner always apologises after he makes a mistake. He apologises in a way that shows he actually means it, and then he proceeds to take concrete steps to fix things.
No excuses, no putting blame on others. He takes responsibility and genuinely says he’s sorry. Secure people don’t have a problem doing this because they know that making mistakes is human, and they have vast reserves of forgiveness not only for others but also for their own selves.
They know it isn’t helpful to beat themselves up about something too much — instead, they forgive themselves and try to be better people next time. They understand that this is the best way to progress and happiness.
What’s more, they love themselves enough to know that saying sorry doesn’t undermine their authority — to the contrary, it shows how self-aware, humble and reasonable they are.
They don’t make you feel unwanted
This is probably the most crucial point.
Often, it’s not just the behaviour of people that leaves an impact — it’s how they make you feel. It’s the whole energy of the person altogether, it’s their complete attitude to you and the atmosphere they create when they talk to you.
When you have a secure partner, you feel absolutely and completely loved by them. They express their love so effortlessly, so regularly and openly that you have no reason to doubt their feelings for you.
You feel loved. Wanted. Desired. Cared for. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world.
Ever since I started dating a secure person, my view on relationships has drastically improved.
I’ve learned to deal with conflicts in a more productive way, I’ve started sorting through my inner issues with more conscious effort, and I’ve been the happiest I had ever been in a relationship.
I hope that one day, I can be just as healthy and secure as my partner. I hope we can all be.
Even if you’re not completely healthy yet, it doesn’t mean you’re not worth dating. Lots of issues can be actually resolved with your partner whilst in a relationship.
There’s a saying in Czech that roughly translates as:
“It’s better to pull when there’s two of you for the job.”
One day, we could all achieve that sense of security and self-love, no matter how many problems we have to deal with to get there.
The journey is worth it.