Relationship Attachment Styles (Part 2)
by Richard Yates MS, LPC, NCC, NBCFCH
So, the independents, in my view, fall into these two categories; productive or unproductive. The same will be true for the dependent attachment styles. The productive independents veer toward the autonomous styles of attachment. The unproductive fall into the avoidant types of attachment.
Just as there are two types of independent attachment types, there are two dependent types. These include productive dependents and unproductive dependents.
Productive dependence refers to those who function well while allowing their partners to assume the lead in most areas of relationship function. This may include dependence on the partner for financial and other basic survival needs. The typical dependent partner who functions productively may see themselves as the providers of emotional, physical, home management and social needs for the other partner. Power and equality are not important to the productively dependent person. These dependent functioning partners are willing to take instruction from their partners. They prefer to support their partners and they see their partners' success as their own success. They are team players who prefer not to have the dominant place in the relationship.
The pros and cons weigh heavily in this controversial category. The advantages of productive dependence are that it is historically endorsed as good for long-term relationship survival. The researcher and relationship historian, Stephanie Coontz, relates that only during the latter part of the twentieth century did people begin to marry for love. Until the last several decades, they married for social, family, religious or financial reasons. As people began marrying for love, the divorce rate began to increase. There is a school of thought that teaches, not everyone can be a leader. Many religions and religious organizations promote the dependent status of women in marital relationships. There is some evidence that relationships last longer when one partner is productively dependent on the other. The disadvantages are obvious. Should a dependent functioning person marry the wrong partner, the results could be devastating. The dependent person would be highly vulnerable to a domestic violence perpetrator or other sadistic person of poor character. Also, there are questions as to the role of the dependent partner in today's world. Relationship values have changed in the western world and it is not certain how the dependent role will survive these changes. What is clear is that the number of productive dependents is decreasing. Those who choose this relationship style often fall prey to criticism from women who feel it is a setback for women's rights.
Unproductive dependence highlights the disadvantages of the productive dependent status but with the added certainty of dissatisfaction. Ultimately, dependence refers to an inability to survive without the other partner. Unlike the productive dependents, the unproductive dependents are uncomfortable with their dependent status. They see themselves as vulnerable and at risk. The unproductively dependents lack trust in their partners and do not subscribe to the values that uphold dependency in a relationship. Some are passive and suppressed, others are aggressive and defiant. This makes for a toxic relationship dynamic. Sadly, these relationships can begrudgingly last for the adult lifespan. The dominant partner may be just as trapped in the poisonous relationship as the dependent partner. Breakups often occur at a huge financial and social cost. These factors are often the reason such relationships become gridlocked.
Richard Yates is a Licensed Counselor (LPC), National Certified Counselor and National Certified Fellow in Clinical Hypnotherapy. He has worked as a psychotherapist since 1996 and his experience spans outpatient work in community mental healthcare with the severely mentally ill, inpatient and partial patient care at a psychiatric hospital and practice at a large psychiatric outpatient practice since 1998. He has developed highly successful and innovative couples counseling techniques and strategies and has successfully integrated Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, along with other traditional approaches, with hypnotherapy.
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