Mindfulness and Attachment, Sex, and Love

Posted on: August 22nd, 2015 by Paul

Remember the Ten Paradoxes, well here’s another side to Paradox 8: With attachment, work. Without attachment, play.

The most common meaning is unhealthful stress and attachment makes everything hard work and sometimes really difficult! When attachments are healthy; it’s really no hard work at all, time flies, and we can learn to play again with those we love, work with, friends, and others in our lives.

… “the place where attachment and stress overlap: distressed relationships. In the previous chapter I mentioned John Gottman’s stories from women in abusive relationships, who said that some of the best sex followed immediately after acts of violence, and Isabel in What Do Women Want?, who craved sex with a commitment-phobic ex but lacked desire for her awesome current boyfriend.

Both of these puzzles make perfect sense when we understand attachment-driven sex when the attachment is threatened. Attachment is about survival; relationships are about survival. When they are threatened, we do whatever it takes to hold on to them, because there are no higher stakes than our connection with our attachment objects.

I’ll illustrate this idea with some of the darkest and most disturbing science I’ve ever read— it’s disturbing precisely because it shows us how powerfully attachment affects the emotional wellbeing of mammals like us. In Harry Harlow’s series of “monster mother” studies, conducted in the middle of the twentieth century, his research team invented mechanical “mothers,” to which infant rhesus monkeys attached.

Once the infants were emotionally attached to the monster mothers, the mechanical devices shook the infants, spiked them, or jetted cold air onto them, to force the babies away. And what did the infant monkeys do when their “mothers” treated them badly, shook them off, rejected them?

They ran back to their mothers.” **

What do you keep running back to? Be mindful of it and you can change it.

Mindfulness requires that you “become aware of the patterns, whether of thought or behavior, and then that you develop skills to replace those patterns with new ones. Allow yourself to feel those old feelings, but now, instead of engaging in the habitual self-defensive patterns, begin practicing new patterns.” **

** Nagoski, Emily (2015-03-03). Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life (Kindle Locations 2253-2265). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.