How should I go about discussing my partner's attachment style tactfully?
By - BananaRuntsFool
I think if you aren't careful, you could venture into "therapist" territory. I commend you for wanting to know where that comes from, but perhaps asking in a different way helps it come from you as a partner. I actually think being more direct may help.
"How can I help you feel more supported when you feel stressed? I know you like your space when you're overwhelmed, so how can I both give you the space you need while also letting you know I support you?" And maybe even respond to them with "I can appreciate you need space when you feel like that, how about a heads up when you need space would help me feel more secure?" Something that feels genuine to you.
"What makes you feel appreciated? What makes you feel loved/adored?"
I think being more direct gets you the answers you might need. As an AP person as well, I can identify with wanting to know it all because I love them and just want to make them feel their best. When I step back, I notice it is my way of "fixing," them, focusing on their feelings and not my own. I tend to use it as a way of meeting their needs as opposed to standing up for my own. I think you can do both, but I notice that my way of trying to get my needs met is often trying to meet the other person's needs in the hopes that if their needs are met they will finally be able to meet mine.
That last line is literally something I JUST thought of and I'm kinda having an epiphany.
Open-ended questions and statements. Make it feel conversational, not like an interview. I know there are a lot of scripts out there that are meant to guide couple's into these conversations, but sometimes if it's too scripted, it can feel inauthentic and feel like putting your partner on the spot. So I feel like start questions with "What do you think about -" or "Has there ever been a time when -" is a good place to start.
Another less threatening way to do this is to shift the focus away from their attachment style as an individual (which does get into therapist territory) and focusing on the dynamic as a couple, since ultimately that's what's important. If you're gonna dig into your partner's past, you better be ready to answer these questions for yourself too.
And unfortunately opening up old wounds is unavoidable with these topics, so you'll just have to deal with that.
I think the other comments are good advice, but I just wanted to say to make sure you don't push when you do try to have the conversations. If they say they are uncomfortable or want to stop, allow them that space. Respecting their discomfort is another big way to show up for DAs, I feel. It's a small way to show them that their needs and feelings matter, which will help them feel safer to open up.
What I did was take an attachment test & sent it to me then-partner. He took one too & he SAID he was secure but he's def avoidant. Sometimes people don't WANT the truth. So we talked about our answers & then I let it go. The thing is that he must be receptive to possibilities, & most avoidants feel criticized even when it's not a criticism. They are very sensitive to that type of thing. Someone else said to be conversational, & I agree. No pressure. Remember that you're not a therapist, you don't WANT to be his therapist & - most importantly - this could be a wound of yours exposing itself, constantly overreaching in relationships. (ahem. me). He must do his own work. Just be his support system. :)