Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hungry For Love?

Relationship/attachment style is a predictor for vulnerability to disordered eating. Recognizing your attachment style can be a vital part of understanding what motives your disordered eating.  

There are four basic relationship/attachment styles:

1) Securely attached adults are comfortable with intimacy.   They tend to have positive views of themselves and others, and trust that closeness with another person can be a warm, positive, and mutually satisfying experience.  They are less likely to develop eating disorders.

2) Anxious-Preoccupied adults find it difficult to trust that the person they love or care about will be consistently available.   They dislike separation, fearing that “out of sight” leads to “out of mind” and they often seek reassurance that their partner is still there for them.

People who binge may be “hungry” for love but turn to food instead, unconsciously fearing they will never get enough or be satisfied in their relationships.  

3) Dismissive-Avoidant adults are uncomfortable with closeness.  They often prize independence, telling themselves and others that they don’t need anyone else to be happy.  

Underlying this outward disinterest in relationships is the fear that intimacy will lead to rejection, pain or loss of self.  On some level, the belief is that “if you don’t get too close, you won’t get hurt.”  This relationship style is associated with anorexia.

The solution is to turn away from both people and food, restricting the intake of both food and love.

5) Fearful-avoidant adults simultaneously wish for closeness, yet fear intimacy.  They yearn for someone who is usually unavailable, and ardently pursue that person.  If the object of their affection returns their feelings, they lose interest, finding distance safer – until the pattern repeats.

This relationship style is associated with both bulimia and binge eating disorder in which bingeing is a symbolic way to fill up on food, an unconscious substitute for love, fulfillment, and needs. 

Those who struggle with bulimia then get rid of the food as a means of symbolically purging their needs.  In relationships, they allow closeness (binge), and then create distance (purge), as an expression of their conflict about trust. 

Are you more comfortable with distance, or closeness?  

What are your hopes and fears about intimacy?

Where did you learn to mistrust relationships?

How did your parents and others respond to your needs?

How do you respond to your own needs, wishes, and emotions?

Understanding what the conflict is, and how it came to be, is the first step to change.  When you feel safe with closeness, you will be less likely to use disordered eating as a means to create distance.

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Legal Disclaimer:  The content on this site is for educational and informational purposes only.  It is not intended as psychotherapy or as a substitute for psychotherapy advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Anonymous said...

Oooo! Excellent post! I'm sharing!

Anonymous said...

This made a lot of sense to me, based on my own life experience as the 4th (or 5th ;-) type mentioned. Luckily, my partner is the first type! To me, he is an exotic being, someone who has never even had his heart broken! Imagine that! No wonder he claims to have lived a "charmed life." I guess if I believe in my old assumption that the losers who were attracted to me were some indication of my quality, then I have to believe that I also deserve this wonderful, loving man. It's a validation of the work I've done to conquer my eating disorder all these years. I'm an on-going work in progress, but it's great to feel some encouragement . . . from myself! :-)

Anonymous said...

Number 2..that is me I think. I eat when I am lonesome..and I feel I will never find a mate..or rather the mate will never find me. As I age..I get more depressed...I don't know what is wrong w me..I am smart and have been very attractive but seems I am always the girl next door or best friend that a 'potential' mate to me ..thinks I am just always available to talk their problems to..therefore..I eat out of loneliness. Please help!

Rachel said...

I can identify with the 'anxious-preoccupied' scenario. I've noticed that I often eat more when I fear abandonment.

Larry said...

I am fearful of people so I avoid dating sometimes. However, the first entry I read on this blog was very helpful.

Rachel said...

I've done that too-avoid dating. I'm a bit shy in social situations, so sometimes I just go out by myself.

Food Addict said...

I'm the fearful-avoidant type. I constantly seek approval from emotionally unavailable people (sometimes single sometimes not). I never felt like I truly won their affection so I don't know what it's like to lose interest in a person like that. I'm still stuck on the winning of the approval stage. It comes from not being loved and accepted as a child, so I most recently learned.

Sweatpea said...

So am I. It would be nice to be closer to people but I turn to food instead to fill that void.

Theresa said...

I often am also very anxious and preoccupied. It comes from fear of abandonment. I then eat when I'm anxious.

Nora said...

I sometimes would swing between fearful and avoidant. My eating habits are sometimes all over the place.

Susanna said...

I know what that is like. Sometimes I would binge, but instead of purging I sometimes would starve myself.

Kendra said...

I'm a very dismissive-avoidant person. I never really thought about the connection to anorexia and over-independence.

Miles said...

I'm one of those people who is said to be too clingy, which some people might thing is strange for a guy. However, it's true. When I don't get what I want from people I might get angry and eat too much-taking it out on myself.

Julie U.S. Writer said...

I usually am not the clingy type. However, I was with one person who entered my life, mainly because he rejected me in the past.

However, now I'm working on my self-esteem and trying to only hang around people who I don't have to guess like me. That way, I don't feel the need to be clingy. The more secure I feel in myself the less I feel I need to eat.

Sarah said...

I am very fearful-avoidant. That would explain my erratic eating patterns.

Kerry said...

I know what that's like. It seems like men want one woman to talk to and another for sex. It would be nice if guys could realize it's possible to have both in the same woman. 'Til I find one who understands this, I have to fight the urge to try to cure loneliness by stuffing my face.

Harold said...

The last line of this blog post concludes this entire entry very well. Safety in closeness may help a person eat less. However, getting close to people can be hard because everyone I know including me has been hurt before.

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