HLSC 1F90 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Attachment Parenting, Codependency, Attachment Theory
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Healthy Relationships and Communication
ch 11, 434-464 (Introduction …TO… Sexual Behaviour)
Human being need social relationships; we cannot thrive as solitary creatures. Nor could the
human species survive if adults didn’t cherish and support each other, if we didn’t form strong,
mutual attachments with our infants, and if we didn’t create families in which to raise children.
Simply put, people need people.
Although people are held together in relationships by a variety of factors, the foundation of
many relationships is the ability to both give and receive love. Love in its many forms---romantic,
passionate, platonic, parental—is the wellspring from which much of life’s meaning and delight
flows. In our culture, it binds us together as partners, parents, children and friends.
Just as important is developing a healthy relationship with ourselves, which includes the ability
to self-soothe, to regulate our emotions, and to be alone with ourselves at times.
Developing Close Relationships
People who develop successful close, often called intimate, relationships believe in themselves
and in the people around them. They are willing to give of themselves—to share their ideas,
feelings, time, needs---and accept what others want to give them.
Self Concept and Self-Esteem
The roots of identity and sense of self can be found in childhood, in the relationships we had
with our parents and other family members. As adults, we probably have a sense that we are
basically lovable, worthwhile people and that we can trust others if, as babies and children, we
experienced the following:
oWe felt loved, valued and respected.
oAdults responded to our needs in a reasonably appropriate way
oAdults gave us the freedom to explore and develop a sense of being separate individuals
Another thing we learn in early childhood is our gender role---the activities, abilities and
characteristics that our culture deems appropriate for us based on whether we are male or
female. In our society, men have traditionally been expected to work and provide for their
families; to be aggressive, competitive, and power oriented; and to use thinking and logic to
Women have been expected to take care of the home and children; to be cooperative,
supportive, and nurturing; and to approach life emotionally and intuitively. Although much more
egalitarian gender roles are emerging in our society, the stereotypes we absorb in childhood
tend to be deeply ingrained.
Our ways of relating to others may also be rooted in childhood. Although our ways of being with
people can be affected by a variety of factors, some researchers, known as attachment
theorists, have suggested that our adult styles of loving may be based on the style of
attachment we established infancy with our mother, father, siblings, or other primary caregiver.
Much work has been done on attachment theory, and as a general overview, people who are
secure in their intimate relationships probably had a secure, trusting, mutually satisfying
attachment to their mother, father, or other parenting figure. As adults, they may find it
relatively easy to get close to others. They don’t worry about being abandoned or having
someone get too close to them. They feel that other people like them and are generally well
oAttachment: The emotional tie between an infant and his/her caregiver or between two
people in a close relationship.
People who are clinging and dependant in their relationships may have had an
anxious/ambivalent attachment, in which a parent’s inconsistent responses made them unsure
that their needs would be met. As adults, they may worry about whether their partners really
love them and will stay with them. They tend to feel that others don’t want to get as close as
they do. They may want to merge completely with another person, which sometimes scares
People who seem to run from relationships may have had an anxious/avoidant attachment, in
which a parent’s inappropriate responses made them want to escape from his/her sphere of
influence. As adults, they feel uncomfortable being close to each other’s. They may be
distrustful and fearful of becoming dependent. Their partners usually want more intimacy than
oEven if a person’s earliest experiences and relationships were less than ideal, however,
they can still establish satisfying relationships in adulthood. In fact, relationships in
adolescence and adulthood give us an excellent opportunity to work on and through
unresolved issues and conflicts from the past. After all, very few people have perfect
parents and perfect siblings, and no one grows up without experiencing some sort of
personal pain and conflict
oPeople can be resilient and flexible. They have the capacity to change their ideas,
beliefs, and behaviour patterns. They can learn ways to raise their self-esteem; they can
become more trusting, accepting, and appreciative of others; and they can acquire the
communication and conflict-resolution skills required for maintaining successful
relationships. Although it helps to have a good start in life, it may be even more
important to begin again, right from where you are. Most important is to be accepting
of and kind to ourselves as we are in the present and to do our best to grow and
The first relationships we form outside the family are friendships. The friendships we form in
childhood are important in our development; through them we learn about tolerance, sharing,
and trust. Friendships usually include most or all of the following characteristics:
oCompanionship: Friends are usually relaxed and happy in each other’s company. They
typically have common values and interests and make plans to spend time together. But
real friends are also able to be tense and unhappy with each other. Unlike fair-weather
friends, we need to be able to support others as we would want support from them,
even on bad days.
oRespect: Friends have a basic respect for each other’s humanity and individuality. Good
friends respect each other’s feelings and opinions and work to resolve their differences
without demeaning or insulting each other. They also show their respect by being
honest with each other.
oAcceptance: Friends accept each other, flaws and all. They feel free to be themselves
and express their feelings without fear of ridicule or criticism.
oHelp: Sharing time, energy, and even material goods is important to friendship. Friends
know they can rely on each other in times of need.
oTrust: Friends are secure in the knowledge that they will not intentionally hurt each
other. They feel safe confiding in each other.
oLoyalty: Friend can count on each other. They stand up for each other in both word and
oMutuality: Friends retain their individual identities, but close friendships are
characterized by a sense of mutuality: “What affects you affects me”. Friends share the
ups and downs in each other’s lives.
oReciprocity: Friendships are reciprocal. There is give-and-take between friends and the
feeling that both share joys and burdens more or less equally over time.
Intimate romantic partnerships are like friendships in many ways, but they have
additional characteristics. These relationships usually include sexual desire and
expression, a greater demand for exclusiveness, and deeper levels of caring.
Friendships are usually considered both more stable and longer lasting then intimate
partnerships. Friends are often more accepting and less critical than lovers, probably because
their expectations are different. Like love relationships, friendships bind society together,
providing people with emotional support and buffering them from stress.
As important as friendships are, however, the average Canadian’s social circle is shrinking—to
the point that 20% say they have no one they want to confide in. Most have only two friends
they consider close enough to discuss problems with. That being said, in a recent Canadian study
of more than 1700 university students, researchers found students to be more satisfied with
their social health, including their connections with friends, family members, and romantic
partners, than with any other aspect of their health.
oThe value of having close friends and confidants is important for both emotional and
Love, Sex, Intimacy
Love is one of the most basic and profound human emotions. It is a powerful force in all our
intimate relationships. Love encompasses opposites: affection and anger, excitement and
boredom, stability and change, bonds and freedom. Love does not give us perfect happiness,
but it does give our lives meaning.
In many kinds of adult relationships, love is closely intertwined with sexuality. In the past,
marriage was considered the only acceptable context for sexual activities. However, for many
people today, sex is legitimized by love. Many couples, heterosexual and gay or lesbian, live
together in committed relationships. We now use personal standards rather than social norms
to make decisions about sex.
Many people, however, worry about this trend toward personal responsibility and the bypassing
of traditional norms and values. They fear that the prevailing attitude about sexuality has
resulted in a greater emphasis on sex over love and a permissiveness that has undermined the
commitment needed to make a true, loving relationship work. This casual attitude toward sex
may also make it easier for people to sexualize their dependency needs.