Philosopher, clinician, researcher, founder, and program developer of the PACT Institute StanTatkin has a lot to say about relationships!
His Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy® (PACT) is neuroscience in action, and his brilliance is spreading quickly! According to Stan, all the Humans are wired for love, and until we embrace that our brain is currently wired for love we can’t unlock our power to re-wire it with new and better patterns of connection than the ones our current brain uses.
In his book Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Diffuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship Stan explains all the science in ways regular folx can digest it. Yep, it’s all your mom’s fault!
No, but really. Researchers have long illustrated that our first interactions with adult care providers impact our brain’s wiring. Safe and loving care results in secure brain wiring and unpredictable and inconsistent care results in insecure brain wiring. Stan helps explain that process by providing analogies: Anchor, Wave, Island.
Stan uses these analogies to illustrate our relating habits, and how to embrace better habits. He further illuminates that once we understand our partner’s wiring, we are better capable of helping them connect in more secure ways. In fact, Stan is certain that all people, despite existing relating habits, can accomplish a confident connection to a partner or person willing to invest in building trust. It is the truth of neuroscience that our brain can rewire, and Stan explains how to do that. I won’t spoil the book by talking about how, but I must share the fundamentals of the analogy!
In Wired for Love, Stan categorizes the three attachment styles this way:
People who are ISLANDS tend to:
like to be alone, enjoy their own space
have an early experience of being self-sufficient
tend to be loners or selective about people
avoid dependency on people
often feel smothered in intimate relationships
prefer and prioritize a world of their own
avoid turning to others for soothing or stimulation
find it hard to shift from being alone to interacting
under express their thoughts and feelings
process most experiences internally
People who are WAVES tend to:
lean into feelings and emotions as facts
have early experience of strong attachments that were inconsistent
have early experience of caring for adults who were overwhelmed
have felt rejected or betrayed by one or more important adults
focused on external approval over self-direction
often ask others for help soothing or problem-solving
find it hard to shift from interacting to being alone
expressive about thoughts and feelings and free-flowing with details
prefer and prioritize the world of others
often believe nobody wants to care for them
People who are anchors tend to:
have early experience of helpful interactions and value of relationships
have experienced justice, fairness and sensitivity
love to collaborate and work with others
read faces, voices, and body language accurately
deal with difficult people well
This way of understanding can help us move towards building trust and connection with intention. To fully understand HOW you gotta read this book! And if it still seems difficult to build the confident connection you deserve, therapy is the next best step.