How Attachment Styles Effect Relationships, Addiction, and more w/Nate Christensen APCC

Nate Christensen, APCC, joins Tony to discuss attachment styles and how they relate to addiction, and how attachment shows up in marriage. Out of the various attachment styles, what does it look like when an anxious attachment style meets up with an avoidant attachment style in relationships where trust has been broken? If you are interested in working with Nate you can contact him through the contact form on Tony’s website Tony and Nate are also facilitating Tony’s pornography recovery program The Path Back, find out more at

This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

Tony’s FREE parenting course, “Tips For Parenting Positively Even In the Not So Positive Times” is available NOW. Just go to and sign up today. This course will help you understand why it can be so difficult to communicate with and understand your children. You’ll learn how to keep your buttons hidden, how to genuinely give praise that will truly build inner wealth in your child, teen, or even in your adult children, and you’ll learn how to move from being “the punisher” to being someone your children will want to go to when they need help.

Tony’s new best-selling book “He’s a Porn Addict…Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions” is now available on Kindle.

Tony Overbay, is the co-author of “He’s a Porn Addict…Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions” now available on Amazon The book debuted in the number 1 spot in the Sexual Health Recovery category and remains there as the time of this record. The book has received numerous positive reviews from professionals in the mental health and recovery fields.

You can learn more about Tony’s pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting And visit and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs, and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the “uh’s” and “um’s” that, in his words, “must be created by wizards and magic!” because it’s that good! To learn more about Descript click here

———- TRANSCRIPT ———-

[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode 270 of The Virtual Couch, I am your host, Tony Overbay, and today, prepare to go to school. You’re going to learn a lot today, and I have no doubt about that. And my associate, my friend, my colleague, Nate Christianson, back on live because a few weeks ago I reran an episode that Nate did on giving his Ten Commandments of dealing with depression. And that went absolutely fantastic. But in this episode, Nate was back in the studio and as I shared in that best of Nate is my new associate and associates. All were formerly known as interns. And he and I talk very briefly about that in the beginning. But an intern or an associate in a therapy and counseling world is basically somebody who has received their master’s degree in counseling. They’ve been seeing clients as part of their practicum or is their coursework. And now they’re able to work out in the private practice setting or in a clinic or a nonprofit. But they have a clinical supervisor that they can turn to to discuss clients and cases and get advice or support those kinds of things. So I am Nate’s clinical supervisor. So if you’re looking for help and you like the cut of Nate’s jib, it just just for fun. I love a good turn of phrase. And I use that one from time to time. The cut of one’s jib fun fact that is a nautical reference. In the 17th century, the shape of the jib sail was often what I identified a boat’s nationality. So hence whether it was hostile or friendly. If you saw the Jolly Roger or the skull and crossbones coming at you in the middle of the ocean, well, most likely you’d report to the captain that, in fact, you did not like the cut of that ship’s jib.

[00:01:26] But anyway, that term was being used figuratively by and I think it was like the 1400’s to express a like or a dislike for somebody. But I like the coordinates, a jib. So if you like what Nate is offering, you can contact him through the contact form on my website, Tony Overbay Dotcom to see about working with him. And we do reference my online pornography recovery course, the path back a couple of times in this episode. So if you are interested in more, you can head over to to learn more about that. And before you hear the music come in, if you’re struggling to find a counselor or therapist in your area, but you’re ready to get help processing or dealing with challenges in your life, then please do go to virtual couch for 10 percent off your first month services of online counseling. intake process is really easy and they will have you speaking with or emailing with or texting with or zooming with a therapist who can help you with a variety of challenges from anxiety and depression, those sort of things that you might be struggling with. And if you don’t feel like you’re connecting with your therapist, makes the process of switching a therapist very simple. So you owe it to yourself to at the very least, give counseling a try. And if doing it online is the way to make it happen for you, then by all means go to virtual couch today. So let’s get to this episode on talking about attachments and and addictions, betrayal, trauma, all of those things with Nate Kristiansen.

[00:03:03] So, Nate, we’re back.

[00:03:07] Yes, how are you doing?

[00:03:08] I’m doing great. I’m seriously giddy and excited. We are sitting beside each other and we are recording a podcast again. I ran the one of the best of episodes on the Ten Commandments of Depression. Right. And you get people that are saying they heard you on the virtual couch and you better say yes right now.

[00:03:24] I think just people that I’m related to. OK.

[00:03:26] All right. In there, they say, man, you don’t need that Tony guy. You need to venture out on your own. That guy’s a boat anchor. They say they know they love you. But I was really excited. And you are now officially your title is

[00:03:38] Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, which sounds

[00:03:41] Really cool.

[00:03:43] It’s probably sounds cooler than

[00:03:46] Nate is working. And I don’t know why I was telling Nate before. Why do I feel like I don’t want to date is working for me? I don’t like any of that. But the way the process works is when you are an associate professional clinical counselor, you must have a clinical supervisor. Yes. And that happens to be me. That’s correct. Yeah. So Nate is in an office right beside mine, which I’m just giddy about, and I get to work with Nate. We get to see each other on a daily basis. And then the theory is that what every ten clients you see in a week, I get to talk with you for an hour. Right now it is well.

[00:04:19] So we’ll have the we have our normal supervision and then you have additional hours based on how many clients I see. So the more clients I get, the more we get to see each other.

[00:04:29] So I’m very excited, which now it sounds like I’m telling to this shameless plug. Natus is open for business. Yes. So if you’re in our area, are actually doing telehealth or that sort of thing, please reach out through Tony Overbay dot com. The contact is funny. I didn’t even say or contact me directly, but it sounds like I would like all the control and I will filter through what gets the name, but I’m not really saying that. So I don’t know if you do have contact information right now or just get me through my website or anything.

[00:04:52] So I did set up the email. It’s just a Gmail. Nate Kristiansen counseling at Gmail dot com.

[00:04:58] Are there like five hundred ways to spell Kristiansen?

[00:05:00] Surely there are soldiers. So what’s your RISC?

[00:05:04] And this seems like a pretty standard one

[00:05:08] Could be sure people still do so many different ways that I’m not even sure

[00:05:12] It’s so neat. And I wanted to get together again and I want to get to the content, but I feel like I could go on and on. But Nate has joined me on my calls, the weekly group calls, and I love that group call. And so you’ve been on there for a couple of weeks now. And so because Nate has some background experience we’re going to talk about today on the podcast, and then he’s also there because there was a time to go to my son’s basketball game. Nate took over, which is really nice. And and Nate’s interested in working with the population of men who are women that are struggling with addictions, compulsive sexual behavior, impulse control disorder, that sort of thing. So it’s been really nice to have not only Nate here, but also with a lot of the skills that you bring to the table. So we want to talk about

[00:05:54] That today, right? Yes. What are we talking about? Well, I guess a quick intro. So I’m this is like a second career for me. Probably third, actually, but I’m in my early forties, so this isn’t where I started in life. But it’s kind of where I’ve ended up. I’ve struggled with, like my own mental health issues for a long time. So I was really interested in mental health. It’s kind of that stereotype that every therapist has their own problems are working out, and that’s why they’re in the field.

[00:06:18] Do it’s funny, I would hear that. And I was like, not me. I just I just feel a love of this draw. I think it was two, three years. And I’m like, oh, that was exactly one hundred percent. Yeah.

[00:06:28] Eventually you’ll find some skills in the closet, you know,

[00:06:32] Where there were quite a few.

[00:06:34] Yeah. So anyway, I recently completed my coursework at Northwestern University and thank you, Tony, for accepting me as an associate. I’m super excited to learn under somebody that really knows the ins and outs of the areas that I’m hoping to work with people in.

[00:06:50] And if you’ve heard Nate on previous episodes, Nate, now we’ve had a nice friendship, a good relationship, and we would win. I would I would talk to Nate. I mean, we get right into the the thick of the psychological theories and those sort of things. And that’s why when you were in college or in getting your graduate degree where I had you on a couple of those podcast episodes, and I feel like you are very comfortable with this. And so when you talk about it being a second or third career, does this feel different already?

[00:07:17] Yeah, it does, because any career job that you do, you come in usually with kind of a low knowledge base. And so you’re learning as you go. And in grad school, you do a lot of work with people in a clinical setting before you graduate, but then you have the personal experience layer. And so I have issues. I was diagnosed in my early 20s with anxiety disorder, also with depressive disorder. I think the most accurate term now in the DSM is major depressive disorder, and that’s something that’s been on and off. The anxiety feels like it’s always there. So it’s more of a management thing. And then actually, just a few years ago, I went down the road to the Aymond Clinic down in the. Bay Area, and because they’re still having some questions, what’s going on, and so they had me take a bunch of assessments and did a brain scan and congratulations, you have ADHD. Welcome to the club. Yes, thank you. Very excited to be in.

[00:08:13] And it’s funny I forget that you have been to the Aymond Clinic because I talk about that constantly. I mean, that brain scan technology is fascinating to me. And I love the fact that you came away from that with the brand new and exciting diagnosis, because it was what led me down my own path was working with a client that got a brain scan and he showed the scan. And this Dr. Amena there had circled an area of the brain and said, basically, there’s your ADHD. And I thought, that is fascinating. And then I thought about eight other things at the same time.

[00:08:42] Yeah, yeah. So that’s my. Well, and I guess the other issue that we will talk more about is I’ve struggle with addiction. And so thankfully things are really come together for me in the last couple of years have been able to really move past these addictions and experience sobriety for the first time in 20 plus years. And my mental health is is finally in a really solid place. And and so that’s why I’m excited to be here and do this. It’s definitely something that I’m I know you’re passionate about. I feel really passionate about.

[00:09:15] And I feel like that’s the thing where I was going there, too, of does this feel different now? And it’s one of those I didn’t realize what I didn’t realize in my previous career in computer software that it felt more like I’m checking a box and I’m just doing a thing. And now this is where, man, I love it and I can’t wait to work with clients and come to work. And if you are struggling with any of the things that needs talking about and are thinking about seeing a therapist, I really would love for you to keep your eyes and ears open or mind open, as you hear, because I feel like one of the things that we talk about often is you need to have a good fit with your therapist. And and I find that a lot of people that will resonate with something, maybe for the first time they’re hearing it on a podcast. And I really want people that are listening to take that as a cue to reach out and maybe get some help. And if it’s Nate or whoever it is, yeah, let’s deep dove into where we go in today.

[00:10:06] Yeah. So I brought in some material which was actually my capstone project and my capstone project was on attachment theory and how attachment theory intersects with the idea of addiction. And I was particularly looking at compulsive sexual behavior. I don’t know how much you’ve talked to on your podcast. Within the clinical world, there’s a lot of debate going on about whether or not sexual behavior should be classified as an addiction, as OK.

[00:10:33] Yes. And it’s funny when you go first, because I do a little bit with this and it’s interesting and we continue to make it about myself. But when I even started the virtual couch, it was the talk about my path back pornography recovery program. And but then I realized quickly I didn’t want to be pigeonholed into just talking about it. But I’ve swung so far to the other side that I don’t talk about it enough. So, yeah, so talk about that. Is it an addiction

[00:10:55] Or so I don’t know, getting into my own past and my own issues. I’ve had multiple like truly what are considered addictions and conquering those were a big challenge. But I can tell you, looking specifically at pornography that felt every bit the addiction that any of the other addictions do. And I understand that from a clinical setting, especially for sex therapists, they want to keep that window open. A lot of what I read when I was putting together my paper was they weren’t ready to say it was an addiction. And it almost sounds like when you read differing opinions that different people in that same field could feel very different about it, depending on who you talk to.

[00:11:39] Yeah, and I totally agree. And I have. So where I’ve gone with this is and I’ve even been very clear about now calling my pet back program a pornography recovery program instead of a pornography addiction program. But I want to meet my client wherever they’re at. So some people feel like that label of addiction is really heavy and it’s shaming and which can even make things worse. But I also found people that they say, no, I need to know that this is a thing in order for me to feel like I can get help for it. But lately I’ve been talking a lot about the concept of impulse and compulsion. And just simply, when you look at compulsive sexual behavior or impulse control disorder, that in a nutshell, a compulsion is premeditated and then an impulse is not. And so I’ll talk often about you can especially with things like turn into pornography as a coping mechanism that people can get the compulsion maybe under control, so to speak, and then they can still find themselves the acronym Hault, hungry, angry, lonely, tired and maybe fall prey to an impulse and then act out, relapse, have a set back and then beat themselves up. And sometimes I feel like the brain’s just waiting for that so it can jump back on and say, OK, can we start doing this again, can we get the dopamine fix and that sort of thing. But what I love is that your paper and you though, really dig deeper and look at the attachment piece to that. Yes. OK, so that’s why I’m excited to talk about that, because, again, the. Recovery programs or or those sort of things are wonderful, but I really do believe that if you want to if you want to get to the core of this, this is very good. A really good counselor therapist is going to be worth their weight in gold because it’s it’s not just about when I feel triggered. I do some push ups or I sing a song or that sort of thing. We’ve got to figure out what are some of those unmet needs.

[00:13:17] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I totally agree with that. And that’s I think one of the pieces I really like about the path back is it gives you like a clear direction of things that you can not only explore within yourself the self awareness piece, but also the tasks that you can do in order to. They’re obviously based on values and things like that to get you towards going towards the direction that you really want to be in. I’m going to commit the cardinal sin right now and quote something that I can’t that I don’t know who said it. I found it when I was writing my paper and I lost it and I couldn’t find it again. But I know what they said. It was in a research paper and it was beautiful. And they said and because of what I was doing at that point, as I was researching how attachment relates to addiction generally, not necessarily just compulsive sexual behavior, but just addiction generally. And what this researcher said was people don’t have an addiction problem. They have an attachment problem. And I thought, holy cow, OK, there’s so much here. What am I going? I was just getting into that rabbit hole. So I don’t know if you have any thoughts about that, if you would, in your.

[00:14:20] Oh, OK. So that is awesome. I wanted to quickly I wanted to say I said that. Oh. But I’ve been through I mean I really do that but but I feel like that so and this is not supposed to be an ad for the path back I promise. But I can make it an app for my book. And I feel like this is the part where I really feel like when I started working in this area that it was more about the behavioral mechanisms to overcome turning to pornography. So it was. So when you have a thought, you just need to do this or you just need to do this. And I was trained a little bit in that and then I felt that is just not holding water. And so I what I call these five voids that when people feel like they aren’t connected in their parenting or their marriage or their faith or their health or their career, that then they turn to a coping mechanism. So like pornography. So then I feel like then when you start looking at how to become a better parent or a better in your relationship or your career, then all of a sudden at the core of those is attachment, which is right of how do I show up to get my needs met? And then we get some nice abandonment side issues there. And I love everything about what you’re talking about, but back to you.

[00:15:29] Yeah, I know. So attachment is super fascinating. There’s a few different ways to view attachment. I divide divided. It is simply as possible. There are different terms that people use. So when I broke attachment up, I had secure attachment, which is the positive attachment that we want everyone to experience. So you hopefully had a good childhood with parents that were attentive, that help you help meet your needs, that maybe denied you some things that you shouldn’t need, because also a part of attachment is understanding boundaries and differentiation, which is the idea that this is where I start and and where you begin. So we’re not overlapping too much. Then we get into the other parts of attachment, which this is where problems start to come up. One is defined, are known as anxious attachment, one is known as avoiding attachment, and the other is sometimes called avoidant, anxious, anxious, avoidant or mixed attachment as some combination of the the two. And what we tend to see is people with each of these attachment styles often have similar experiences at some point in their life and often when they’re young. So the program that Northwestern I went through was psychodynamic. And what that means is we’re highly focused on what happens in early childhood experiences. I know you’re really big to act and I love act.

[00:16:46] But what’s funny, though, you say this is it is funny because I remember. Yeah. And I do love act and bring yourself back to present and those sort of things and turn to values. But those are all determined by your childhood experience. Right. And I remember I was going to come out and be the therapist that was going to just deal with the present until you literally start working with clients. And then it’s OK. We got to go back to the past.

[00:17:05] Yeah. And to me, act is like the if you’re going to make the Disney movie, it’s frozen because it’s a let it go. You have an emotion show up and then you just kind of let it go. But there’s some beauty to that because even in work as a psychodynamic therapist, when you’re working with someone and they’re stuck in something about their past, they can’t change and they also can’t let it go. They’re not able to progress.

[00:17:28] And that’s a very good point, because I do feel like and I think my wife has brought great awareness to me where I do maybe because I love ACT so much and I’ve seen it change people’s lives, that then where I’m saying, oh, it’s normal to have that thought or feeling or emotion. And that’s cool. Right? So now just make room for it, acknowledge it, don’t fused to it. Move toward Value-Based Goal, in essence, let it go. And I do feel like people are like, yeah. And then like but what if I can’t. Right. And so now here comes back to attachment psychodynamic going to figure this out.

[00:17:58] Ok, so with attachment theory, I really identify strongly with anxious attachments, so anxious attachments come typically when a young person doesn’t have consistency from their primary caregivers. And by consistency, what I mean because no parent is perfect. Right. So what you have is you have parents that are maybe with one hand loving you and with another hand maybe acting violent towards you. So what you end up having is they don’t know if they’re coming or going with their parent. Now, that’s not to say that parents always have to be perfect, but parents that are better at apologizing when they do something wrong, that are better at changing and allowing children to see them change, parents that are better at acknowledging their faults. Those seem to help with those kind of attachment wounds. Parents that are this is your fault. I’m only doing this because of you. And then five minutes later, they’re loving on them like it never happened. It never gets brought up. Sometimes that’s really what we’re talking about. We’re talking more of

[00:18:59] A lay down on the couch while you do this, because I’ve always identified as anxious attachment as well. And then I feel like when that shows up into adulthood, it really I love how you said it’s like I really don’t know if I’m coming or going or where I stand. And so then if I feel like my wife is if something’s off, then I’m like, it must be me, right.

[00:19:16] Right. So we internalize things. Sometimes what you see is a pattern with people with anxious attachment. And this is not always true. But if you think of attachment, a spectrum on one end, someone being highly anxiously attached on the other one, some. So not being actually attached at all, the closer you get to the end of the spectrum where someone is highly anxiously attached, you tend to see more and more people with a low self-image and you tend to see people that are seeking they have more of a positive or hopeful worldview, hopeful that the world can help the help tell them they’re OK.

[00:19:48] Ok, so can you see the tears in my eyes, as you say this, are they typically about five foot eight bald the set? I mean,

[00:19:55] I’m six foot ball anywhere between there. OK, yeah. So that’s typically what we’d see from people that are anxiously attached, shifting over to people that have more of an avoidant attachment. Typically what you see with people that are buoyantly attached is they would come from childhood homes where they didn’t they were neglected. They weren’t necessarily given much attention. And sometimes they’re very independent, but they really struggle with incorporating emotion because no one really train them. They never really learn. They never really saw or maybe they just saw at a distance. And when they get older, they struggle to know what to do with any kind of emotion. If you look again on the spectrum example, someone that’s very far to the to that attachment of being avoidant versus the other side being not very avoidant, someone that’s very, very avoidant in their attachment might resemble someone that you could classify as a narcissist. OK, they really struggle to hear when anyone offers any kind of criticism, even if it’s constructive and positive, they have a difficult time taking responsibility. They tend to just do their own thing and feel like they’re fine. They have more of a positive, like maybe even over accounting for for what they actually are. Or really a grandiose perhaps. Yes. Yes. So a really high positive sense of self. And they tend to view the world in a negative way. So they’re like everything that’s wrong in the world is outside of me.

[00:21:21] I’m good. And I can give you a perfect example of this. Hopefully my wife will forgive me this because she was telling me the story. So she has someone that that that’s that’s been in her life for a long time. And this person did something that she didn’t love. And so she sent them an email and let them know, hey, this is what happened. And I don’t think this is trying to smooth the situation out, share how she felt while also getting to see the person was willing to maybe change. So it didn’t happen again in the future. And the person’s response to her was, I don’t make mistakes, boy. So she was like, OK, that person just shut the conversation down. And they’re not even willing to consider the fact that they may have done something and maybe not even intentionally, but they did something that was problematic for someone else. The sad part when you get into these highly emotionally attached people is because they have such a hard time with self-awareness, because they struggle with that emotional component of feeling there’s something wrong with them. Like that’s that’s their strategy. Yeah. I’m not going to allow anything to tell in the world to tell me there’s anything wrong with me. They really have a difficult time improving themselves in certain areas because they just don’t feel like there’s anything wrong.

[00:22:34] So they take no accountability. And what’s fascinating, so I talk about gaslighting often, and I read once that gaslighting is a childhood defense mechanism in childhood. If I admit that anything is wrong, then I may be booted out of my home. There’s abandonment and abandonment equals death, and so I will. And so when that pattern has always, literally always been there of I’m not going to I’m not going to admit to anything, then I learned stall, I learned to turn it back around and somebody learn to get overly emotional so that I can get out of a situation, I learned to control it with anger, but anything other than take responsibility. Right. So I appreciate. Yeah.

[00:23:09] So anyway, and then the mixed attachment style is people who vacillate between the avoiding peace and the anxious peace. Generally speaking, those are considered relatively rare, like five to 10 percent of the population. And it’s the hardest to try and treat. But those are all areas that relate to compulsive sexual behavior. People with anxious attachment are more likely to engage in sexual behavior with multiple partners because they’re constantly worried that somebody is going to drop off. So they got plenty in their back pocket. People that are avoidant are more likely to engage in paid sex or in pornography. They want control of the relationship. And then obviously people that are mixed are going back and forth. So it may not look like obviously one or the other. It might be all of the above that they’re engaging in. So that takes us back to the compulsive sexual behavior piece. So my paper, which and this is where it becomes a very tough sell. My paper was if someone is in a relationship and they are discovered. What then does do both parties do if they want to try and continue the relationship, because what you have is you have a broken attachment already in one party. Then you now have a damaged attachment and betrayal, trauma in the other party that just discovered this. So how do you fix that? Yeah. So I’ll I’ll throw this at you real quick. What do you do in this kind of a situation?

[00:24:38] And so this is where I have I go back to those identifying those voids and then in this scenario. So someone is definitely going to not feel connected in their marriage. Yes. And so I don’t know if you did you you didn’t in your program. There wasn’t a lot of couples.

[00:24:53] No. So clinical counselors are more specific to individuals. So I can actually see couples because I’m working under a marriage and family therapist. You and you can give me supervision on that. But if I were to not take additional coursework and not get enough hours under you and get licensed as a clinical counselor, state of California will not allow me to see couples. OK, so there are some restrictions if I want to do that and I have to go on

[00:25:17] And I and it’s funny because I know we were talking earlier, I wasn’t necessarily aware of that. But I even feel it’s funny because I feel like the couples therapy training that I received even as a marriage and family therapist and just being authentic and real and stuff, I felt like it was more of just this reflective listening kind of a piece. And the reason I say that is because I feel like bringing reflective listening into this betrayal, trauma, anxious attachment issue. And I didn’t know early on in my career at the time is not fun. That’s right. Because it’s really saying, OK, what do you hear this person saying? All right, can you reflect that back when you hear this person saying, I feel like you would sit back and say so, is that how you fix that? And so I in part of my own work, I found E.F.T. emotionally focused therapy, which is no surprise based on attachment, and it is a framework. So when you’re saying, OK, throw it back and what do I do with it? It’s so important. I feel like they have a framework because the people are the anxious attachment once the once the validation of the therapist as well. Right. And then the avoidant attachment is probably feeling like there’s I can’t trust anybody. And I’ve heard that before. I can’t even trust this therapist. And so sometimes that can they can really hunker down in their bunker. And then the anxious attachment now naturally is going to try to go and rescue, but then also then feel like this lack of validation when that person isn’t responding. Right. And then the therapist is sitting there saying, OK, I’m not the referee. And so this framework of EFT is beautiful and I talk often. That’s the basis of my magnetic marriage course and with these four pillars of a conversation. And so I feel like it’s imperative that you find a a framework to operate from because you it’s almost like you have to get people back on to the goal of being heard not to resolve. And then you will watch attachment and abandonment wounds come up like crazy.

[00:27:04] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the other thing that I thought was important with this is it’s important for couples to understand their partners attachment style, because if you have someone that’s say avoidant and they’re trying to work on that by the worst thing you can do is constantly chase them, that’s going to push them further away. So you have to find a way where you’re able to give them space, but you’re still connecting regularly. If someone is anxiously attached by, the worst thing you can do is give them tons of space. Absolutely. Because they’re just going to feel more and more like you have to understand, like from an anxious attachment standpoint, if someone is giving you space, what they’re communicating to you is they don’t want to be around

[00:27:42] You, which then that’s where. So I had had an episode that I think I just reran it recently with Jennifer Finless. And before where I threw out that, I really felt like I had cracked some code. And in finding a pattern of a lot of the men I was working with had that anxious attachment style. And then add to that maybe a nice love language of words, of affirmation and physical touch. And a lot of the women then I was I felt like men identifying that there’s a lot of avoidant attachment and then a lot of love, language of quality time and acts of service. And then I felt like a lot of that led to is a guy feeling like seeing his wife withdrawn and then wanting to go pursue. And then when she doesn’t respond, he’s saying, OK, are you are we good? And if she’s saying, yeah, we’re fine. And then ten minutes later, she’s not jumping up and down and telling him he’s awesome and wanting to have sex with him, then he’s saying, are you sure? Is this me or are we sure you OK? And then I and then here comes I believe in that middle is exactly what you’re saying, psychological reactance of that instant negative reaction to being told what to do. So I feel like the guy is basically saying, look, validate me. Right? And I feel like that is what drives that avoidant attachment even further away. And then they are both just so far away from each other. And then I feel like, OK, now they’re in their bunkers and who is going to come out first? And I do wonder and I’m having a little bit of an aha moment thanks to you right now. So then would it be safe to say that anxious attachment when given that space, then that’s where that maybe that impulsive behavior may kick in?

[00:29:05] Yes. And so this is the fascinating thing about pornography. Covenant Eyes, who produces some software to help people, has a pretty big white paper. And I was reviewing it. Not long ago, and they talked about one of the one of the struggles with people that that compulsively use pornography is what they’re viewing is someone in the vast majority of cases that is always available for sex. Yeah. And then they start to be like, well, why can’t I have that? Well, you now have an unrealistic expectation because you’ve conditioned yourself over who knows how many years of pornography or whatever it may be into believing that that is what a relationship is when it’s not.

[00:29:43] Yeah, and it’s so funny they say that because I, I have a lot of the men that I do work with, when you really start to do a bit of an assessment around the type of pornography, the viewing, that then they almost get emotional or there’s a soft side of them says, man, I just know I’m watching. I’m look at it. It’s really about the connection or about the desire or about the. And so to them, I think that speaks to what you’re saying, where they’re feeling like this is all I need. If I just had this, I’d be fine.

[00:30:08] Well, and there’s a whole nother set of issues behind if I just had this line, because every time people get what they want and they discover that they’re not,

[00:30:16] If I only had a six pack, I had the cool car, if I had the hair plugs, that was great.

[00:30:21] Well, that’s the beauty of the human condition, which is we’re never really satisfied unless we train ourselves to be satisfied. Which takes a lot of work. Yeah. And so for me, this was all fascinating. And the reason, again, going back to the reason why this all started was was the reason I was able to finally kick this was I met my now wife and she was so open and she was understanding and she was nonjudgmental. And it got to me to a place where all of a sudden I didn’t need this other stuff anymore because I had a real person. There was a woman whose paper I quoted a few times. Her name was Annabel who Ugalde and her dissertation in two thousand nineteen, I think it was was on what she called competing attachments. And Sue Johnson, who pioneered EFT, was a big part of her putting together. And what she what she described is in life, we have a lot of different things. We attach to we attach to people, we attach to addictions. We attach to hobbies. We might attach to video. I mean, we’re attaching to all sorts of things. And what her whole premise was, is, are we giving the time to the most important attachments? Are we willing to acknowledge what attachments mean the most to us and then give them the appropriate time? Because we might say my most important attachment is my wife and then go spend five hours playing video games? Yes, well, that’s you’re saying one thing, but you’re doing another. What can we do to bring awareness to what you’re saying is your actual value and then get you to that place where you’re actually behaving that way?

[00:31:54] When I really like about that is you’re almost then asking your spouse to validate a version of you that you believe is accurate, right? That they don’t. And I’ve got to quote by this is by they would start from passionate marriage, I would say, and invariably poorly differentiated people hold on to a part of themselves that constructed the distorted self portrait. So they demand that their partner understand them, in part because they really don’t understand themselves and they feel understood, except that invalidated when their partner sees them the way they picture themselves. And then he says their partners refusal to see them the way that they want to be seen is upsetting. But the problem isn’t a failure to communicate. Their spouse can’t understand them the way they demand because they view their own behavior and the details of their life differently than their partner does. And then that discrepancy challenges there an accurate picture of themselves, which they have a difficulty maintaining to begin with. And Alison, I think that can lead to that feeling of not feeling attached.

[00:32:43] Right. And I love that because that also goes back again to that piece, though little mentioned is a big part of your path back program, which is increasing self awareness. Yeah. Like you’re saying, or you believe one thing about yourself, but are you actually doing the things to support that belief? Yeah. And so my paper really ended in the admission that the person some people would call it the resolute spouse, the person that has been faithful and has done everything that they could do to support the marriage. Obviously no one’s perfect, but tried to be there. Then discovers this betrayal and they have their own now damage their own attachment damage. Now what you have is somebody who was probably already damaged within their attachment, more than likely because of childhood experiences. Now you have someone that’s damaged in their primary relationship because of that person and like you mentioned before, with who’s going to come out of the foxhole first. Yeah, now we have this game of chicken where it’s like who’s in my in my thought process being the former addict, like, you’re the one that’s you caused the problem.

[00:33:46] You’re right. But at the same time, you still have other damage. That’s not your spouse’s fault. And I don’t know who you want to blame that on. Maybe your parents fault, maybe your own fault, maybe there’s enough blame to go around for everybody here. But the spouse is left picking up the pieces. And how fair is that? You can imagine how that person feels like I didn’t create this mess, but I’m now in the middle of it. So that’s ultimately why I I felt like this was an interesting path to go down, because I wanted to try and see if someone’s like, you know what, I didn’t create this mess, but I want to try and do what I can to fix this. How can we do that? And attachment made the most sense working on attachment for me when people have damage in their relationship due to compulsive sexual behavior, I’m a big believer that they really need some kind of couples instruction or therapy because they have to relearn some of these attachment styles or reestablish that secure attachment that’s so important to overall healthy living.

[00:34:46] And I wonder, tell me if you had this experience in grad school of when you would say, here’s my treatment plan for there are some fictitious person or a couple that it was like, OK, each one of the individuals needs therapy, they need couples therapy, they need the therapy with their animal, they need therapy, and then they get in the real world. That’s why that’s expensive and time consuming. Yes, but to your point, which I really like, is as a couples therapist and as someone who works with individuals struggling with compulsive behaviors, man, in a perfect world, you really do need both because you have to figure out your own attachment wounds to be able to show up and then not to have those often play out in a couple’s therapy setting. Now, I feel like a good couples therapist can be very aware of that. And that’s why, again, I feel like a framework is so important. But I really like what you said about the person who lets the betrayer will say in the scenario that then the betrayed all of a sudden does say, wait, I this isn’t about me. Even if there is there was some attachment wound issues they weren’t even aware of, because then I feel like sometimes the betrayer will say, well, technically there’s a little bit that I think it is, but they’re not if they say that at that point is not going to go well.

[00:35:51] Right. So I feel like that’s some of the things that need to be navigated in a couples therapy setting. But that was the where I was going. So I got a little distracted there. But so that’s the point where I feel like at times I love what you said about the guy coming out of his foxhole. The anxious attachment person in the betrayed wants to say, hey, I need you to feel how bad this hurts for me. And so you got the anxious attachment person saying, OK, I’m going to try this because I did it. You’re right. And I want to repair this attachment because I’m an anxious attachment to begin with. But now when they just start feeling that anger is what you just said right there, not now their own attachment wounds, where now they just want to go disappear again, which now you’ve got the person with the void, an attachment. It’s all fine. Leave. Oh, man. What do you do?

[00:36:36] So obviously there’s no one answer that works for.

[00:36:39] I was I was kind of going through that. You’re like always looking at me, mouth ametov like crosses next to me. Right. Because I feel like I do know I really feel like it is what I love about so funny. A shameless plug of my magnetic marriage course because it’s it’s going so well because you have to have a framework in the goal at first is to be heard. Yeah. It’s not to resolve. And I feel like that is so hard because people want to just let me get really angry at you and you take it and then you apologize and then they almost feel like then we’ll be OK. But now all of a sudden with this kind of awareness, now there’s these triggers that pop up and now people want to go back and say, well, wait a minute, you said this. And now I feel like I have to go back and look at our entire marriage and have to go make sense of everything. And the anxious attachment is saying, OK, I need to answer all these questions. I need to make sense of things. But they’re there. I think this is an answer. And then. Well, that that doesn’t go along with what you said before. And now you just you’re in the weeds with even more trauma. Right?

[00:37:32] Right. I guess if someone was like, what’s the cheapest way you could, you could do this. If you had to do therapy with somebody, I’d say probably the couples should get therapy. Absolutely. There’s support groups for both the both partners that could could go, too. And that’s probably reasonable for some people in a perfect world. Like you say, everybody get therapy,

[00:37:53] Get lots of therapy. Cost is no option. Time is open. Yeah, yeah. But I feel like we’re making fun of that. But I feel like it’s almost like saying we acknowledge the fact that I hope that people that are hearing this probably found themselves in some portion of whether it’s what their attachment style was or when they do try to show up to say, OK, I want to work on this. And and then when they’re met with. The anger, which is I understand, but then they’re going to want to go back into the foxhole and say, you know what, I’ll come out when you’re when you can be more calm. It’s like you want me to be calm. You should’ve never done this thing right. And that’s what I feel like. And you need

[00:38:28] Structure. Yeah. And that comes from the training that you get with the professional because they’re going to tell you you can be angry all you want. If you show him that anger, you’re more likely, it’s more likely that he will go and do that again. Now, that’s not your fault. He is responsible for his actions. Yes, but what is it? What is the goal? And I think, again, we’re getting back to. Making a value based goals and then deciding what actions will get us to that point.

[00:38:54] and and maybe I know we’re going to wrap up here, but maybe I’ll throw a cliche or two out here. But they are so true is that I feel like it is really important to get some ground under your tires before you do make big decisions, especially when this happens, because it’s exactly what you’re talking about. Those attachment wounds come out and they come out strong. And so it’s like this immediate. You betray me. Let me just go and make this incredibly difficult for you. So you’ll just go and get the heck out. Yeah, right. And then to the anxious attachment at times it’s look, I want to do this, but you need to be nice. But there so it gets so complicated. So I’m always a big fan of saying, all right, let’s go get help, try to not make any big decisions until you can really get something, some help in place and know that. And I didn’t. Do you have a Disney movie for what psychodynamic is? Because I would say I have no idea because I like to let it go. And that’s really funny. It is. But I feel like it is. Once you get the tools, the structure, the framework in place, it’s absolutely like you said, it’s absolutely of course you’re going to feel angry.

[00:39:57] If you didn’t, that would be crazy. And of course, the person who did the betrayal is going to feel sad and going to feel hopeless and going to feel like abandonment and all those things. If you if you didn’t, that would be crazy. Right. But then it’s learning what to do with that, learning how to even invite those feelings to come along with you to therapy and then make room expansion, make room for them and then get into a good framework with the goal for a little while, being able to just to be able to express yourself and to be heard. And that is my podcast. I have to do this. But so then plug in the magnetic marriage course, because I’ve got these four pillars I really feel are gold. They’re based off of EFT. The first one is to assume good intentions. It sounds overly simplistic, but if the partner has been betrayed, is saying, I am so angry, I don’t know if I can stay in this relationship. That’s a hard one to say. I have to assume good intentions, but I have to understand that right then that’s the only way they feel like they can get some control back or they can feel heard.

[00:40:48] And that second pillar, you can’t say you can’t put the message you’re wrong if that betrayer says, well, that’s ridiculous. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that. No, that’s how they feel. You can’t put out that message. They’re wrong. And then pillar three, ask questions before you make comments, before you say, well, look, I need you to calm down and then I’ll be willing to listen. It’s OK. Tell me. Tell me more. Tell me, tell me what you’re feeling and help me see my blindspots. And then that pillar four is and then that person cannot go into their bunker. They can’t assume good intentions, not say the other person’s wrong, ask questions. But then the piller for is they can’t say, OK, I guess I’ll just I guess I’ll never have an opinion again. I never have a voice because they’re going into victim mode now, wanting that person to come rescue them. Well, get off my soapbox. I like the OK, but we have so much more to record. This feels so good. Yeah, there’s a lot here. The boys are back. Yeah, right. Little sneak preview for anybody who’s been here who is still listening. And I hope that lots of people are talking about like your podcast.

[00:41:43] Ok, yeah. So my wife is actually in a program to become a marriage and family therapist and I have just incredible respect for her, especially after what she helped me go through. And so our intention is to start a podcast and hopefully drop our first episode next week or maybe the week after. And that’ll be something that’ll apparently be

[00:42:04] On the virtual couch network versus podcast network. You you heard it here, folks, but that. Yeah, that one. I’ve got a new podcast about waking up the narcissism. I’ve got a podcast based off of the path back that’s coming up that you’re going to be a part of. Yeah, I don’t know if I had mentioned that to you. You did, but and then if anybody did really feel like they are they like what they’re hearing. And I don’t mean that to sound like such a sales pitch, but man, I’m so excited to have Nate here and in his 40s, got some road under your tires, been through a lot of career changes, relationships, talking about addiction and has put this all together. Then your shingle is up, you’re open for business, so reach out through me. And if I don’t want to take you, then I’ll send you over to Nate, OK? Thank you so much for coming on. Yeah. And just was it really does feel good to be back. And man, you sounded smart two years ago when we recorded, but I’m a little bit intimidated now.

[00:42:54] Oh stop. OK, I appreciate everything.

[00:42:56] All right. OK. Hey, we’ll see you next time on the virtual couch

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