Feeling insecure about your relationship?

Feeling insecure about your relationship?

Your biology may play a role.

In polyvagal theory the “Engagement nerve” is part of the parasympathetic nervous system. This nerve is in all mammals, including humans. The following two articles propose that the engagement nerve has borrowed attributes from the flight-flight-freeze instinct responses and is now an instinctive nerve. This supports attachment theory used in Cognitive Principle Therapy [CPT] .

CPT states it is an instinct to attach to others, however, it does not come naturally like Fight-Flight, it has to be taught as well.

In terms of relations principles, is covers trust, respect, acceptance and commitment. If these are not provided by the major care givers of the child, then they become unresolved issues, which causes an instinctive reaction to repair the lack of attachment. This drive is so strong that it is the basis of selecting a partner to repair yourself. The rule is you pick a partner with the same principle weakness [eg trust], but the opposite behaviour. Eg. A partner with a trust issue, who is overly avoidant, who does not want to face the truth, will pick a partner who is overly responsible and must get to the truth at all costs. If they work together, they will both move towards middle ground and will be emotionally stronger as a couple than as individuals. As a consequence, their children should be emotionally stronger in attachment, and the blood line is stronger. The process of mating to get stronger is an instinct is all animals.

In CPT there are seven levels of attachment, based on Maslow's original 7 level hierarchy.

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The following two charts show the options of picking an attachment partner. It relates to your default personality style, after the resilience has been broken through.

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Feeling insecure about your relationship? Your biology may play a role

by McGill University [Medical Xpress 18/8/2020]

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Imagine tracking your feelings during daily interactions with your romantic partner. What would you learn? That's what approximately 100 heterosexual couples in Montreal did each day for 3 weeks during a study run by researchers from McGill University. They were interested in whether a fairly common genetic variant in the opioid system, seen in about a quarter of the population, was associated with feelings of insecurity in romantic relationships. Their results, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, suggest that, in some cases, there may indeed be a link.

The researchers discovered that, when faced with their partner's quarrelsome, sarcastic, or dismissive behavior, those with a particular variant in a gene involved in the opioid system (which is related to pain and reward), tended to feel more insecure in their relationships when their partner displayed more quarrelsome behavior than usual.

Tracking arguments & insecurity daily

For about three weeks, each partner in close to 100 Montreal heterosexual couples who live together kept a daily diary of every interaction that lasted 5 minutes of more. In it they noted their own behavior, including when they were quarrelsome, distant or sarcastic, and rated their feelings of insecurity about the relationship that resulted from these interactions. They were asked to send in the reports daily, without any discussion with their mates. Typically, each couple reported separately an average of 30 interactions a day. Those with the gene variant were identified using a saliva sample. The researchers then correlated this with diary information about feelings of insecurity linked to a partner's quarrelsome behavior.

Feeling the pain of difficult relationships

"Earlier research has shown that this gene variant is seen in insecure mother-infant attachment in non-human primates, and in feelings of social rejection in humans," said senior author Jennifer Bartz, a professor in McGill's psychology department. "But no one had looked at this gene in romantic couples' interactions as they unfold in the natural setting of daily life before. Through experiments like this one, we are beginning to gain a better understanding of the biological underpinnings of attachment, and the idea that the human attachment system may rely on the opioid system."

This work is part of a broader literature suggesting that, in the course of our evolutionary history, primitive pain-regulating mechanisms may have been "borrowed" to regulate our attachment to close others, on whom we depend on nurturance and survival. This is perhaps why threats to these close bonds may be experienced as viscerally painful.

A heightened sensitivity to difficult interpersonal events

"We know that individuals differ in how sensitive they are to negative interpersonal events within their close relationships. This research suggests that some of that individual variability is underpinned by genetic differences in the opioid system," said Ms. Kristina Tchalova and Dr. Gentiana Sadikaj, who are co-first authors on the study. "From a clinical perspective, this work suggests a potential risk factor in the relationship between social stress/loss and maladaptive psychological functioning. Future research will be needed to see whether individuals carrying this genetic variant are particularly susceptible to developing psychological problems in response to interpersonal stressors."


Romantic relationship dynamics may be in our genes

by Nature Publishing Group

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Variations in a gene called CD38, which is involved in attachment behavior in non-human animals, may be associated with human romantic relationship dynamics in daily life, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Jennifer Bartz, Gentina Sadikaj, and colleagues examined data on 111 heterosexual couples (222 individuals) who reported their social behavior—which included smiling and laughing with others, making sarcastic comments, asking others to do something or giving in—their perception of their partner's behavior, and their feelings during their interactions with one another over a 20-day period. Out of the 222 individuals 118 (65 women and 53 men) also provided genetic information.

The authors found that a variation of the CD38 gene—CD38.rs3796863—was associated with an individual's communal behavior, such as the expression of affection, in daily interactions with their romantic partner. CD38.rs3796863 has two variants (alleles): A and C. The gene can therefore be present as three combinations, or genotypes: AA, CC and AC. The authors found that individuals with the CC genotype reported higher communal behavior than individuals with AA or AC genotypes. Those with the CC genotype were also more likely to see their partner as behaving communally and they experienced fewer negative feelings, such as worry, frustration or anger than AA or AC genotypes. Those with the CC genotype also reported higher levels of relationship adjustment, including perceptions of relationship quality and support.

The authors also observed a pattern in couples: participants' own behavior, their perception of their partner's behavior and their experience of negative feelings and relationship adjustment were equally related to their partner's genotype as to their own genotype.

The findings suggest that variations in CD38 may play a key role in behaviors and perceptions that support bonding in humans.

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