NEW YORK CENTER FOR EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED THERAPY


Need Help with Your Relationship?

 

Learn about the Negative Cycle

Couples get caught in “negative cycles” or patterns of interactions. A negative cycle is a repetitive pattern of behaviors, thoughts and feelings that cause distress.  You react to your partner’s reactions and your partner reacts to your reactions and around and around it goes. Understanding and untangling your negative cycle is the first step in climbing out of distress. The exercise below will help you with this process.

When my partner and I are not getting along:


I often react by (describe behaviors)……

My partner often reacts to me by (describe behaviors)……

When my partner reacts this way, I often feel……

When I feel this way, I see myself as……

When I feel this way, I long for or need……

When I react the way I do, I guess that my partner feels……

Describe your negative cycle (include how you and your partner trigger the other’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors)…..


Attachment Style Questionnaire

Read the four types of attachment styles below. Find the one that best describes you, and then ask your partner to do the same.

  1. Secure: “It is easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I don’t worry about being alone or having others not accept me.”
  1. Anxious: “I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I am uncomfortable being without close relationships, but I sometimes worry that others don’t value me as much as I value them.”
  1. Avoidant: “I am comfortable without close relationships. It is very important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient, and I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me.”
  1. Disorganized: “I am uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others.”

This attachment style questionnaire is adapted from K. Bartholomew, and L. Horowitz, “Attachment Styles Among Young Adults: A Test of a Four Category Model.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 61 (1991): 226-44

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