After publishing Part 2 on the Bandwidth of Intimacy, I received a number of comments and questions. The answers have evolved into this third post on the topic.

One reader writes:

“Are people who are dismissive avoidant in their style of attachment more likely to exhibit a tendency to narrow the bandwidth of communication in general? And if so can this be reversed or as they tend to self regulate by emotionally removing themselves from a relationship as a form of protection, are they then less likely to truly open up in future?”

This is a great question.

The challenge here is to see that all of us have a tendency to narrow the bandwidth of communication — it just looks different, and consequently, makes it hard to see the way we do the same thing.

Someone that is dismissive avoidant will tend to pull away from the intimacy of the moment. They might close inwardly/energetically, or simply end the conversation. That’s fairly overt and kind of obvious.

This is a good strategy for when your bandwidth has been exceeded. Literally remove yourself from the moment so that you don’t have to be with it. Of course, this does nothing to support you growing your bandwidth, and instead, tends to do the opposite. If you learn to shrink away from the moments where your capacity is exceeded, your muscle to be with a certain level of intimacy will slowly atrophy.

What we don’t tend to realize is that those that have something more akin to an anxious attachment approach will tend to do the same thing from the opposite end of the spectrum.

They overload the bandwidth of intimacy by trying to push WAY TOO MUCH of themselves into the space, and then cause the person on the other side of the relationship to pull away.

Ironically, both people are shutting down the intimacy of the moment, and both approaches end up having the intimacy severed. One by being the direct cause of it, the other by causing someone else to take the action.

These are simply two different sides of the same coin.

And so, what’s most powerful is often to take our attention off of other people, and simply look at the way we, ourselves, diminish the bandwidth of intimacy. This is always going to be the most powerful thing to do, because it puts our focus on the one thing we have the capacity to change: ourselves.

A follow-up question:

“At what point should you consider giving up on trying to widen the bandwidth of someone who has pinched it off and does not want to seem to engage at a later date?”

There isn’t really a “should”, because that would suggest there’s a specific way we should be in a particular situation. These things are personal, and your journey is your journey. Ultimately it’s simply a matter of choosing in the moment what you are going to do.

What I find more powerful is to simply become more aware of the ways that I pull away from intimacy, everywhere.

As I do this, my awareness of my own ways of closing becomes more conscious, and that gives me more information from which to make a choice, when it comes time to decide whether or not I stay engaged.

As you become more aware of the times and situations where you pull away from intimacy, ask yourself what is showing up that you cannot be with. Let the other person off the hook, and really look on your side of the fence.

“I can’t be with phoniness” is a much more powerful statement than “They’re being phony, so it’s their fault”.

The opportunity here is to begin to open your heart in the face of that phoniness, and to learn how to sit in a space with someone regardless of how they are showing up. The miracle you will discover is that as you are willing to sit with people, regardless of how they show up, you’ll discover they start to find their own way back to authenticity and compassion.

And a final question:

“How do you keep shrinking contempt and keep improving the relationship?”

This is a big, and important question. In order to answer it fully, I’ll have to write a new post, so keep tuned for this one. 🙏