Carrie Bradshaw is an anxious attacher

I haven’t had real TV in years, and then a few months back, in a fit of financial flexing, I got rid of Netflix and Amazon Prime as well. I thought this might make me a richer, more well-read person but mostly it’s made me a bored person. And that is why I lugged out my DVDs of Sex and the City and watched the whole thing again.

When I watched the entire show the first time, in the early 2000s, I remember actually forming the thought, “Carrie Bradshaw is really healthy. Look at how she says what she needs in a relationship.”

The fact that I had that PREPOSTEROUS THOUGHT kind of makes me feel smug now, and incredibly healthy about relationships, even though I am not in one. I can’t wait to be 70 looking back at my current preposterousness.

Because since the early 2000s I’ve learned many things, chief among them that there are three types of love relationships out there: There are the secure attachers (who smugly wondered why I didn’t “just leave” my last relationship and never look back).

There are love avoidants, who think they want to be with someone and then once they are have affairs, or emotional affairs, or they work too much or play too much golf or look at porn or ANYTHING but be present in the relationship. There’s always some outside intrigue. I remember when I waited tables in the ’80s, and a dad brought a portable radio to dinner to listen to some sporting event while the family ate. That there was a love avoidant.

Love avoidants are always drawn to anxious attachers, which I finally figured out I am. I was married to a secure attacher, and as a result felt (A) secure but (B) became something of a love avoidant, which can happen. I always had something else to do, mostly read and then when I started doing this, blog.

Secures stay secure and meet other secure attachers, but love avoidants and anxious attachers are pretty much two sides of the same coin, and you can flip back and forth being one or the other.

Basically I’m screwed.

So having learned all this, I tuned back in to Sex and the City, and wow, Carrie Bradshaw. You should have stuck with Dr. G, the therapist you saw three times and gave the whole self-satisfied “I’m a solve your own problems gal” speech to.

New flash: You didn’t solve your own problems.

First she dated Mr. Big, which if you never saw the show, I need to offer the clarification that his name had nothing to do with penis size. That name was, in fact, the reason I refused to watch the show at first, because it rankled. Big was a classic love avoidant, coming on strong at first and then suddenly appearing at a restaurant with another woman like it was no big deal, even though he and Carrie spent weeks together having sex and talking.

The entire relationship, Carrie Bradshaw was nervous. Can I leave a toothbrush at his place? Why won’t he say I’m “the one”? Why can’t I meet his mother? Will he say “I love you”?

They broke up, and she did nothing but obsess about the next 20 men. She dated a bisexual man she was nervous about. “If you saw a hot guy, which of us would you pick?”

Then there was a steady-seeming man whose stuff she went through the minute he left her alone in his place.

Then she picks the guy early in recovery (and she says terribly insensitive things to him, such as, “I hope to be an alcoholic myself one day”), which is the perfect love avoidant person to pick. Eleven months into sobriety? Oh, sure! He can focus on you!

Finally she meets Aiden, who is clearly a secure attacher and perfect and we all love Aiden, and what does Carrie do? She becomes a love avoidant. She starts sleeping with Mr. Big, who is cheating on his wife because HE’S A LOVE AVOIDANT and that is what they do.

I am fairly certain the people who wrote this show didn’t know about attachment theory. They were probably writing from their own life experiences as anxious attachers/love avoidants. I can’t imagine that secure attachers make good romance screenwriters. “They met at 19, they fell in love. They married and one of them died at 86. The end.”

Carrie Bradshaw is constantly being scared of what terrible thing is going to happen next in her relationships, or if certain things mean he doesn’t really love her. It’s exhausting to watch once you know what’s up. You just wanna tell her to get her mind on something else and stop obsessing.

And in case you watched the show and wonder about Petrovsky, he did the same love avoidant behavior: come on strong at the beginning, and then get obsessed with his work and ignore her. And she’s just waiting around in $20,000 dresses for him to notice her. My entire youth was me waiting around in $20 sundresses from The Limited, but it’s the same idea.

So that’s my observation for today. I couldn’t help but wonder what Carrie and Big are up to now, as middle-aged love avoidant/anxious attachers.

I can’t. I’m sorry. Don’t hate me.

63 thoughts on “Carrie Bradshaw is an anxious attacher

  1. So well written! It also explains why I get frustrated with a lot of romcoms – a good thirty minute chat would just sort this out guys. Do you think that the prevalence of tumultuous relationships in TV and films contribute to what people think of as passionate vs dull/in a rut? I ask as somebody who married the boy I dated from 19 years old and many friends told me to break up or my life would be boring.

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  2. I’m sorry for being a smug asshole and asking why you didn’t just leave. I’m afraid I was a smug asshole to another online friend with a similar smug asshole question and both of my smug assholeries bother me to this day.

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  3. So interesting! I realized after awhile that if the characters in Jane Austin books would just have a conversation the whole thing would be a 30 minute movie. Also? Jumping several subjects, I’ve been watching a Few Good Men and have picked up Demi’s speech pattern. Anoy.

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  4. Great post, June. I thought SATC was a hoot. I never caught on to Carrie much and detested Mr. Big from the first moment; never trusted him. I was mostly interested in Miranda and loved her story line.

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  5. Thank you, June for such a thoughtful post! I thought Griff’s comment was funny, although I don’t think he meant for it to be. That’s okay. I haven’t read the actual literature, but I feel like I am a secure-attacher, but I might not be. I know at one point in my life I was definitely an anxious-attacher. I loved SATC, but I haven’t watched for years. I also agree with Texas Kari–a new bra is in order.

    Lovely post, lovely June!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I never really watched SATC either. I have pretty much given up on relationships too. Or even dating. or any of that crap. I can’t even hire someone to do my yard. Sigh. The last “relationship” I had was such a travesty. A resurrection of my so called High School sweetheart. That is what he thought but I hadn’t really thought of him in all those years. Still – yes I bought into it. It was fun for about 10 minutes. Then it took 5 years of agony to get my life back to a lower level than before he came along. Good grief. No more. The first man in two years I looked at with even a sliver of interest was in the checkout line buying bags and bags of Skinny Pop popcorn. I was not really interested – just curious as to why he bought all that. And he said he was “hooked” on it… So that was the end of that. lol I love living alone. It is the best and easiest way to have a very peaceful existence.
    But if you find someone out there, June – maybe you should go for it as you are still a kid! 🙂

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  7. I was in a relationship for several years with a guy who started out as a love avoider while I was the anxious attacher. I would jump through burning hoops for him while he treated me like an afterthought. He dumped me by sneaking out of my bed in the middle of the night on Valentine’s Day and leaving a “Dear Jane” note on the pillow. 6 months later, he came crawling back and then the roles reversed. He became the anxious attacher and I became the love avoider. This went on for another year before I finally put him out of my misery. A few weeks later, I met a guy at a party who did not make much of an impression on me but I agreed to go to dinner with him. We’ve been married for 30 years now and are both secure attachers.

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  8. Great analysis of the show using attachment theory. I always loved SATC because it was a fairy tale about living in NYC. I was born in Brooklyn and there were times I would walk the streets of Manhattan with my high school boyfriend and dream of living in the Village.
    When SATC premiered I was living a whole different life in Nebraska, not even near a city. My boyfriend at the time said he loved to watch this show with me and would get upset if I watched it on my own. Yes, that boyfriend was my Mr. BIg who floated in and out of my life till I put a stop to it 12 years later. We had a good run. I loved our life together. We traveled, skied, and had a dog together.
    He would break up with me and then call me up a few weeks later and get back together. I was a single mom so I kept my dating life and my son’s life separate as much as I could because Mr. Big seemed jealous of the time I spent with my son.
    I finally let go of Big at the 12 year mark (slow learner) when my mom died. Big had never met my parents because they lived 1200 miles away and he did not come with me to the funeral. When he picked me up at the airport all he could talk about was the wedding he went to that weekend. She was the ‘one’ who got away so he was sad. My heart was breaking because of my mom but he wanted to talk about someone he hadn’t seen in almost 10 years who he was still in love with. That was it for me.

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  9. I watched reruns when I stayed up late with fussy babies. I too found the women in that show terribly shallow, but it was also entertaining. I missed the whole Aidan thing. No idea why she wouldn’t want to stick with a guy like that. I feel like I did not miss anything now that you have brought me up to speed. Thanks!

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  10. I never watched SATC. Very interesting analysis of the characters on the program. This is another educational post, because I had never heard about the various behavior types until you educated us on this here not blog.
    PSA: today is National Vinyl Record Day, get out your records and play away.
    Griff’s reference to a Georgia vs Florida type football game just cracked me up. It’s just a huge cocktail party in Jacksonville each year.
    Tee

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have never seen a single episode of SATC. Only a few snippets here and there. I know a lot about it somehow. Kind of like how much I knew about Star Wars from my little brother.

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  12. Excellent analysis. Things like this have bothered me about the show too, but I never really tried to out my finger on it. Now it all makes perfect sense.

    Also. There was very limited selection of movies on a recent flight so I picked the Sex and the City movie. The first one. Completely carrying on the attachment theory stuff. It rankled how they bought an apartment, then had to find a problem, stay apart the how movie, then magically wind up together…again. part of that is for plot gain, as you said secure attachments are boring, but it still kept with their abusive cycle.

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  13. I watched all of Sex And The City and the two movies as well. They could not afford all that stuff but it was brilliantly written eye candy escapist fluff. What was not to like? My husband even liked it, but with all the sex of course he did.

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  14. I think I was an anxious attacher and have turned into a love avoidant. I think.
    I think I’m every other relationship in my life I’m a secure attacher but not so much in my marriage. Hmmm.

    I have never watched all of Sex And In Of By the City. I have so many newer shows I want to watch I’m not sure if I ever will watch SAIOBtC.

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  15. Now I’m mad at myself for giving my SATC DVDs to Goodwill. I always found Mr. Big was so attractive. Maybe I should follow that link to see what type I am. I think I used to be an anxious attacher, but I’m not sure now. I know I dated a love avoidant right before I met my husband. I think my boyfriend of many years was also a love avoidant. He cheated, was always busy with hobbies (and addictions), blamed me for his problems, etc. My mother adored him. (eye roll) I wonder where my relationship issues began…

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  16. I only ever watch SATC when I’m in the kitchen doing meal prep and it’s on rerun, so I’ve never seen every single episode. But truthfully I don’t think any of those women were realistic so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I kind of enjoy their ridiculous antics and expensive Cosmos.

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  17. Funny how people interpret things differently. I’m thinking that guy with the radio may have made a huge sacrifice of not watching one of the most important sports events of the year and just listening to it on the radio so he could take his family out to dinner. You say “some sporting event” like it was a regular season baseball game, but it may have been the World Series or a Georgia vs. Florida–type football game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In that case he wasn’t actually giving up time to be with his family. Because physically present doesn’t mean ACTUALLY present.
      If it truly was an important sporting event he didn’t sacrifice it for them, he just changed his venue.
      I’m a sports person so I wouldn’t give up something important like the World Series either, but going out and taking a portable radio was definitely more of a “fiiiiinnnneee…I’ll go if I have to. But I won’t enjoy it!”

      Liked by 1 person

    • I LOVE college football – and I’m a loyal Gator – but even I’ve missed many Gator games for family! For YEARS, I was the only one who would watch football but still missed games when I needed to. Now, since Auburn has gotten a team again, my husband is now glued to the TV for his alma mater, missing family things left and right! It drives me insane. He didn’t care about college football for years and years … but now can’t miss it. GRR.

      Anyway, I think you nailed why there was a part of me that was so unsatisfied watching SATC. Her decision making DID drive me insane. I loved Mr. Big but that’s also b/c I HAD a Mr. Big in my life at the time but we definitely did not end up happy ever ever!! Another great post, June!

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  18. Lovely post. I watched every episode when it aired and have all the DVDs as well. When I’m sick all I want to do is sit around and watch those DVDs. When it first aired I thought they were so glamours and wonderful and now when I watch I think about how they can afford to do all the things they did. Have you had a drink in Manhattan? It’s at least $25 per drink!

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  19. I’ve thought a lot about those attachment types since you first mentioned them.
    I can’t decide what I am. Or what my husband is. But I feel like I wish we would have someone tell us and fix us.

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    • I am an anxious attacher and my late workaholic husband was a love avoidant. When he got cancer he was less of an avoidant but then he died. Life sucks, then you die. Sorry. I was happy to be married but when he worked way too much I had an affair too. Can you be mixed, June? We DID seek counseling. She loved him, disliked me. He reminded her of herself, I reminded her of her ex. Can you say transference? OY, she was my counselor to begin with too.

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  20. I find the relationship type thing fascinating. I think I have been all three at different points of my life. If that is even possible. I am now in a secure relationship but I’m not sure if I would get married again if I end up alone at some point. Thought provoking post, June.

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    • I agree, I think we can be all of these at different times in life. Sometimes life overtakes love. Kids, jobs, sick parents etc. I have had jobs i could do in my sleep, and jobs that became a career and required way more time and effort, during that corporate climb, my love life suffered and I did not care. At other times, my love life was most important.

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  21. Is that Mr. Big behind Carrie in that photo? He’s Jon on A Million Little Things, which is a terrific show!

    I never watched Sex And The City but I do see your point about not trying if past relationships didn’t make you happy. There’s no rule that says everyone has to be in one.

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  22. I’m fairly certain that I’m a Secure Attacher (maybe that’s wishful thinking) although I went through a few years with a Love Avoidant that absolutely turned me into an Anxious Attacher. “I don’t want to have any more children and you deserve to have children (I didn’t want children).” And now he’s married to a MUCH younger woman and they have a baby. I’m married now and my husband is an Anxious Attacher (he was married to a Borderline Personality Disordered Love Avoidant for years so WHO could blame him?!) But the longer we’re together he seems less anxious and more secure. I’m an Anxious Attacher when it comes to my cat but who isn’t?!

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  23. Lovely post, Coot.

    Should I stray with Big who treats me like I don’t exist and makes me miserable or should I stay with Aiden who thinks I hung the moon? Let’s see what would a smart, well-adjusted woman do? I know! I will do the opposite of that. Carrie could have been writing my life. I was with a Love Avoidant and I was an Anxious Attacher. It was drama-filled and awful. I was always anxious and needy.
    Then I did a butt load of therapy and work on myself. I am now with a Secure Attacher and I have become a Secure Attacher. My life is drama-less. It is wonderful. We are symbiotic. We can have a disagreement without the angst and fear he will leave me which would make me cling more which would make him avoid more.
    I said that dear June because an Anxious Attacher can become a Secure Attacher. I hope you find a peaceful non-angst filled relationship.

    Also and too, I love Carrie’s hair. I covet her hair. My frizzy fuzzy mess is envious of her carefree tresses.

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    • My problem is, if it IS a problem, is the longer I am single, the more I look back on all of my relationships and think, I was almost never happy. Why try again?

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      • Just because the rest were wrong, doesn’t mean the right one won’t come along. You know now what to look for in who you want to be with. Don’t try, just let it happen, if it does. Be open to it. No need to decide not to try again. Wait till it comes up , then decide if he is right for you and you for him.

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        • Yes, I see what you’re saying, but my whole day is going to work with men decades younger than me, then going straight home to cats. There’s little chance I will ever meet anyone, anyway, so.

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          • There was a female comedian back in the day (Rita Rudner?) who had a line I adored. She would say I want a man in my bed just not in my house. I lived that life for quite a few years and it was really very nice. I could do as I pleased but had the benefits of someone who would come fix the plumbing, or set and empty mouse traps.
            I think Jill Conner Brown was the one who said every woman needs 5 men in their life. One to fix things, one to pay for things, one to dance with, one to talk to and one for sex. Four of the five can be gay.

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            • That is fucking brilliant. My boyfriend is a good man but dammit, if we could live in separate houses on the same property, that would be so nice.

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            • Are you talking to me? Were you gonna fix me up with your brother? Or is this on the thread of my blog and since I’m in email I can’t see said thread, Right, said thread, and now you’ll have to set me up with your brother when you’re really talking to, like, Sandra right now?

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              • Yes, June, I offered my brother after things got better in your life. You now seem to me to have moved on and are living your life for yourself. My brother is getting ready to retire at 59 . He is planning on golfing in Florida after he retires and just living his best life.
                Maybe I should talk to Griff instead.

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  24. Very interesting post, June! We were poor and didn’t have hbo in the years SatC aired, so I never saw it. What I DO know is that based on the photo above, Carrie needed a new bra.

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  25. Don’t I recall you watched Grace and Frankie? And, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? (Who autocorrect wanted to cal Mrs Nausea.) When the new seasons start I’ll have to send you my account information. It’s what all the cool kids do. Or so my kids tell me.
    I haven’t seen Sex in the City. The title always bothered me. I like to think I’m not a prude. But I guess if I’m saying I didn’t watch a show because of its title I probably am. So, thanks for the character analysis. Now I don’t feel like I really missed out on anything.

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  26. Intriguing. And another thing that is interesting is how much I know about SITC having never watched a single episode. Why couldn’t I have learned important things the same way?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I remember when you first mentioned the attachment theory on this non blog and it really opened my eyes to a lot of my behaviors. So thank you again for enlightening me!

    Liked by 1 person

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