The popular phrase 'if they wanted to, they would' is an overused lie circulating amongst popular social media trends and it doesn't define real-life relationship issues.
Sustaining any kind of relationship takes two people to be understanding and loving towards one another. But we still witness countless couples standing on the verge of splitting and then approaching marriage counselors to help them fix a broken bond. In a recent TikTok video, Doctor Sarah Hensley, who goes by @the_dating_decoder on the platform, touched on a sensitive topic where she broke down the "biggest lie in relationship psychology" and the different attachment styles of people.
The specialized social psychologist and relationship coach spoke about her client interactions where they turn to her when they are in a "hopeless situation in their relationship." “I have spent my entire adult life studying relationship science,” she explained, “I’ve seen thousands of clients, helping them transform their relationships.” Dr. Hensley clarified that the phrase "if they wanted to, they would" which is popular on social media through various relationship psychology content creators, "doesn't hold water."
“If they wanted to, they would is hugely untrue due to a large majority of the population having dismissive avoidant attachment,” she revealed. Dr. Hensley continued about how people form different kinds of attachment styles in their childhoods in relation to their caregivers. "Someone with a dismissive avoidant attachment style reacts to triggers through a level one flee response and a level two freeze response as their nervous system becomes activated,” Dr. Hensley said.
“They have so many subconscious wounds around feeling trapped, feeling stuck, feeling controlled, feeling incompetent to meet someone’s needs, feeling defective on the inside and are unable to express vulnerability,” she stated. She further talked about people who don't have healthy coping mechanisms. She detailed a scenario she sees often in her practice. Dr. Hensley often works with people who tell her, “I really love my partner, I really wanna show it better. I don’t know why I shut down. I don’t know why I freeze up and I just don’t know what to say and I don’t know what to do.”
She elaborates how an avoidant dismissive person’s response to being triggered is to try and get away — they freeze, then flee the scenario of conflict. “Just because one person’s trauma response is different than another person’s doesn’t make it better or worse,” she said in her video, “All insecure attachments have trauma responses that are unproductive inside relationships. People need to regulate the nervous system and heal the trauma response and learn what to do differently.”
“The brain is capable of that,” she added, “But most people do not have the right tools.” The TikTok crowd loved her take on trauma responses which make relationships difficult and left tons of positive comments as well as some criticism under the video. @selena0219 wrote in support: "Your trauma is not your fault. Your pain and fear are not your fault but your healing is your responsibility!" @theonlybelladonna addressed the phrase Dr. Hensley initially talked about: "That phrase is basically just emphasizing that if the partner wanted to put the effort into the relationship they would."
@s0fimoret commented: "I used to be very empathetic to my ex that acted like that. I thought oh he’s traumatized and I ended up with more trauma instead." @myanimalplanets added: "But what if I don’t want someone with an avoidant attachment style cause it’s not my responsibility to fix someone?" Dr. Hensley makes a great point by sharing how we need to understand where our wounds come from and it will allow us to work on our healing journey and embrace our authentic selves in a relationship.
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