Grace Ballard, MA, LPC, CST | AASECT Certified Sex Therapist | New York and Colorado

Being a Safe Haven and Secure Base

Being a Safe Haven and Secure Base

With Multiple Partners

 

Once you know that you want to be in an attachment-based relationship, figuring out how to do this is the next step.  Partners being a safe base and secure haven for each other is essential to being polysecure.  Jessica Fern writes more about this in her book, Polysecure

 

Safe Haven

 

A safe haven is a person we can turn to and know that they care about our safety, will respond to our distress, help us co-regulate, and are a source of emotional and physical comfort.  And we will do the same for them.  Even if we can’t be there physically, we will do what we can to support them from a distance.  

 

We want to know:

  • Will you be there for me?
  • Will you accept me, rather than judge or dismiss?
  • Will you comfort me?
  • Will you calm my nervous system?
  • Do I matter to you?
  • Do I make a difference in your life?
  • Can we rely on each other?

 

People who have safe haven relationships in their lives – whether through romantic partners or friends or family – are more resilient in the face of stress and trauma.  Even in the most harrowing circumstances, research shows that people who have someone to turn to during or shortly after the event recover faster, experience less pain, and show reduced symptoms of PTSD.

 

Here are some ways to be a safe haven:

  • Give emotional support and comfort
  • Listen with full attention
  • Inquire about and share feelings and needs
  • Keep track of what’s going on in each other’s lives and follow up
  • Help in practical ways when a partner is sick or tired
  • Discuss events of the day
  • Let your partner know why they matter to you

 

Secure Base

 

When we’ve established a sense of safety with our person, we can go out and engage with the world.  A secure base provides the platform from which we explore and take risks.  Just like children who want to show off their latest drawings and cool tricks, we also want to share our discoveries and achievements.  A secure base supports our personal growth, independent activities, and even our other relationships.  They can also help us see where we may be inflating or limiting our belief in ourselves. 

 

Ways to be a secure base:

  • Encourage personal growth
  • Support their interests
  • Listen to hopes and dreams
  • Listen when they share about other relationships (within the bounds of what feels appropriate and consensual)
  • Engage in intellectually or emotionally stimulating conversations
  • Acknowledge their capabilities and possibilities for growth
  • Compassionately bring to light their limitations
  • Offer encouragement when they take risks in new dates, work roles, or new skills

 

A benefit of nonmonogamy is that the same person does not need to provide all of this.  A partner can be more of a safe haven or secure base, offering facets of each.  We all have our strengths and it can be wonderful to have varied forms of support. 

 

While having multiple partners to provide support is a perk of nonmonogamy, it is also powerful and important to rely on ourselves in this way. 

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