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Attachment/Music Blog Series – “Desperado”

In this blog series, I’m combining two of my great loves: attachment theory and music. It turns out that adult attachment styles show up in many popular and classic love songs – of every genre. Some of them represent insecure attachment styles (anxious, dismissive avoidant or fearful avoidant – also known in some circles as disorganized attachment) and other songs are written about secure attachment (the healthiest and most functional kind of relationship connection), and some will have a combination of the two.

Overview of Attachment Theory

In short, attachment theory is based on how secure or insecure we feel in primary relationships as a result of how we were “wired” to attach or bond to significant others – starting in infancy with our primary caregiver(s). Depending on how emotionally available and attuned our caregivers were to us, our nervous system response, and subsequently our behaviors indicate if we feel secure in our intimate partnerships (feeling safe and trusting, turning towards another during stress/distress, working on issues together, etc.) or insecure, which typically shows up as anxious avoidant (hyper-involved, prioritizes connection and relationship over everything else, vigilant and concerned when there is a lack of closeness, etc.) dismissive avoidant (hypo-involved, withdrawn, distant, evasive, walled off or shut down, comfortable with more space, etc.) or fearful avoidant/disorganized (push-pull behaviors, deep fear of abandonment, disorganized and confused about what s/he wants, inconsistent, self-sabotaging, etc.).

“Desperado,” was a hit song by The Eagles and has been covered by many artists since. It is a song about the quintessential love/intimacy avoidant, a tough guy loner who’s on the run from love and commitment. The song is written as an appeal to the person (assumed male) to become self aware of his behavior, what he is missing out on and to once and for all, let someone in/get close so that he can finally experience intimacy and love. I love how this song speaks truth to power in that it’s calling out the fallacy that it’s weak to let yourself be vulnerable, to love and get close to someone. It flips it on its head and says that actually it’s strong, brave and freeing to be vulnerable to love. I particularly like that it’s another male calling it out in a what seems to be a brotherly fashion. The song is lyrically and musically brilliant and an all-time classic. It’s one of my favorites, which is why I’m highlighting it in my first blog post in this series.

Have a listen here, read the lyrics below and check out my analysis of the song through the lens of adult attachment theory. (When listening, see if you can identify your attachment style in the song and notice what kinds of emotions come up for you. Does it remind you of a relationship you had/have? Which role do you find yourself in? Does it remind you of someone else you know? Does the song illuminate a familiar relationship pattern? Songs can be therapeutic and cathartic, especially when we use them with this intention).

 

Desperado lyrics

Analysis through attachment lens

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses? Become self aware about what you are really doing, your avoidant tendencies and break your habituated patterns.
You been out ridin’ fences for so long now You are a tough-guy loner who won’t settle down and fall in love, like a cowboy who’s out riding his horse around his property to make sure the fences are secure all the way around. It’s a metaphor for being very protective of himself and not letting anyone into his life.
Oh you’re a hard one, but I know that you got your reasons You had an early childhood attachment trauma or disruption from a caregiver and likely another one later in life that caused you to self-protect and you are doing what it takes to insure that you don’t repeat that kind of pain and rejection.
These things that are pleasin’ you can hurt you somehow Your ways of avoiding pain via  self-soothing and emotional self-regulation, i.e. drinking and womanizing, etc. might help you feel better temporarily in the moment, but are ultimately to your detriment.
Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy, she’ll beat you if she’s able Stop seeking the superficial, because it’s not really satisfying you and ultimately makes you vulnerable to being hurt for the wrong reasons.
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet Opening up your heart and betting on true love is a risk, but the reward is worth it.
Now it seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table Many good, honest and available women have availed themselves to you.
But you only want the ones that you can’t get But you avoided them to chase those who were not available to you, because the chase is your drug and it helps you avoid intimacy. If someone is not available, you don’t have to get close.
Desperado, woah, you ain’t gettin’ no younger It’s time to come to terms with what you have been avoiding and to accept that what once “worked” doesn’t anymore.
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home Your avoidance of love and intimacy are catching up with you and pushing you to return to your heart (your home).
And freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’ The freedom fallacy. The myth that being a loner and avoiding intimacy makes you free. A common message in a patriarchy, especially for men, who are taught that they aren’t supposed to want relational closeness.
Your prison is walking through this world all alone Ironically, your prison isn’t being in a committed relationship (“tied down”) as you’ve believed, in avoiding it you create a different kind of prison, a cage around the heart.
Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time? This life as a loner/player leaves you cold and uncomfortable because no one is really there for you and vice versa.
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine Emotionally numbing out will only dull any and all changes in the weather – metaphor for emotions.
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day Being invulnerable makes it hard to sense anything anymore.
You’re losing’ all your highs and lows Shutting down emotionally dulls the senses – avoiding lows ultimately makes it impossible to enjoy the highs and the nuances in between.
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away? Running away from love also means running from feelings, tactics to self protect ultimately numb you out.
Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?

[Credits:

Become self aware about what you are really doing, your avoidant tendencies and break your habituated patterns.

Do you have a song in mind that you think would work well in this blog series? If so contact me here and let me know and maybe I’ll write about it in an upcoming blog post.

Contact me if you want coaching on your attachment style and how to move towards secure relating.

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