- Ela Senghera
What’s Your Relationship Attachment Style?
Humans naturally seek out love and comfort through relationships. Despite being one of the leading forces driving us as individuals, relationships aren’t always a walk in the park no matter how perfect and worry-free we want them to be. Have you ever wondered why you attract certain types of people to your life or why you behave in a certain way around them? Well, it turns out this is down to your attachment style which has been developed throughout your childhood and youth. Identifying and understanding your attachment style could help you become more self-aware and help you better understand your needs. This self-awareness could help you create healthier and more supportive relations in the future.
The Attachment Style Theory was first founded by John Bowlby in the 1950s. According to Bowlby, our attachment style is influenced by our relationship with our parents during childhood. This in turn sets the stage for how you build relationships as an adult.
How does each of the four attachment styles manifest in adults?
1. Avoidant (aka Dismissive) Attachment
The Avoidant type is also known as the Dismissive type. People with an Avoidant attachment style can be identified as being independent in all aspects of life, such as physical and emotional. They prefer to not depend on others, have other people depend on them, or seek the approval of others. They don’t believe that a relationship will give them fulfilment as oftentimes they already have a positive view of themselves and are self-confident. Emotional intimacy is something this type generally avoids as they tend to hide their emotions and feelings in an emotionally-charged situation. They tend to ''run away'' from a situation where they need to express themselves, instead of speaking openly. Needless to say to someone who is seeking a transparent, mature and drama-free connection, this would present a real challenge.
2. Anxious - Preoccupied (aka Ambivalent) Attachment
The Anxious - Preoccupied type is also known as the ambivalent type. People who identify with this attachment style can also be known as Ambivalent - Anxious or just simply Anxious Attachment types. This type often feels uncertain, needy, and anxious within their relationships, as they tend to lack self-esteem. They spend lots of time looking for emotionally intimate relationships but have constant worries about other people not wanting to be with them. This type tends to feel very anxious and worried when it comes to relationships as they tend to question whether their partner really wants to be with them. This constant anxiety may lead to being embarrassed for being too clingy and always needing their partner’s love and attention. Unfortunatelly, a person with an anxious relationship style can turn out to be a very needy partner. For a person with a healthy attachment style it can be quite draining to be in their company for a long period of time.
3. Fearful - Avoidant (aka Disorganised) Attachment
The Fearful - Avoidant Attachment type is also known as the Disorganised Attachment type. This attachment type usually stems from a strong fear which is a product of childhood trauma, abuse or neglect during their early years. People with the Fearful-Avoidant attachment style often feel undeserving of the love and affection they receive from their partners. This is because of an intense fear of abandonment they have developed in younger years. This intense fear could be related to feeling unsafe in a relationship from never learning how to self soothe and manage their emotions during their formative years. The same patterns of abuse that they may have experienced when they were younger could manifest in their current relationships. It can be hard work to be in a romantic relationship with someone with this attachment style. It would be their partner's role to make them feel loved, accepted and at ease at all times. they would need to do this ''work'' continusly instead of enjoying life together or relaxing at the end of a long day.
4. Secure Attachment
Those who belong to the Secure Attachment type are not scared of forming intimate relationships and do not fear when their partners ask for space and time on their own. They are able to be independent but also depend on other people. Compared to other attachment styles mentioned above, it’s much easier for them to build supportive and healthy relationships with others. They are able to trust, love and get close to others without fear or anxiety. Having a secure attachment style does not equal having a perfect relationship or being a perfect partner. Instead, it's about feeling secure enough in your relationships to take accountability for your own actions and your mistakes. People with a healthy attachment style know when to seek help and support and they are not shy about it. This is the ''easiest'' type when it comes to forming and cultivating relationships. Being with a person with a secure attachment style doesn't feel like work but more like an enjoyable experience
Unfortunatelly for most of us things are not very black and white. This is because most of us don’t belong to one attachment group. Also, it's worth to mention that your attachment style can change over time. It’s possible for you to change your attachment style. This takes a lot of self-work, building self-awareness and cultivating healthy habits, but it is possible. You would have to make every effort to practise in a real life, but eventually you would see an improvement in the quality of your relationships and increased life satisfaction.