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Is your attachment style affecting your relationship?

March 17th, 2014

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One of my favorite topics is relationships, so today I would like to explore the different styles of attachment that we develop during childhood and that affect all of our relationships, as adults. It is really important to be aware of what our attachment style is, in order to better understand our relationships and how our unconscious patterns may be affecting them.

attachment

There are 4 main styles of attachment that we all fall into, and that were developed during our early childhood through the emotional attachment we formed with our primary caregivers. As we become adults, we unconsciously behave following that attachment style, so every relationship we have is affected by it, especially the closest relationships in our lives, such as our partners and children, although they affect all of our relationships to a certain degree. Here are the 4 styles:

  • Secure Attachment
  • Avoidant Attachment
  • Insecure/Anxious Attachment
  • Disorganized Attachment

Without going too deep into the psychological explanation of each style (which you can find in the resources provided at the end of this post), I just want to point out the main characteristics of each style when dealing with romantic relationships as adults, as it will give you a sense of where you might be.

Secure attachment:
People who have secure attachment patterns, tend to see themselves and their relationships under a positive light, they tend to feel secure, connected and at the same time independent, they allow their partners to move freely, they trust them and they are able to stay engaged emotionally even when conflict arises. These people have a deep seated belief that they are worthy of love and caring, they do not fear being abandoned when conflict appears, they are confident that conflict will resolve and they are able to stay fully engaged and intimate during conflict. These adults are able to offer support when their partner feels distressed, and they also go to their partner for comfort when they themselves feel troubled, so they usually have very open and honest relationships.

Avoidant Attachment:
People who have avoidant attachment patterns tend to avoid conflict at all costs, they lack the skills of intense emotional engagement with another, so when communication heats up, they are usually out the door. They tend to be loners, and they regard relationships and emotions as being relatively unimportant, so they don't put a lot of effort into their relationships. They are usually very cerebral and not very emotionally expressive nor understanding. They tend to rely mostly on logic and reason to explain their behavior and they will try to "fix things" so they may experience feelings of inadequacy when their partner becomes more distressed, as they can't "fix it". They tend to be calm, reasonable and rational (shutting off all emotion). Their typical response to conflict and stressful situations is to avoid them by distancing themselves (physically and mentally), the avoidant adult will tend to do things like overworking, using drugs or alcohol, watching lots of TV or anything that will help them anaesthetize or bury unwanted feelings.

Insecure/Anxious Attachment:
People who have insecure and anxious attachment patterns often feel the fear of being abandoned, that their beloved will desert them, that no-one will be there for them. This fear of separation may haunt them anytime, whether or not there is a reason that would justify it. Deep-seated feelings that they are going to be rejected make them worried and not trusting so they may act clingy and overly dependent with their partner, as well as possessive and demanding. They’re frequently looking to their partner to rescue or complete them. These people will want to talk everything over, sometimes often and endlessly. They constantly seek approval and in doing so they tend to prioritize the needs of others ahead of self, which leaves them depleted. They tend to be self critical and insecure and often throw themselves into emotions such as hurt, despair, fear, upset, aloneness, hopelessness, helplessness, or powerlessness quite often. There is a feeling of emptiness inside.

Disorganized Attachment:
People who have disorganized attachment patters are ambivalent: they desire relationships and are comfortable in them until they develop emotionally close. They are afraid of being both too close to or too distant from others. They tend to be mixed up or unpredictable in their mood and tend to find themselves in rocky or dramatic relationships. They may cling to their partner when they feel rejected, then feel trapped when they are close. Their relationships are usually filled with highs and lows, they are afraid of abandonment and at the same time unable to be intimate.

So, if any of these styles resonates with you, you may want to look more deeply into it, especially if you are dealing with relationship challenges, as it can be very helpful to be aware of your patterns as well as your partner's in order to improve the quality of your bonds.

Below you will find a list of related articles on this topic.

Have a Good Week!

Related Resources:

How Your Attachment Style Impacts Your Relationship
What is your attachment style? (How it was formed in the early years)
Save Your Marriage By Understanding Your Attachment Style

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