I’m gonna get all psychological in this blog post. I want to talk to you about something called attachment theory.
Attachment theory states that a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is critical to personal development.
What this means is that the way we bonded to our caregiver(s) determines the way we show up in our relationships…. oh shit.
That could be good…that could be, uh, not so good. The upside is that once you understand your personal 'attachment style' it can empower you to show up differently in your relationships, thus making them richer and more satisfying.
There are 4 different ‘attachment styles’.
Stay with me, I will explain.
Secure is the gold standard of relationships. These people are more satisfied and fulfilled. They feel secure and connected to their partner without having to be together all the time. Their relationships are likely to feature honesty, support, independence, and deep emotional connections.
Anxious/preoccupied are those that deeply desire relationships but tend to behave in ways that prevent that deep connection they long for.
They may feel desperate for love or affection and feel that their partner must “complete” them or fix their problems. While they long for safety and security in their romantic relationships, they may also be acting in ways that push their partner away rather than invite them in. The behavioral manifestations of their fears can include being clingy, demanding, jealous, or easily upset by small issues.
Avoidant/Fearful people generally try to avoid their feelings because it is easy to get overwhelmed by them. They may suffer from unpredictable or abrupt mood swings and fear getting hurt by a romantic partner.
These individuals are simultaneously drawn to a partner or potential partner and are fearful of getting too close. Unsurprisingly, this style makes it difficult to form and maintain meaningful, healthy relationships with others (Firestone, 2013).
Fearful-avoidants desire relationship but also tend to sabotage their close relationships without realizing it.
and the last one…
Avoidant/Dismissive people generally keep their distance from others. They may feel that they don’t need human connection to survive or thrive, and insist on maintaining their independence and isolation from others.
These individuals are often able to “shut down” emotionally when a potentially hurtful scenario arises, such as a serious argument with their partner or a threat to the continuance of their relationship.
Fascinating and informative, yes? Do you see yourself in one of these attachment styles? I do.
In fact, I know that I used to be anxiously attached. After a great deal of healing work, I can optimistically report I now function more securely.
Your current attachment style is not permanent, and it’s not a hard and fast rule on how one will behave at all times. Securely attached people can exhibit other attachment styles depending on who they’re relating to.
Being armed with this information can equip you in mate selection. Getting curious about someone’s childhood and past relational patterns can give some powerful clues into one’s attachment style.
If any of these attachment styles feel familiar to you and you genuinely want to be more connected in your close relationships, there is hope.
You can work with a therapist or coach to learn how to recode your tendency. Especially if having a deeply, intimate and fulfilling relationship is what you truly desire.
Go forth and securely attach!