Do you know relationships and experiences you had as a child directly influence the types of relationships you have as an adult? John Bowlby, a British psychologist, came up with the concept of attachment theory to describe this phenomenon. Although everyone’s upbringing is different, Bowlby identified four general attachment styles:
Understanding your own attachment style makes it easier to understand why you behave the way you do in relationships, which may lead to building healthier ones.
Find out what your attachment style is and how it affects your relationships.
This one is considered the best of the four. Christie Kederian, EdD, is a psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist who believes people with a secure attachment style are comfortable being independent, but they are also comfortable being easy-going as well as vulnerable. “They have a good relationship with themselves, which allows them to be both authentic, engaged, vulnerable, and independent,” says Kederian. It helps them from loving and lasting bonds where they can give and receive love and affection with clear communication.
Kederian suggests that a child will have a secure attachment style if their parents or guardians:
- Connect well with them without being too authoritarian.
- Have healthy habits Encourage your child to express their emotions.
- Express their emotions in a healthy way.
The following are some characteristics of people with a secure attachment style:
- A positive self-image.
- You feel comfortable sharing your feelings and asking or answering deeper questions.
- Your feelings do not depend on the actions of others.
- You feel comfortable being alone with yourself.
- The trauma of the past does not have to trigger you when you are facing disagreements or opposition.
People with an anxious attachment style may have difficulty feeling secure in a relationship compared to those with a secure attachment style. A person with an anxious attachment may experience low self-esteem and a feeling of not being good enough, which leads to a dependence on their partner to meet their needs and get approval,” says Kederian.
Alternatively, an anxious attachment style can develop if a child had parents or caregivers who: Weren’t consistent – for instance, Kederian suggests they may have had a caregiver who was supportive and attentive at times, but on other occasions, they weren’t there. Kederian says children who come from families with divorced parents or have experienced trauma in childhood may also develop an anxious attachment style.
This can result in early fears of abandonment or rejection which can manifest as anxiety and insecurity in adult relationships.:
- You have low self-esteem.
- You are super clingy.
- You are extremely dependent on your partner.
- You struggle with healthy boundaries.
- You have difficulty building trust with your partner.
A person with avoidant attachment also struggles to form healthy relationships. As the name suggests, people with this attachment style may avoid closeness or become vulnerable emotionally, making connecting with others difficult. Katie Rom Hisel, MA, a licensed family and marriage therapist in private practice, says: “This avoidance may be a result of fear of abandonment.”. Rom Hisel says that avoidant style can occur when a child’s primary caregiver: fails to meet their basic needs for food, shelter or affection fails to authenticate Her child’s feelings lack of empathy trauma, but severe trauma is not needed. “It is not enough to have a constant response to caregivers,” says Rom Hisel.
Some characteristics of someone with an attachment avoidance style are:
- You avoid emotional closeness.
- You avoid relying on others for support.
- You suppress your emotions.
- You can refer to others as “missing” or “in need” if they want a deeper emotional connection.
- You focus on your own needs and consider yourself a very independent person.
Disorganized attachment types are similar to avoidant attachments, but with a few key differences. Unlike people with avoidant attachment styles, people with disorganized attachment styles may initially desire to be close to others and develop intense feelings. However, because of fear of abandonment and lack of trust, they have the ability to push each other away. In these relationships, people may also find it difficult to communicate and express their needs. Disorganized attachments are often caused by childhood trauma. “If, at a vulnerable age, we learn that the people who are supposed to protect and care for us harm us, we experience all relationships from this angle. ,” said Rom Hisel.
This may include being abused (emotionally, physically, or sexually) or witnessing violence between caregivers.
Some common characteristics of someone with a disorganized attachment style include:
- You have a tense and chaotic relationship style.
- You desperately need closeness, but at the same time you also repel others.
- You feel ashamed and self-deprecating.
- You find it difficult to trust others.
- You are afraid of not being loved.
- You are always overthinking and anxious.
How to develop a secure attachment style?
It is possible to develop a secure attachment style even if your upbringing did not allow for it. As an adult, you can still make changes so you can have better relationships. healthy, fulfilling relationships in the future.
The best way to create a secure attachment style is to seek out the help of a mental health professional. According to Rom Hisel, therapy can help repair the mistaken beliefs and harms caused by abuse in childhood and create trust and healthy boundaries. Therapists do not give advice, but help you gain an understanding of your patterns of interacting with others, challenges in relationships, and how to heal to achieve your attachment and relational goals.
Additionally, you should work actively to improve your self-esteem, communication skills, and learn to express yourself effectively. Kederian says that being in a relationship with someone who has a secure attachment style can be very beneficial.
No matter what type of attachment style your partner has, couples’ therapy is always a great way to cultivate a healthy relationship.