Did you know that everyone has their own attachment style and once you know what yours is then you have much more successful relationships? As a Dating Coach I cover this a lot with my clients, so today I’ve put together some useful advice to help you with this topic.
Attachment theory was developed as a scale of measuring behavioral patterns within interpersonal relationships. The scale looks at the security and anxieties that each of us are faced with when it comes to bonding with other people. Basically, this scale looks at what we’re thinking and feeling, and also how we act in relationships.
There are Four Attachment Styles in Relationships
1. Secure; People with a secure attachment style are often confident in their relationship and their partners. They are often independent, but are open to expressing their affection. They are also very trusting.
2. Dismissive-Avoidant; People with a dismissive attachment style are uncomfortable with most forms of emotional intimacy. They are afraid of getting close to other people and strive to maintain complete independence. If they are hurt, they tend to pull away and may come across as cold or distant.
3. Anxious-Ambivalent; A person with this attachment style often needs reassurance. They want to know that they are valued in the relationship. These individuals want intimacy in such an intense way that they tend to move quickly in relationships.
4. Fearful-Avoidant; Although it is rare to see this attachment style, it is a combination of avoidant and anxious. A person in this category may experience confusing emotions, often giving mixed signals. They tend to push people away while also craving a stronger personal connection.
These attachment styles are the building blocks of our relationships, both professional and personal.
Formation & Influence of Emotional Attachments
The first two years are the most important when it comes to building healthy attachments. As a baby we take many influences from the world around us, so our care-givers were our greatest influence. We looked to that care-giver for safety and affection. Many of us formed our first emotional attachment with a parent/care-giver. That relationship was the beginning of how our attachments were formed. Although there are other influences throughout our lives that may have impacted the growth of our emotional attachments.
Below, we see how each attachment style was formed and what the result has been.
Those with a secure attachment style were likely supported and nurtured during their most formative years. Having support from a care-giver lead to a healthy emotional attachment, which lead to a well-balanced adult. In a relationship, they are trusting and independent. They are able to be reassuring without being over-bearing. They are affectionate without being clingy. Overall, these individuals know how to prioritize the importance of their relationship, both with their partner and themselves.
Those with an anxious attachment type were likely to have suffered an unpredictable care-giver. The care-giver may have gone from affectionate and understanding to dismissive and insensitive. This would have lead to confusion, and ultimately anxiety. Unfortunately, this followed into adulthood as these individuals tend to be clingy and over-bearing. They stress constantly about their relationship and whether or not the other individual cares as much as they do. They need reassurance. They crave intimacy. Although they may be hard to handle at times, they do love deeply.
According to Cassidy and Berlin, ambivalent attachment is relatively uncommon, with only 7 to 15 percent of infants in the United States displaying this attachment style.
A person with a dismissive attachment style was likely to grow up too fast. It is likely that the care-giver was dismissive and insensitive. Instead of providing comfort, they encouraged independence. As a result, these adults tend to be closed off emotionally. In a relationship, they are often distant and have difficulty trusting others. They are uncomfortable with getting close to other people and may try to avoid having relationships altogether.
Unfortunately, those who have developed this attachment style were likely abused during childhood. As a result, the child doesn’t know whether to trust an attachment or run away from it. In adulthood, this leads to “disorganized” attachments. In a relationship, these individuals may push and pull. They want to get close to someone, but the fear and mistrust makes them pull away from real relationships. As a result, they tend to end up in abusive situations in adulthood.
Can You Fix Your Attachment Styles in Relationships ?
Cindy Hazan found that about 60 percent of people have a secure attachment, while 20 percent have an avoidant attachment. 20 percent have anxious attachment styles in relationships
If you’re anything but secure, there is a good chance you want to fix your attachment style. It is possible, but it’s not an easy process. You have to be willing to change the way you perceive yourself, your relationship, and other people in general. You don’t have to go all the way back to your childhood and retrace every step. However, you do have to look under the surface a little bit.
There are ways you can do this on your own using Coping Skills, however, the journey may not be enjoyable and it may be easier to have company. Instead of going at it alone, you could visit a therapist and see about creating a map together. If you feel like your issues are surface-based, you may choose to enlist the help of a relationship expert.
If you are going to embark on changing your personal Attachment Styles in Relationships, make sure to have a support network. You can ask friends or family to assist, just by being there to listen.