How Your Attachment Style Can Impact Your Relationships
Exploring the type of attachment style that you have can be an excellent way to learn more about yourself and how to have better, more evolved relationships with romantic partners, family members and friends. There are three primary attachment styles that people have: anxious, avoidant and secure. Read on to learn more about how you can use attachment types to better understand yourself and your relationships.
What is attachment theory?
Attachment theory was developed in the 1950’s by a British psychologist, John Bowly. Bowly’s theory of attachment has since become a popular theory that has continued to grow and expand with new psychologists. The idea is that as we grow up throughout our lives, we develop an attachment style based on whether we were able to get our needs met as an infant and young child. The attachment style that you have is linked to the type of relationships that you seek out, both romantically and otherwise, and typically points to the types of relationship problems that you have.
If you have an anxious attachment style then you were sometimes taken care of as an infant and sometimes your needs were met. These people had parents who were sporadic in meeting their needs as infants so they received a generous amount of love, but their parents did not reliably meet their needs. Anxious relationship types tend to have a difficult time staying single, and in a relationship can fear abandonment from their partner. An anxious attachment style has a difficult time trusting their partner to be reliable and stable, and tend to rely heavily on their relationship to manage their anxiety.
If you have an avoidant attachment style then you most likely had some of your needs met on a consistent basis as an infant but other needs were never met at all. As a result, you have become the person who avoids important people in your life. You tend to be overly independent and feel overwhelmed by relationships. You are the type of person who works long hours and spends a lot of time on their own. These styles tend to have a difficult time keeping long-term relationships alive because they spend too much time away from their partner and do not give in when their partner expresses a need for more time with them. Avoidant attachment styles have an underlying fear of intimacy that makes it difficult for them to be emotionally available to their partner.
If you have a secure attachment style then you were most likely taken care of as an infant and all of your needs were met. If you are a secure attachment style then you are able to trust others, trust yourself and prioritize your most important relationships while still keeping boundaries within these relationships. Secure relationship types also tend to be loyal to their partners, but also can move on at the end of a relationship even if they are hurt by its end.
It’s Not Just One
It’s important to note that people are typically a combination of all three attachment styles. Understanding what your combination is and how heavily you lean into each option is one of the best ways to learn more about yourself and develop new ways of approaching relationships that are healthier. You can also work towards developing a more secure attachment style in therapy by gaining insight, exploring your underlying fears, and learning to communicate more effectively in your relationships.
**** Written for Meridian Counseling by: Saba Kerendian, AMFT Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT 88936)