What’s your Attachment Style?…

Posted by on Nov 29, 2020 in Couples Counseling

What’s your Attachment Style?…

With a continuing pandemic in full blast, social distancing as a new normal and quarantined couples on lock down everywhere, it’s no wonder domestic violence is on the uprise and couples are in constant turmoil and stress.  However, if some of the issues you are having are recurring, and it seems that no matter what you do, or say, you and your partner continue to not be able to get on the same page, or see eye to eye.  It may be time to take a deeper look.  When I say deeper, I mean beyond the surface of your relationship and deeper into each other’s history. Most importantly, each other’s childhood history. 

One of the best theories that explores this is the “Attachment Theory”. Which was developed by John Bowlby in the 1950’s.  This theory states that there is a deep, emotional bond between two people in which each seeks closeness and feels more secure when in the presence of each other. It provides a safe haven, to obtain comfort and security and can be a buffer from stress. It also offers a secure base and allows one to feel safe. 

The bond that Attachment Theory describes begins in early childhood and will later be manifested in the child as they grow older and then into their natural development of adulthood.  Based on the child’s attachment bond to the parent or primary caretaker (which is usually the mother figure) the child’s attachment style will be seen first, in their social and emotional interaction with others, and then later in their adult life. There are four different types of attachment styles. They are Secure, Anxious, Dismissive-avoidant and Fearful-avoidant Attachment.

Secure Attachment:
The research states that about half of the population have a healthy, Secure Attachment style. This means that these individuals are comfortable with themselves, intimacy, and are more satisfied in their overall relationships.

This usually stems from having a healthy relationship with their parents or primary caretaker during childhood, they felt safe and protected. Their security in childhood, displaces itself by them demonstrating trust, being open, honest and having a supportive relationship with their partners. 

Secure people are better at accepting their partner’s flaws, and are responsive to their needs. They don’t engage in manipulating behaviors or play games, because their self-esteem and self confidence are usually intact.

Anxious Attachment:
Anxiously attached individuals become very unhappy and worry about being too much or too little for the person that they are dating.  Anxiously attachment individuals are usually very afraid of being alone. They tend to take everything really personally. They don’t usually live in the moment, but instead place a lot of high hopes on their partner, and get attached very quickly in the relationship. This is often because they expect their relationship to define them, rescue them, or complete them. They cling onto their partner and often create a codependency in the relationship.   

They often end up acting out in behaviors that push their partners away, which then can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, by being desperate to hang onto the bond that they have with their partners, they eventual break it, by pushing their partners away by their unhealthy behaviors. In childhood they lacked a stable attachment bond with their primary caretaker.  They do not know how to regulate and often feel pressured. Therefore, indirectly sabotaging their relationships.

Avoidant Attachment:
Avoidant attached individuals are categorized into two subgroups: Dismissive and Fearful.  
Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment individuals have the tendency to emotionally distance themselves from their partner and subsequently comes off as being overly focused on themselves. These are the individuals that tend to be selfish in relationships, they are usually not very open about themselves. They tend to avoid relationships and can come across as been dismissive to their partners.  In childhood their primary caretaker was not trustworthy, and was inconsistent in their actions towards them.

While Fearful-Avoidant Attachment individuals are afraid of being too close or too distant from their partners, which means they usually struggle to keep their emotions in check. They tend to get overwhelmed easily, and can have intense mood swings. They have a hard time regulating their emotions, because they avoid relationships, commitment is very hard for them. They are afraid that they are going to be let down, so they may ultimately sabotage the relationship.  They tend to have “situationships” instead of relationships.   In childhood their primary caretaker may have been hot and cold towards them. Leading to affect regulation issues in adulthood.  

Why are these Attachment styles important to know, in your relationship?
By becoming aware of your individual Attachment style, both you and your partner can challenge the insecurities, fears and other unhealthy behaviors that surface in your relationship.  You should have a better understanding of why your partner may be acting the way that he/she does. Their behavior will most likely have to do with their attachment style.

There is also an online Attachment Style quiz that you and your partner can take, to identify your Attachment Type. This knowledge can be invaluable for the both of you, as go through this new discovery, that can help enhance your relationship in the future.