How Is Your Attachment Style Affecting Your Relationship?

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Each of us has an attachment style and once you work out yours, you can improve your relationships.

According to psychologists, the foundation of every adult relationship we build (platonic or romantic) is based on the attachment style we developed from our parents as a child. 

The attachment theory was first established in the 1960s by British psychologist, John Bowlby.

He used it as a psychological framework to understand why humans interact differently with one another and where these varied behaviours originated from.  

According to Psychalive an attachment style “refers to the particular way you in which you relate to other people. Your style of attachment is formed at the very beginning of your life. It can clarify the ways that you are emotionally limited as an adult and what you need to change to improve close relationships”.  

There are 3 major attachment styles; secure, anxious and avoidant.

According to Psychology Today, 60% of people have a secure attachment style, 20% have an anxious attachment style and a further 20% have an avoidant attachment style (either dismissive or fearful).

To figure out which attachment style sounds most like you, keep reading.

The Secure Attachment Style

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During childhood, their caregivers allowed them the freedom to seek adventure and explore the world.

In doing so a channel for open communication was formed between child and parent.   

Psychology Today states that in a relationship this person would likely have a “high emotional intelligence”.

In other words, they are empathetic, benefit from criticism and are able to process and rationalise not only their own thoughts and feelings but others’ as well.

Psychalive says that this attachment type “thrives off of their self-awareness” and are able to communicate their emotions maturely with their partner when obstacles come up.

Whilst this attachment style may seem too good to be true, the reality is that they still have hurdles to overcome but find it easier to handle the ups and downs of a relationship.

It is their sense of security in the relationship that allows them to think rationally when dealing with problems or emotions.

As a result, the relationship is honest and equal, allowing both partners to thrive and grow as individuals, as well as a couple.

The Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style

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As a child, they received inconsistent attention from their caregiver.

The unpredictability of their caregiver’s response to their distress, leaves the child confused as to whom they can trust.

According to Bustle.com, having unclear boundaries as a child transitions into adult life where they will most likely “have trust issues in their relationships”.

As a partner, characteristics may include clinginess and obsessive behaviour as they are constantly looking for emotional validation.

The Anxious-Preoccupied type is known to romanticise the idea of love and analyse their own relationship accordingly.

This can create an unrealistic view on what the relationship should look like and can leave them with a never-ending sense of dissatisfaction.

When it comes to dealing with problems, they acts on anxiety and will “immediately seek reassurance from their partner” that their relationship isn’t doomed.

TheLoveCompass.com states that when this type is triggered by a sense of rejection or abandonment, it is important that they “do not engage in protest behaviour” such as pointing fingers, blaming their partner and acting out irrationally.

Relationships with an anxious-preoccupied attachment type thrive when the needs of both partners are communicated to each other effectively.

The Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment Style

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According to Psychology Today, this attachment type most likely grew up with an emotionally unavailable caregiver. 

As their needs and desires for attention were unmet during childhood they learned to avoid true intimacy so that they wouldn’t have to face rejection.

As an adult in a relationship, they tend to keep their partners at a distance where they can avoid communicating about any conflict or stress going on in their life.

They usually have difficulty being vulnerable and are known to seek isolation or being alone.   

As a result, they only trust themselves and do not seek the validation of others when they should in fact be communicating their needs and allowing themselves to open up honestly with their partner in oder to have a fulfilling relationship.

Some may see this as being self-sufficient and independent, but according to PsychCentral, “it is the quality of the connections we have with people that has a huge effect on our happiness”.  

The Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Style

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As a child, their caregiver may have been neglectful, abusive or threatening.

According to TheLoveCompass.com, because they experience “feelings of rejection from someone who is supposed to make them feel safe”, they tend to disassociate during stressful situations.

In a relationship, although they crave intimacy, they will distance themselves from their partner.  

Thoughtco.com states that it’s not that they don’t want to be in a relationship, rather that “they pull away from being in one because of their own anxieties”.

These polar opposite emotions can be overwhelming to deal with and usually this type will experience a lot of inner conflict.

The struggle to be completely trusting and vulnerable in a relationship is a difficult hurdle everyone has to face, but with open communication and the right support from their partner it can become easier.

When analysing how an attachment style can affect the relationship, Bustle.com states that it is important to remember that “it is only one facet of a person’s identity” and does not indicate whether a relationship is successful or not.

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Anisha Rapthi

CONTRIBUTOR

Anisha's perfect Friday night consists of playing boardgames and sharing a laugh with her nearest and dearest while devouring some Messina ice-cream. She is passionate about learning from empowering women and can usually be found listening to podcasts, watching videos or reading articles, obsessing over whoever the latest ally is. Like most millennials, her favourite way to wind-down is to grab a yummy snack and binge-watch her favourite Netflix series.

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