Humans have been designed to be social beings. This means that we need, want, and long for connections with others. Some may say it’s in our nature, while others will confirm our brain is wired this way.
But what happens when we feel disconnected? Or worse, what happens when we fear any connection and choose to keep our distance out of fear of being disappointed, rejected, or abandoned?
What happens when one of our most basic needs, the need to belong and connect, is not met? Can we learn how to form healthy attachments to other people?
What is an attachment style?
We all have different ways of relating to the people in our lives. Some of us need constant reassurance, while others may not. Our “attachment style” is the way we interact with and respond to the people we’re close to.
Attachment theory is the joint work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Attachment theory explains the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Specifically, it focuses on how positive emotions within a relationship can be maintained.
The central tenet of attachment theory is that infants come into the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others because the need to be close to others is essential for human survival. According to attachment theory, this need is what motivates human beings to seek out and maintain close relationships.
Most of us have a dominant attachment style that we use most of the time. But we may also use other styles depending on the situation. For example, we may have more insecurities and need more reassurance in romantic relationships than with our friends.
Understanding your attachment style can help you to:
• Make sense of your past relationships
• Improve your current relationships
• Avoid repeating negative patterns in future relationships
• Understand why you react the way you do in certain situations without judgment
• Communicate more effectively with others
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What are the four main attachment styles?
In order to understand our own relationship patterns, it can be helpful to know about the different attachment styles. There are four main adult attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. Each attachment style is characterized by different thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in relationships.
Secure attachment is characterized by feelings of comfort and closeness with one’s partner. Individuals with a secure attachment style generally feel confident in their relationships and are able to express their emotions openly. Secure attachment gravitates around trust, emotional intimacy, and positive communication.
Secure attachment types are often described as being “in tune” with their partners. They are able to pick up on subtle cues and signals from their partners and respond accordingly. This type of communication often leads to a strong sense of understanding and closeness between partners involved in intimate relationships.
People with this style are able to be emotionally close to others and feel comfortable seeking support when needed. They’re also able to handle conflict and stressful situations in a healthy way. A study found that people with a secure attachment style reported higher levels of life satisfaction, self-esteem, and positive affect than those with other attachment styles. Having a secure attachment is associated with many positive outcomes and more stable mental health.
Anxious-preoccupied attachment is a type of attachment characterized by a strong desire for closeness with a partner, accompanied by feelings of anxiety and insecurity. Individuals with this attachment style tend to be preoccupied with their relationship and are often worried about their partner’s level of commitment and whether or not they will be abandoned. They may also appear “needy” and excessively dependent on their partner for support and reassurance.
People with anxious-preoccupied attachment often have difficulty trusting their partner and may constantly feel on edge. They may also experience jealousy and possessiveness and may constantly seek reassurance from their partner. Although they may be deeply in love with their partner, they may also find themselves feeling angry, hurt, and resentful.
Anxious-preoccupied attachment is thought to be formed in childhood when a child does not feel secure in their caregivers’ love and attention. This can be due to a number of factors, including unpredictable or absent caregivers or a history of childhood trauma or abuse.
According to a study by Miklowitz and colleagues, people with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style are more likely to experience depression and anxiety symptoms. The study found that 62% of the participants with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style met the criteria for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, compared to only 26% of the participants with a secure attachment style.
Dismissive-avoidant attachment style is characterized by a lack of emotional closeness with others and a tendency to avoid intimacy. People with this attachment style often have difficulty trusting others and may feel like they are better off on their own.
People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style often have a deep-seated fear of intimacy and close relationships. They may believe that they are better off alone. As a result, they may keep others at a distance, both physically and emotionally. They may also be unwilling to rely on others for support and may have difficulty trusting others.
People who have this type of behavior in relationships appear to be more independent and self-sufficient than people with other attachment styles. However, this independence can also make it difficult for them to form close relationships, which, ultimately, people with this attachment type want as well, but they just find it hard to trust and get close to others.
People with a fearful-avoidant attachment style, also known as disorganized attachment style, have a deep-rooted fear of intimacy and commitment. As a result, they often find themselves in unhealthy and unhappy relationships.
Fearful-avoidant individuals often have relationships marked by insecurity, mistrust, and anxiety. While they may long for closeness and intimacy, they’re unwilling to let anyone get too close due to their avoidant strategies. They may come across as cold, distant, or unemotional. But underneath their guarded exterior, they’re usually quite sensitive and vulnerable.
Why should you know your type of attachment style?
In order to have a healthy and successful adult relationship, it is important to know your attachment style. Attachment in adulthood is based on how you were treated as a child by your primary caregiver, and it will affect the way you relate to others as an adult.
If you had a caregiver who was supportive and responsive to your needs, you are more likely to have a secure attachment style. If you had a caregiver who was neglectful or unavailable, you are more likely to have an anxious or avoidant attachment behavior.
Knowing your attachment style can help you understand why you act the way you do in relationships and how you can improve your relationships.
If you know that you have an anxious attachment style, for example, you can work on ways to become more secure in your relationships. This may include learning how to trust others better and developing self-confidence.
If you know that you have an avoidant attachment style, you can work on becoming more comfortable with being close to others. This may include learning how to express your feelings and needs to others and establishing stronger connections with the people important to you.
Which attachment style is best?
Our attachment history can influence our relationships in both positive and negative ways. What is important is that people are aware of their own attachment style and how it affects their relationships.
Some of us are more insecure in our attachments and may have a harder time trusting and confiding in others. We may be more prone to jealousy and anxiety and may find it difficult to let go of past hurts.
On the other hand, those of us with a more secure attachment style may find it easier to trust and be open with others. We may be better able to handle conflict and feel more comfortable with intimacy.
It’s important to remember that there is no one “right” way to attach to others. We all have different needs and preferences, and what works for one person may not work for another. If we’re not happy with the way our attachment style is impacting our life, we can always work on making changes to feel more secure in our relationships
Can we learn to have a secure attachment style?
While there is no right or wrong attachment style, research has shown that people with a secure attachment style are more likely to have healthier relationships, better mental and physical health, and overall greater life satisfaction. Furthermore, people with a secure attachment style are better able to cope with stress and adversity. They’re also more likely to be able to form close, meaningful relationships.
Secure attachment is when we feel confident in our ability to cope with life’s challenges and feel secure in our relationships. We trust that our needs will be met by our loved ones, and feel comfortable being emotionally and physically close to them.
There are several factors that contribute to a secure attachment style, including having a stable home life and positive relationships with responsive caregivers. People who feel loved and supported by their family and friends are more likely to feel secure in their relationships.
Of course, just because our attachment style is influenced by our early experiences doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. In fact, research suggests that our attachment style is relatively flexible and that we can learn to feel more secure in our relationships. As expected, there is no quick fix, but there are things you can do to improve your relationships.
Build positive relationships with the people around you.
It’s no secret that the relationships we have with the people around us can have a profound impact on our lives. Whether it’s a romantic partner, a close friend, or even a coworker, our interactions with others can shape our moods, emotions, and behaviors in significant ways.
So, what’s the best way to build positive relationships with the people around you? Take an interest in the people around you and listen to their experiences. This may seem simple, but it is actually one of the most effective ways to build trust in your relationships.
Start by also sharing some things about yourself with loved ones. It’s okay to start small. You should also invest time in the little things like spending time with loved ones, going out for coffee, or taking a walk together.
Focus on improving your self-esteem.
We all know that feeling good about ourselves is important, but did you know that your self-esteem can actually impact your adult relationships? It’s true! According to research, people with a secure attachment style tend to have higher self-esteem, which leads to healthier relationships.
So, what does this mean for you? If you’re not happy with your current level of self-esteem, it’s time to focus on making some changes. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself.
- Do things that make you feel competent and successful.
- Be mindful of the way you talk to yourself – avoid negative self-talk at all costs!
- Make an effort to look after yourself physically and emotionally.
When you feel good about yourself, it will be easier to form healthy relationships with others.
Work on building trust.
Do you find it difficult to trust people? One of the main issues with insecure attachment is a lack of trust. If you want to learn to have a secure attachment style, work on building trust in your relationships. This means being honest, reliable, and supportive.
In order to build trust in a relationship, it is important to feel safe and secure with your partner. Learn to rely on them for support, and you will see they are there for you when you need them. It also means feeling comfortable communicating with them and sharing your thoughts and feelings.
Seek professional help.
If you are struggling with your attachment style, professional help can make a big difference. A therapist can help you understand your attachment style and how it is impacting your current relationships. They can also provide tools and strategies for improving your relationships. Be patient with yourself, and don’t expect perfection.