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Attachment Theory

Attachment theory is an area of psychology that describes the nature of emotional attachment between people, starting with your parents. The quality of how well you were cared for will then influence the nature of your relationships later in life.

There are four attachment strategies: secure, anxious, avoidant, and anxious-avoidant.

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Secure Attachment Style

  • People with this style are comfortable showing interest and affection. 
  • They are comfortable being alone and independent.
  • They can correctly prioritize their relationships.
  • They are able to draw clear boundaries and stick with them.

50% of the population is secure attachment types.

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Anxious Attachment Style

Anxious Attachment Style

  • They are often nervous and stressed about their relationships.
  • They need constant reassurance and affection from their partners.
  • They have trouble being alone or single.
  • They are often in unhealthy or abusive relationships.
  • They have trouble trusting people.
  • Their behavior can be irrational and overly emotional.

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Avoidant Attachment Style

Avoidant Attachment Style

  • They are highly independent.
  • They are self-directed.
  • They are uncomfortable with intimacy.
  • They complain of not enough personal space when people try to get close to them.
  • They have an exit strategy in every relationship.

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Anxious-Avoidant Attachment Style

  • They are also known as the "fearful type."
  • They are afraid of intimacy and commitment, and they are distrustful.
  • They spend much of their time alone and miserable, or in dysfunctional relationships.
  • They often suffer from emotional problems in other areas of their life.

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How Attachment Styles Are Formed

Our attachment styles are influenced by how we related to our parents as infants and set the pattern for how we perceive relationships as we mature.

As we get older, we continue to build on this pattern when we form relationships with our peers and other people.

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Relationship Configurations

Different attachment types tend to configure themselves into relationships in predictable ways.

  • Secure types can handle both anxious and avoidant types in a relationship.
  • Anxious and avoidants regularly end up in relationships with one another and less frequent with their own types.
  • Anxious-avoidants only date each other or the least secure of the anxious types or avoidant types. These relationships are often very messy.

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Changing Your Attachment Style

Changing Your Attachment Style

Your attachment style can change over time to a more secure style or an insecure style if they're not careful.

An extreme negative event, such as divorce, death of a dear one, a serious accident, etc. can cause a secure attachment type to move into a more insecure attachment type.

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Navigating to a secure attachment type

Anxious types can work on developing themselves, creating healthy boundaries and fostering a healthy self-image.

Avoidant types can work on opening themselves up to others and share more about themselves.

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