How Attachment Styles Affect Adult Relationships

Whatever your specific relationship problems, it’s important to know that your brain remains capable of change throughout life.

By identifying your attachment style, you can learn to challenge your insecurities, develop a more securely attached way of relating to others, and build stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling relationships.

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Self Improvement

What Attachment Is

Attachment is the emotional connection you formed as an infant with your primary caregiver—probably your mother.

According to attachment theory, pioneered by British psychiatrist John Bowlby and American psychologist Mary Ainsworth, the quality of the bonding you experienced during this first relationship often determines how well you relate to other people and respond to intimacy throughout life.

Attachment Styles and How They Shape Adult Relationships

The infant brain is so profoundly influenced by the attachment bond. Understanding your attachment style can offer vital clues as to why you may be having problems in your adult relationships. There arefour main attachment styles:

  • Secure attachment
  • Ambivalent (or anxious-preoccupied) attachment
  • Avoidant-dismissive attachment
  • Disorganized attachment.
The Secure Attachment Style

It’s likely your primary caretaker was able to stay engaged with you as an infant and effectively manage their own stress as well as calm and soothe you when you were distressed. Having a secure attachment style might look like this:

  • You’re able to be yourself in an intimate relationship.
  • You’re comfortable expressing your feelings and needs.
  • You’re able to maintain your emotional balance and seek healthy ways to manage conflict.
  • When faced with setbacks you’re resilient enough to bounce back.
Ambivalent or Anxious Attachment Style

It’s likely your parent or primary caregiver was inconsistent in their parenting style, sometimes engaged and responsive to your needs as an infant, other times unavailable or distracted.

People with an ambivalent attachment style tend to be overly needy:

  • You may find it difficult to observe boundaries.
  • You struggle to feel that you can trust or fully rely on your partner
  • You may use manipulative tactics to keep your partner close.
  • You need constant reassurance from your partner.
Avoidant Attachment Style

An avoidant attachment style often stems from a parent who was unavailable or rejecting during your infancy. Since your needs were never regularly or predictably met by your caregiver, you were forced to self-soothe.

As someone with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style:

  • You don’t feel you need others.
  • The more someone tries to get close to you, the more you tend to withdraw.
  • You’re uncomfortable with your emotions.
  • You’re prone to minimize or disregard your partner’s feelings.
Disorganized Attachment Style

Your parental figure may have ignored or overlooked your needs as an infant, or their erratic, chaotic behavior could have been frightening or traumatizing to you.

If you have a disorganized attachment style, you’ve likely never learned to self-soothe your emotions:

  • You swing between emotional extremes of love and hate for a partner.
  • You may exhibit antisocial behavior patterns, abuse alcohol or drugs, or prone to aggression or violence.
  • You feel unworthy of love and terrified of getting hurt.
Getting Help for Insecure Attachment

If you recognize an insecure attachment style in either yourself or your romantic partner, here's what you can do:

  • A therapist can help you make sense of your past emotional experience and become more secure.
  • Improve your nonverbal communication skills
  • Boost your emotional intelligence. Understanding and managing your own emotions in positive ways can help strengthen a romantic relationship.
  • A supportive relationship can play an important part in building your sense of security

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  • Some people are doing the opposite of what should ideally be done.Their internal fears and their avoidant attitude are a paradox, and they cannot figure out if they want emotional closeness or not.
  • They deny their own feelings and never fully trust the other person.
  • The feelings of jealousy and rivalry come easily to them.
  • This style is often the result of some major loss or trauma in their lives, which made them never take security and closeness for granted.

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IDEAS

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.

Entitlement is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and treatment by others. It is a selfish quality.

People act entitled in relationships because they are overcompensating for never getting what they want or are comfortable in always getting what they want.

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