How Attachment Styles Affect Adult Relationships
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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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
If you recognize an insecure attachment style in either yourself or your romantic partner, here's what you can do:
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