I Love Your Attachment Style?
Attachment theory helps us understand how the relationship we had with our caregivers growing up can correlate with how we relate to others in our adulthood. I often remind clients how our relationship with our caregivers are our first relationships and so they really set the standard and model for what relationships are supposed to look like for us.
So let's talk about attachment styles. So in an ideal situation we would all grow up with a secure attachment with our caregivers. Secure attachment emphasizes on the secure. This means that you were able to feel safe, supported and protected by your caregivers. That even when there may have been critique of discipline there was a level of care and safety you could rely on. So this becomes your standard. The infographic below helps give some examples of what this may look like. As you read through the examples you can start to see how qualities of secure attachment can play a big part in your love life and romantic relationships.
Now how might this look different if we have had adverse life experiences that did not foster secure attachment? Some of us have had challenging relationships with our caregivers or other experiences that have contributed to us relating to ourselves and others in less than favorable ways. There are three other attachment styles that describe what not having secure attachment can look like. Anxious attachment describes how one can internalize these adverse life experiences and have a negative view of self and an anxious relationship with others. Avoidant attachment tells a similar story but in a different way. Avoidant attachment internalizes those adverse life experiences and projects it onto any and everything creating a rigid view of themselves and others. Fearful (Disorganized) attachment reflects its name in that it fluctuates between anxious and avoidant, often causing a chaotic view of oneself and others. The infographic below gives good examples of each of these.
So What Does This Have to Do with My Love Life?
Now that we understand a bit more about attachment styles. We can consider how they may play a part in our dating lives. Our attachment style affects who we choose to date, how we behave in relationships and even how we handle break ups. For example when we are anxiously attached we might find ourselves looking to our romantic relationship to meet all our needs while feeling insecure in ourselves to meet any of our own needs. We may become consumed by our relationship and struggle to leave any room for self. The irony is that this often sets the foundation for what anxious attachment fears the most, rejection and abandonment.
Fear of rejection and abandonment lay at the root with the other insecure attachment styles as well. Avoidant attachment tries to navigate this by just avoiding romantic relationships all together or if in one, struggles with the intimacy, vulnerability and interdependence that is required to sustain a romantic relationship. Disorganized attachment battles between being consumed by their romantic relationship and being completely avoidant of them. They can be desperate for connection one minute but easily spooked into retreating the next.
There are some things to keep in mind. We can look at attachment like a spectrum and understand we all fall at various points. The most important thing to keep in mind is that our attachment can change and evolve.
I’m In ‘Secure Attachment with’ You?
Understanding our attachment helps us understand our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to love. With clients I often describe the relationship between love and secure attachment as secure attachment is the soil from which love can grow. When we don't have secure
attachment in our romantic relationships love can not thrive and will not sustain. We build this secure attachment in our romantic relationships by first establishing it with ourselves. A part of healing from these adverse life experiences, especially the one with our caregivers is being able to understand that although you were not able to establish secure attachment then, you have the
ability to do that now.
If you have read this blog and realized you don’t have a secure attachment style no need to panic. This is an opportunity to begin learning to foster the secure attachment with yourself so that you can establish it with others. This could be done through therapy and/or continuing to learn and read about attachment styles while creating space for your healing journey. Wherever you begin doesn’t matter, as long as you do.