Knowing your attachment style can help you navigate your relationships in a much healthier way. Since our attachment styles are linked to our childhood, it makes sense for us to study them a little deeper because they can help us understand ourselves and our partners better and they help us understand why we choose certain partners and how do we interpret their actions or it can help us understand why some relationships didn’t work out.
There are four styles of attachment.
Secure Attachment – People with secure attachment styles tend to be more comfortable and satisfied in their relationships. They’re confident and comfortable with intimacy. They communicate their needs from a place of love rather than insecurity and they know how to handle conflict in a non-defensive way. They’re fairly balanced in their relationships because they had parents who modeled the same behavior and made love look easy and safe. Therefore, they provide a stable and safe environment for their partners.
Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment – People with AP attachment styles tend to be overly invested in their partner, always clinging on to them out of fear that they might leave. They also live in their own fantasies most of the time waiting for their partner to ‘rescue’ them or show them the love and affection they lacked when they were children. One or both parents probably demonstrated love in a needy way out of emotional hunger instead of love. The parent was sometimes present and sometimes absent which made the children feel like they needed to fight for their parents’ love and attention. Their anxiety makes them feel unloved most of the time and they need constant reassurance from their partner. They’re easily triggered by their emotions and insecurities and sometimes even sabotage their own relationships because of their anxiety and their fears.
Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment – People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment tend to downplay the importance of a relationship in their lives. They’re self-reliant and constantly affirm that they don’t ‘need’ anyone. They’re more focused on themselves than anyone else. They shut down emotionally and isolate themselves when they’re dealing with intense emotions or problems. They are known to be distant partners or even loners. Dismissive avoidants most probably grew up in a home where one or both parents were emotionally unavailable or unresponsive so they learned how to deal with everything inwards and on their own.
Fearful-Avoidant Attachment – People with a fearful-avoidant attachment live in a constant struggle of wanting to be in a relationship yet are afraid of getting too close. Fearful avoidants grew up with neglectful parents and they were scared of their caregivers most of the time. They tend to have a negative view of themselves and others and don’t trust easily. They are always living in a state of ambivalence and confusion and could easily end up in emotionally abusive relationships because of their indecisiveness and their passive ways in relationships.
The bad news is, you develop these attachment styles as a child so it becomes second nature to you but the good news is once you learn the root of your attachment style, you can work on changing it and examine the way you perceive yourself and your partner. For example, anxious partners tend to attract avoidants and vice versa resulting in both partners feeling unloved and not having their needs met. Avoidants like the attention and love they get from their anxious partners but they aren’t emotionally available to give them the time and attention they need while anxious partners fail to find the reassurance and validation they need from their avoidant partners and constantly feel like their feelings are not being reciprocated.
Ideally, we should all work on being secure in our relationships but if you fall under one of the other styles, it’s better to be with a secure partner because they will help you overcome your fears and insecurities until you can navigate these emotions well on your own. By becoming aware of your attachment style, you can certainly change the type of people you attract and also develop a new style of attachment that paves the way for more satisfying and healthier relationships. It can also help you resolve your most convoluted childhood or abandonment issues.