Attachment styles are something that everyone develops from their childhood experiences, and they can have a profound effect on your relationship with others as an adult. Although it’s common to think of attachment as only applying to romantic relationships, it’s actually also applicable to friendships and family connections, too. Learn more about the four main attachment styles and how they can make or break your relationship.
What is an attachment style?
The way you were raised will determine your default way of coping with relationships.
A person’s attachment style informs how they behave and react in a relationship. The theory behind attachment styles that they are our way of belonging and finding balance in relationship. Your attachment style can either be secure, anxious or avoidant in our relationships.
Every single one of us has a primary attachment style, or way of relating, although people can exhibit different behaviors depending on how they feel about their relationship at any given time.
To determine your go-to attachment style, think about a time when you felt especially attached to someone; it might have been your husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend. When you think back to those times, what do you remember? Do you remember feeling content that they were there for you or did it feel like something was missing? What did those moments make you feel? Is this a pattern for you? Do have of these feelings feel familiar?
Where do attachment styles come from?
The best place to start when learning about you or your partner’s attachment style is in childhood. While we’re all shaped by a number of experiences, and how we reacted to those experiences.
For example, those with insecure attachment styles tend to share some common history: unstable parents (or no parent), unpredictable consequences and/or frequent changes in caregivers. This can create an overly anxious attachment style that may follow these people into adulthood—and have an effect on their romantic relationships as well.
A person with a caregiver who lacked boundaries may have protected themselves as a child by keeping to themselves, or pulling back. Or perhaps a person felt like they were never going to get it right as a child and so they withdrew, resulting in the birth of an avoidant attachment style.
Four main attachment styles
four main attachment styles are secure attachment, anxious attachment, dismissive-avoidant attachment and fearful-avoidant attachment. Each style has its benefits and drawbacks on relationships. Understanding these styles will help you understand your relationship better and give you insight into how to improve it in any way.
Here are descriptions of each attachment style along with tips on improving your current relationship and suggestions for choosing a partner who matches your needs. Remember that no one is 100% one type but rather fall somewhere along a spectrum between all types. This doesn’t mean they’re all equally balanced, though — some people lean more towards one type than another — so keep that in mind when reading through these descriptions.
- Comfortable being close to others while still maintaining their independence.
- Feels comfortable with intimacy.
- Not clingy
- Supportive and can work through difficult times
- Feels good about themselves even when they’re not perfect
- Can admit when they’re wrong
- Fear rejection, abandonment, or separation from their partners
- Has an overwhelming need for reassurance and is anxious when they don’t get it
- Can be related to codependency
- Feels insecure and questions everything
- Tests their partners to make sure they care
- Make empty threats as a way to get their needs met
- May believe that they are self-sufficient and don’t need someone else to feel happy
- Lack of interest in romantic feelings or other people’s emotions
- Fear of being close to others because may lead to failure.
- Tends to people please which can then lead to resentment
- Doesn’t want to be looked at as a bad person
- Withdraws because they feel about themselves and don’t know how to fix it
What are the effects on romantic relationships?
The effect of attachment styles on romantic relationships is a controversial topic. Some research indicates that people with similar attachment styles are more likely to form strong, lasting bonds. Other studies show that even when people have very different attachment styles, they can still find success in their relationships; however, it can be more difficult for them to do so because they might struggle to overcome conflicts or relationship problems without taking their partner’s feelings into consideration.
We have different attachment styles. Now what?
If you and your partner are struggling to mix your attachment styles, marriage counseling can help you find that middle ground. Knot Counseling has a team of couples counselors that are passionate about all things relationship! We offer free consultations and are happy to talk about our approach when it comes to attachment.