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Relationship Attachment — What’s Your Style?

Attachment is defined as a special emotional relationship that invokes an exchange of comfort, care and pleasure. It is further described as the “enduring psychological connectedness between human beings”.

These early experiences have important influence on the development of relationships and our relationship behavior in later life.

Your attachment style often dictates the quality of your current love life. Who you choose and how you choose can often find their roots right here.

If you are constantly finding the wrong person to be involved with you may want to investigate your attachment history. Problems stemming from attachment difficulties are common but if left unchecked can lead to depression, anxiety, anger and other destructive emotions as they lead us down the wrong path over and over again.

Attachment styles are developed in childhood through the child/caregiver relationship and through early experiences with others.

The ability to trust and develop meaningful relationships with others is deeply rooted in your own attachment style. How you interpret others motives and desires are fashioned by your own experiences and how you treat the significant person in your life is also by this design.

So Where Do You Stand?

Do you push people away as you believe the inevitable parting is under your control and won’t hurt as badly?

Do you cling too tightly?

Do you vacillate between each of these?

Do you believe others can love you or meet your needs and do you choose a person who is capable?

Do you sabotage new relationships as they seem too good to be true?

Do you hook up with undesirables and not really give a rat’s behind when the relationship ends because it was beneath you anyway?

What’s Your Style?

So what attachment style are you, and what style is your partner (present or most recent significant relationship)? There is no right or wrong answer. If you find yourself experiencing relationship problems this may be the place to start investigating why.

Secure Attachment Style:  These relationships are characterized by warmth. Openness comes naturally to you. You do not ruminate excessively over your relationships, and you assume that they are going well unless told differently by your partner. Your general feeling is that whatever conflict comes along within reason can be dealt with by communicating in a direct fashion. You are quite adept at reading your partner and genuine about attempting to meet their needs. You are not threatened by sharing your thoughts and feelings, and you enjoy discussing life issues with your partner.

Anxious Attachment:  You may be spending a great deal of energy worrying about your relationship. You have the capacity and desire for relationships but are very insecure once one is attained. You may be “on guard” constantly looking for signs that the relationship has ended, is weakening, or that your partner is somehow changing direction away from you. You may interpret every little nuance in your partner’s moods as being directed at you and a sure sign that things are over.  These fears tend to make your relationships a roller coaster ride for you emotionally, as well as for your partner (especially if you act out when you experience the fears). Yelling, nagging and clinging when you feel threatened may tend to push your partner away, bringing about the very result you feared – that of them leaving the relationship and rejecting you.

Avoidant Attachment:  You may perceive relationships as smothering you or that they will interfere with your independence. Autonomy is very important to you and not to be given up. You may enjoy relationships to some degree but not let anyone “too close.” Not much time is spent worrying about your relationships one way or the other, and you are not preoccupied with rejection. Open communication does not come easily to you, and you may see no real need to share your thoughts or feelings with your partner. You may keep personal information to yourself and feel that sharing too much is giving over control to someone else. You may not like to share future plans or even current ones with your partner, causing strife in the relationship. Although you are not preoccupied with rejection, you may be always on guard for any signs of attempted control by your partner and perceive certain actions as being attempts at control even when they are not.

Obviously, the key here is to strive toward a Secure Attachment with a likewise Secure individual.

If you are already there, congratulations!! One less thing to worry about.

If you are an Insecurely Attached style, don’t worry, with some insight and training you too can find that perfect love.

If you think you are an Avoidant or you are in a relationship with an Avoidant you may have a little more work to do to fully experience a Secure Attachment but it can be done.

As you can see, these styles develop over time, typically starting in childhood.  Children from dysfunctional families are most at risk for developing attachment problems as the skill base and modeling necessary to develop Secure Attachment patterns are just not there.

Learning these skills as an adult can be fun, enlightening and immensely rewarding, freeing you up from the hamster wheel of meeting duds, wasting time in bad relationships, grieving lost ones and then starting all over again.

The skill base you will need to learn involves raising self-esteem, cognitive behavioral training that allows you to build confidence and trust yourself when those red flags start to fly.