What Is Your Attachment Style?
Radically improve your relationship by knowing your attachment style.
By Sarah Bergman, Psychotherapist at Counselling on the Coast
What is your attachment style? Single or attached, long-time married or newly dating you can definitely benefit from knowing your attachment style and what attachment theory is! Essentially Attachment theory is about the emotional bond that typically forms between infant and caregiver. The infants’ early experience with their caregiver stimulates growth of neural pathways that sculpt enduring patterns of response to many things. How well the helpless infants’ primary needs are met by the caregiver and their bond determines the infants’ attachment. An attachment pattern is established in early childhood and continues to function as a working model for relationships into adulthood. Attachment theory was later extrapolated to adults to account for the various ways we form relationships with others, specifically how we react to our own needs in relationship and how we go about getting our needs met by friends, romantic partners and even work colleagues.
Our style of attachment affects the way we do relationship from who we choose, to how well our relationships progress, how they end and our level of satisfaction in relationships. There are three main types of attachment secure, anxious and avoidant, (the fourth less common style is anxious-avoidant).
Securely attached individuals are confident, are able to easily interact with others meeting their own and another’s needs. They are equally ok with displaying interest and affection and being alone and independent. They can cope with rejection and are less prone to obsessing over their relationships. They are also better at choosing prospective partners as they are more confident in what their needs are and less likely to forfeit their needs just so they won’t be alone. They report being the most happiest and fulfilled in relationships and generally choose other secure types.
Anxiously attached individuals are people who need plenty of reassurance, are overly dependent and find it difficult to trust others. They often show signs of severe distress when feeling or fearing abandonment and therefore have difficulty in being single compared with the other two styles. They are therefore more likely to succumb to unhealthy relationships as their need to be in relationship overrides whether it is satisfying or not. However, if the anxiously attached learn to communicate their needs effectively, regulate their own emotions and learn to choose secure partners rather than those with an avoidant style (which they are generally drawn to), then they can begin to shift their style to secure.
People with Avoidant attachment are individuals who are independent, self-referencing and usually uncomfortable with intimacy. They may avoid commitment and/or construct their lifestyle in such a way to avoid too much contact with their partners, namely by keeping a full schedule. Relationship satisfaction is often elusive for these types. However if they learn to understand and communicate their needs and allow themselves to be vulnerable they are on their way to having more satisfying relationships. These types are usually drawn to anxiously attached individuals as the dance of pursue/withdraw keeps these types stuck in their perspective patterns.
So by knowing your attachment style and whether it is insecure or not, you can uncover ways you are defending yourself from getting close (avoidant) or depending on others for fear of abandonment (anxious) and work toward forming an earned secure attachment and thus more fulfilling relationships!© Copyright – Sarah Bergman, Counselling on the Coast. Reproduced with permission, February 2020