How the 4 Attachment Styles Affect Your Romantic Relationships
It’s never too late to understand which attachment type you are and to understand your relationship patterns.
Attachment styles determine how we interact or respond in our romantic relationships. It is a specific pattern of behaviour in our romantic relationships that was formed during our childhood as a reaction to how our caregivers reacted to our needs.
Here are the 4 adult attachment styles
1. Secure attachment:
ability to connect with another person and does not feel threatened by closeness
ability to form secure, loving relationships
ability to trust the partner and can be trusted
ability to give love and to accept love
not afraid of intimacy
not afraid to depend on others
childhood experience was: caregivers were reliable and responsive to their child’s needs
2. Anxious attachment:
deep fear of abandonment
low self esteem (“I cannot believe that someone like you loves a person like me”)
needs validation (“you don’t care about me”)
clingy or needy behaviour, moody
partner of anxious attachment experience a “push-pull feeling: “I want to be close to you but I don’t want to be close to you"
childhood experience was: caregivers were inconsistent, unpredictable with affections - leads to anxiety in all adult relationships
3. Avoidant attachment:
fear of intimacy
difficulties getting close to others
difficulties trusting others
doesn’t expect that their needs will get met anyway: “I can only rely on myself”, “I’d rather be independent than in a suffocating relationship”
emotionally unavailable “Im nervous when anyone gets to close”
childhood experience: caregivers were not responsive, sometimes dismissive and distant, emotionally disconnected from the child; also possible: experience of getting bullied, immigration, losing a loved one, death of a loved one, being hospitalised, separated from caregiver - conclusion: my needs will not get met
4. Fearful-avoidant attachment (disorganised):
combination of anxious and avoidant attachment style
craving affection and avoiding it at the same time
feels the need to be loved but is scared to open up to a close romantic relationship
unpredictable ("roller coaster relationships")
inner conflict: desire to attach and fear of attachment at the same time
low self esteem (“I am not worthy of love”)
called disorganised attachment because the behaviour is inconsistent, person goes back and forth between avoidance and anxiousness
childhood experience: caregiver was frightening and /or traumatising which leads to fear and lack of trust in others, confusion about what healthy relationships look like, and poor understanding of boundaries
How to heal your wounds
Become aware of your attachment style (find information on the internet, take online quizzes, find a therapist, analyse your patterns).
Identify your partner´s attachment style: This helps understand the challenges in your relationship.
Find your triggers: Don’t be judgemental with yourself. Just observe your reactions. What triggers you? What hurts or saddens you? Are you triggered when you partner doesn’t show affection? The core wound here is not receiving enough loving connection. Do you get triggered when your partner gets clingy? When your partner doesn’t care about your needs?…
What do your reactions to your partner’s behaviour tell you about your attachment wound? Take notes, find your pattern(s), and discover your attachment wound. Take your time and be gentle with yourself.
Share your insights with your partner and ask your partner to do the same. Share your childhood patterns and family issues. It is important that both partners commit to this process; it is important to respect each others feeling and boundaries. By doing so you will definitely deepen your relationship.