Have you ever been vulnerable with a partner only to be ghosted? Does a committed relationship with your partner have you fearing a loss of your independence? Chances are, you and your partner have clashing attachment styles.
What is attachment theory?
Since the time we are born, humans are constantly learning how to connect with people and form relationships with others. It begins with your parents and continues to grow and develop as you form friendships and eventually romantic relationships
This idea of attachment theory was first explained by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s. Psychologist Mary Ainsworth later concluded that there are three main attachment styles: secure, dismissive and anxious. A fourth attachment style, disorganized, was later discovered as well.
Humans that have a healthy attachment to their caregivers and can depend on their caregivers for all their emotional and physical needs are more likely to develop a secure attachment.
Below are the four different types of attachment styles; here is how they are defined and how they can impact your relationships:
Those with a secure attachment style likely see their caregivers as reliable and dependent. They feel independent enough to venture out because they know they have a secure foundation.
Similarly, the secure attachment style in dating often feels as though they can go to their partner when they are in need of support, but also trust their partner to lead an independent life outside of the relationship as well. The secure partner does not feel the need to smother their partner, be manipulative or play games.
A couple that consists of two secure types of people often have healthy and open forms of communication. This keeps their relationship free of toxic cycles of arguing and criticism.
People with the dismissive, or avoidant, attachment style essentially use it as a defense mechanism to avoid getting too close to anyone. This type of behavior usually stems from past trauma or a past relationship where their needs were not met.
As a result, the dismissive attacher often believes they can’t rely on anyone. To them, being in a committed relationship means giving up their autonomy and independence. They might avoid romantic relationships altogether or sabotage a romantic relationship that they feel is progressing.
Those with a dismissive attachment style are often attracted to those with an anxious attachment style because they know this person will continue to chase them even when they put in little to no effort. Being in a relationship with a dismissive attacher will be confusing because they can be all-in-one day and gone the next.
As humans, we crave love, approval and emotional responsiveness from the people we have relationships with. However, for those with an anxious attachment style, these needs can sometimes be expressed in an unhealthy way.
An adult with an anxious attachment style may constantly fear rejection. While this can generally lead to stress and low-satisfaction in their life, their relationships tend to suffer the most.
An anxious attacher in a relationship will often put their partner’s needs above their own because they are often insecure about their own worth. Due to low self-esteem, it can be hard for them to ever feel secure in a relationship. This tends to make them act out in desperate or clingy ways, such as playing games or pulling away to draw their partner back in and give them the reassurance they need.
This difficult to overcome attachment style is often a result of childhood trauma or abuse. People with the disorganized attachment style most likely were not able to turn to their caregivers for safety or often felt afraid to.
As adults, this type of attachment style has the desire to be loved. However, because they don’t know how to trust people, they enter into relationships expecting to be rejected and hurt.
Due to the fact that this ultimate rejection is expected, a disorganized attacher will begin sabotaging the relationship out of fear. They tend to have a negative view of themselves and of others and are at a higher risk of developing mental health issues.
How do I know what my attachment style is?
You can discover your attachment style through reading about them, analyzing your behavior and taking quizzes.
What do I do if I am an insecure attacher?
No matter what your attachment style is, you can change it and happy endings are possible. Being aware of your particular style can make you start to notice the way you interact with your loved ones. You might be more aware of someone with a secure attachment style and with this person, you may be able to break free from destructive actions you relied on before.