Attachment Styles & What They Mean for Your Relationships
You’ve learned about love languages. You know about zodiac signs. But one social behavior/personality type bucket you might not be familiar with yet is attachment styles.
Every person has an attachment style, and you’ve had one since you were a kid. Attachment is pretty much the bond you formed with your parent or caregiver in your first 18 months of life, which was influenced by how they met your wants and needs. Your attachment style usually stays the same into adulthood, manifesting and impacting how you relate to others and your social coping behavior. Whether it’s with a romantic partner or friend, attachment activates in a relationship where you’re one-on-one with someone.
The Four Attachment Styles
About 2/3 of the population of the world has a secure attachment type. As kids, these people had their needs met when seeking support, comfort, and soothing from their caregiver. Since the child’s emotional and physical needs were satisfied, they grew up to be securely attached.
A relationship with 2 securely attached people is honest and emotionally close. They can talk to one another about what they want or need. They value their relationship.
Anxious / Preoccupied
Anxious attachment style adults were usually anxious babies. This baby doesn’t leave mom’s side and is constantly clinging and crying, noting that anxious/preoccupied attachment is created out of perceived neglect.
This type has hyperactivated their longing, believing the other person in the relationship is more important than themselves and exhibiting self-sacrificing behavior. They have a hard time with boundaries, and they struggle to be alone. Anxious/preoccupied types have high anxiety levels that their partner is not as into them and are afraid of being betrayed. They end up breaking the bond they’re trying to build.
Dismissive / Avoidant
An avoidant baby turns into a dismissive adult because they have a need not met very early on. It’s survival. They stop needing. They excel in life and school, but they don’t necessarily find happiness from it. They look extremely successful on paper because they do but feel mentally empty because they’ve grown up with so much longing.
In relationships, they struggle to be dependent on another person. Avoiding emotional closeness is generally the vibe. They probably have issues with committing to someone because they’re so good at soothing themselves. It feels much easier to be distant than to get close to someone and possibly be abandoned.
Disorganized / Fearful-Avoidant
There is a 4th attachment style where both the anxious and dismissive behaviors manifest inside a person. They’re always at war internally. It’s the result of the parent or caregiver being a source of both fear and desire.
Determining Your Attachment Style
Remember that there are many individual variabilities – just like how not all Pisces sob and daydream. It’s weird to think that as adults, we may be imitating the feelings we had when we were small humans in diapers, but it’s definitely a real thing. So how do attachment styles work out in real life? While secure attachment doesn’t always equal a cuteness overload, it usually implies a balanced and healthy partnership. Two people dating with insecure attachments are more emotionally challenging.
The anxious person in the relationship will always treat their partner as more important. No one is more important for the dismissive person than they are, and they love someone being devoted to them. They want the qualities they don’t have themselves, but it can create chaos.
Navigating Attachment Issues
It’s one thing to know your attachment style, but the bigger question is, what are you going to do with it?
If you’re preoccupied/anxious, the focus is to stop self-sacrificing and say what you actually want for dinner. If you’re avoidant/dismissive, you’ll need to learn how to focus on your partner.
The goal is to move toward avoidant and secure healthy attachment, where most of us already fall.