5 Signs of Unhealthy Attachment Style in a Relationship

Emotional connection without being attached to another individual is naturally impossible. So to say, you cannot be in a fulfilling, healthy romantic relationship without being attached to your partner. 

The interesting fact is that the kind of attachment you have with your contemporary partner is hugely dependent on the type of attachment you shared with your primary caregivers, e.g, your mother or whoever catered to your basic needs after your birth. This person/s with whom you shared a mutually intimate relationship is your ‘attachment figure/s’. 

Bowlby(1982) defined attachment as a person’s characteristic ways of relating to the attachment figures (with parents, children or one’s romantic partner) in intimate caregiving and receiving relationships. It involves one’s confidence in the attachment figure to use as a secure base from which one can explore the world and also as a safe place of warmth, protection, and support.

5 Signs of Unhealthy Attachment Style in a Relationship

In our infancy, our caregivers were the only source of our need gratification. We are unable to independently fulfill our requirements. Whether the child is consistently gratified or not depends highly on situational factors and the caregiver’s characteristics. A child whose needs get perpetually frustrated, he/she will not grow up to have mistrust on their ‘attachment figures’. Such children never grow up to have a safe, secure and reliable attachment with their primary caregivers as well as with others throughout their lives. This is how unhealthy attachment styles come into being and this influences our type of attachment with our romantic partner in a relationship. 

Some of the attachment styles these children grow up having significantly decreased the chances of a successful relationship later on in their adult lives. They struggle to find security in any relationship as they experience disabling anxiety and fear due to perceived or actual loss of their partner. 

Let’s delineate for you the 5 big signs that you have an unhealthy attachment style with your partner.

5 Signs of Unhealthy Attachment Style in a relationship:

1. Fear of abandonment 

Do you often get crippled with the fear of being abandoned by your partner? Do you often feel like your partner will find a better option and leave you?

It might be natural to behave like this if you have had to deal with separation and loss in the past. Also, this extreme fear of being abandoned by your partner stems from having self-doubt and low self-esteem. 

This fear will make you do weird things you never imagined doing. You turn into a people pleaser, only engaging in behavior which will be appreciated by your partner (compensating your fear). You will find yourself unnecessarily apologizing to your partner, shifting blame to oneself, getting hypersensitive to criticisms, being unable to fully commit in the fear of getting hurt, compromising your needs, expanding your personal boundaries, and making lots of sacrifices just to motivate your partner to stay hooked on you. Often such behaviors will come off as needy to your partner. 

 

2. Needing constant reassurance from your partner

assurance

Do you feel better every time your partner says, “I’ll never leave you alone.” ?  Everybody does. 

But do you need to hear this more often than needed? 

If you do not have a secure attachment with your partner, you will constantly worry about being abandoned. You genuinely want to emotionally connect to them, but you tend to overthink your concern. You know your partner is authentically in love with you, but somehow, a doubt keeps poking you. 

This doubt is the insatiable hungry monster that constantly needs to be fed with assurance and approval. “They seek approval and reassurance from others, yet this never relieves their self-doubt” (February, et.al., 2019)

 

3. Becoming a rescuer

An unhealthy attachment style instigates you to feel like you are losing control over yourself and also your object of attachment. Gaining control over your partner makes you feel like you are actually saving yourself of the loss (perceived).  

Naturally, you will start living the life of your partner by involving yourself in everything they do. This makes you declare yourself the ‘healer’ in the relationship, who only wants the best for his/her partner. You will find yourself taking every single decision on behalf of your partner, taking charge of every trivial situation and fixing your partner’s problems which aren’t even there. 

Shreyasi Debnath
An editor and writer keeping keen interest in painting, creative writing and reading. I did my Masters in Clinical and Counselling Psychology and have been a counselling psychologist at a primary school for the past 1 year. I love doing absolutely anything that mends a mind and soothes a soul. Most often than not, I ponder over to come up with poems. A wandering soul in search for meaning.
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