Did you know that when it comes to relationships, your attachment style can heavily determine whether they will be successful or not? Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who was emotionally unavailable? What about someone who was emotionally exhausting?
People give up on finding “the one” after experiencing a relationship or two with someone who has either style. Self-doubt sets in and you think, “something must be wrong with me.”
To understand this phenomenon you must first understand attachment theory, one of the most well-researched theories in the field of relational psychology. Attachment theory describes how our early relationships with a primary caregiver, most commonly a parent, create our expectations for how love should be.
Our view of ourselves and others is molded by how well these caregivers were available and responsive to meet our physical and emotional needs. In our adult relationships, our attachment system is triggered by our romantic partners.
The Attachment Alarm
How are we triggered? Think about the availability of your primary caregiver.
- Were they neglectful, always there for you, or inconsistent?
- Who did you go to when you had a problem?
- Was there someone there you could really count on?
You can start to identify your own attachment style by getting to know the four patterns of attachment in adults and learning how they commonly affect couples in their relationships.
According to attachment theory, you have a secure attachment style if a caregiver was responsive and available to you as a child, making you feel safe and secure. Creating a secure attachment is important for dating to create a healthy relationship. In a secure relationship, your partner is there for you and has your back. If you are an insecure style (and you choose someone with an insecure style), you will continually be triggered and never feel safe or secure in your relationship.
If your caregiver was unresponsive, you form an insecure attachment pattern.
An insecure attachment style manifests in three main ways.
1. Anxious Attachment
Develops when a caregiver has been inconsistent in their responsiveness and availability, confusing the child about what to expect. As an adult, this person acts clingy at times and finds it difficult to trust their partner.
2. Avoidant Attachment
Develops when a caregiver is neglectful. These are the children that play by themselves and develop the belief that no one is there to meet their needs. As adults, they typically label themselves as very independent.
3. Disorganized Attachment
Develops from abuse, trauma, or chaos in the home. A child learns to fear the caregiver and has no real “secure base.”
All of these styles influence the way you behave in your romantic relationships and how you find a romantic partner.
So, this begs the question, can one change their attachment style to a more secure way of relating?