Attachment Theory Explains Why Your Relationships Fail

Attachment Theory Explains Why Relationships Fail

We Love Relationships That Confirm Our Insecurities

If you pay close attention to the romantic relationships of your friends and family, you’ll see very clear patterns. You’ll notice that security stays in love with security, and insecurity stays in love with insecurity, even though those insecurities show up differently.

Specific relationships evoke specific reactions. These reactions are then interpreted to confirm our internal beliefs about ourselves and others. Married people with bad attachment beliefs will reject their spouse who see them positively until their partners perceive them the way they see themselves. Even in dating, people with negative self-views often choose partners that offer negative evaluations to confirm their self-views.

Related: How Can I Love Someone Who Abuses Me? Psychology of Toxic Relationships

So what makes this so hard? These interactions go far smoother in the beginning of the relationship, because their pathologies support their self-beliefs.

People with negative self-views (anxious) are most intimate with spouses who evaluate them negatively (avoidant), despite the fact that these spouses are unlikely to enable them to improve themselves.[6.Self-Verification Theory Research Paper: Swann, W. B., Jr., De La Ronde, C. & Hixon, J. G. (1994). Authenticity and positivity strivings in marriage and courtship. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 857-869.] In my opinion, this is the most Toxic Relationship of All.

Attachment Strategies Are Not Permanent

Studies show that over time, 30% of the population changes[7. Research Paper: Davila, J., Burge, D., & Hammen, C. (1997). Why does attachment style change?. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 73(4)] their attachment dominate strategy.

No one changes from fundamentally insecure to secure under conditions of fear, disapproval, or threat of abandonment. This is why an Anxious and Avoidant couple struggle together. Only through acceptance, respect, support, and safety will anyone gain the security to climb the emotional mountain to becoming more secure.

No article, book, workshop or religion can alter our sense of security in our relationships. We are hurt by people, therefore we can only be healed by people. This person can be a relationship coach, therapist, or a romantic partner who is secure. If you spend enough time in a secure relationship, you’ll become secure!

Either way, changing your relationships requires a change in your beliefs. A change in the way you see yourself in your relationships.

Ultimately the relationship advice I offer my clients is self-help in disguise. If you want to change the people that are attracted to you, then you need to change your beliefs.

If you want to change your current relationship, you need to change the underlying beliefs that cause the problem. And how those beliefs create the expectations and values that are not communicated, which ultimately causes couples to fight.

If you want to improve your relationship, improve yourself. If you want better dating opportunities, improve yourself. If you have marital problems, improve yourself.

When you improve yourself, you cultivate a higher level of expectations for the people in your life. This puts other person in a dilemma. They have the choice to either improve themselves and rise up to your new expectations, or they stay where they are at and let the relationship die.

Related: 26 Little Lessons I Learned About Love From Relationships Without A Label

Either way, it’s a win-win situation. When you improve yourself, you improve the quality of your relationships. The relationships that don’t improve along with you cease to exist.

If an artist takes such pains with the plaster that he is forming so that it may harden into a shape of beauty, what care should we take of the relationships which are to affect so permanently shaping our minds, bodies and soul?


This article was originally published on Healthy Relationships with Kyle Benson.

For three powerful tools to change your beliefs in your relationship, snag my passionate relationship toolkit here.

16 thoughts on “Attachment Theory Explains Why Your Relationships Fail”

  1. Avatar of Donn English

    I’ve been studying this for a couple years now, and I think what it unfortunately boils down to is learning to recognize somebody’s attachment style early and getting out quickly if it isn’t a match. You’ll drive yourself crazy thinking you can fix it.

    1. Avatar of Jannifer Stoddard

      So true. I’m fairly new to it. Wow, was it eye-opening when I read that book Attached by Amir Levine. Avoidants are the most toxic and usually have no desire to address anything. Toxic, even if it’s just business and you end up getting too close to them. Painful lesson!

    2. Avatar of Jannifer Stoddard

      Donn English have an extra copy of the book Attached if you happen to want it. I was going to give it to the avoidant in my life – but there was no interest in it (of course).

  2. Avatar of Jannifer Stoddard

    Some critical parts of this article is misleading. It states that anxious attachment style is the most toxic, which is not remotely correct. The BEST on this subject is the book – Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Amir Levine. This is by far one of the very best accurate and most enlightening books on the subject attachment theory.

  3. Avatar of Jannifer Stoddard

    Whoever wrote this needs to read the book – Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love by Amir Levine. This is by far one of the very best accurate and most enlightening books on the subject attachment theory.
    The AVOIDANT attachment style is the most toxic attachment style of all – NOT the anxious attachment style. It’s virtually impossible or very rare for an avoidant to change, as they have no desire to do so. Plus they can have other severe personality disorders, mental illnesses and chronic drug use along for the ride that makes it a horrifically toxic mix that cannot be matched by anything else.
    It’s unfortunate that misleading information is being put out there (pinging Anxious types as being the most toxic) that would end up not helping people. If people can just read the book Attached by Amir Levine, that will set them on a life-giving enlightened track to wholeness. Anyone – secure types or anxious types need to completely disconnect from the most toxic (avoidant) type to save their own sanity and distance themselves from the toxicity of the avoidant as much as possible. They generally cannot be helped or saved and will be extraordinarily harmful, causing deep wounding to whomever is unfortunate enough to get tangled up with them.

  4. Avatar of Edith Stein

    I’m blocked again from ‘Laugh or Croak’. Apparently I have to live with the idea that the whole world considers me some kind of wastebin for all the negative things they can think about attributing to people.

  5. Avatar of Edith Stein

    A secure attachment style requires too much maturity for some people and doesn’t fit in with their avoiding strategies treating people.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top