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Man holding woman representing different attachment styles

Is Your Attachment Style Damaging Your Love Life?

What’s Important to Know About Attachment Styles?

“How do you overcome an insecure attachment style?”

“Does your attachment style impact your sex life?”

“Is it possible to have a committed relationship with an avoidant attachment style?”

These are a few of the stories sweeping the web. So, what is an attachment style? And, does your attachment style really have any significance in your romantic relationships?

Dive into the History

A London psychiatrist, John Bowlby, came up with the “attachment theory” in 1958. Bowlby came up with his theory after working with emotionally disturbed children in the 1930s and what he witnessed as bonding between children and mothers. He believed children needed to successfully bond with their mothers during pivotal stages of growth to develop cognitively, emotionally, and socially.

Bowlby proposed the attachment formed with a primary caregiver, healthy or not, impacted the infant for life. According to Bowlby, if a primary caregiver is neglectful or abusive, the child grows up feeling insecure about the world and their place in it.

Read “How Your Attachment Style Impacts Your Relationship: What is your attachment style?” by Lisa Firestone, a clinical psychologist, for PsychologyToday.com to learn more about attachment styles.

Other researchers built upon Bowlby’s theory and created the stages of attachment for infants, attachment styles in adulthood, patterns of attachment for children, and attachment therapy. In the 1970s, psychologist Mary Ainsworth researched and named three styles of attachment: Secure attachment, ambivalent-insecure attachment, and avoidant-insecure attachment. Further research in the 1980s led to a fourth style named “disorganized-insecure attachment.”

Read “What Is Attachment Theory? The Importance of Early Emotional Bonds” by Kendra Cherry and published at VeryWellMind.com for more information about the history of attachment theory.

The Ranch Pennsylvania can clarify all the noise around attachment styles and relationships. Are you doomed to be alone if your mother didn’t bond well with you? No.

Let’s Look at the Facts

Secure Attachment

A securely attached person is formed when a primary caregiver provides a safe, consistent, loving place to grow as an infant. This baby is confident his most basic and emotional needs are satisfied without any drama. In adulthood, this attachment means you feel secure in the world and trust in interpersonal relationships.

Because you have such a strong foundation from childhood, individuals who are secure feel safe to explore and are more willing to share feelings and vulnerabilities.

Dismissive-Avoidant

If your primary caregiver gave you the sense you were rejected, due to neglect or abandonment, you might have a dismissive-avoidant attachment style.

Individuals in this category tend to keep to themselves emotionally and avoid getting too close to people. Trusting someone with your most vulnerable self is not your go-to.

When feelings come up, a dismissive-avoidant tends to try to solve the issue alone. They may even feel proud of their emotional independence. For an individual with a history of rejection during childhood and adolescence, dismissive-avoidant is the result, according to attachment theory. This is the woman who won’t commit and keeps romantic partners at arm’s length. The guy who gets his needs met with frequent one-night-stands, also known as the confirmed bachelor.

Learn more about the different attachment styles at AttachmentProject.com.

Anxious-Preoccupied

Declaring your “love” on a third date might be your style if you fall into the anxious-preoccupied style of attachment. As a child, your parents may have shown a lot of inconsistency with their attention. Maybe there were moments of devotion and love, while other times, you felt you had to earn your mother’s attention.

These inconsistencies create insecurity and low self-esteem in children.

According to attachment theory, a child who can’t count on security and nurturing from a parent develops into an adult who craves attention and love.

This style means you tend to act needy in relationships and look to others to satisfy all your needs.

Fearful-Avoidant

The fearful-avoidant person is all over the place. If this style fits your relationship patterns, you may be a trauma survivor or experienced a major loss in childhood. As adults, this individual is avoidant and anxious in romantic relationships.

As a fearful-avoidant, you may, according to attachment theory, find yourself wanting to feel emotionally close to a partner but also push them away repeatedly.

Children growing up with addiction tend toward this style of attachment. If security is lacking in a childhood home, but volatility is present, you could develop strong walls around any perceived vulnerabilities, like feelings.

Read “Which of These Four Attachment Styles Is Yours?” in Scientific American and written by Psychologist Jade Wu Savvy in June 2020.

Can You Change Your Attachment Style?

Yes. Attachment styles can change.

Maybe you grew up in an alcoholic home, but you have worked hard to confront the negative relationship patterns from your past. It’s also possible to meet someone with a secure attachment style and adapt to a different way of functioning within a relationship.

Use these definitions as a loose guide. If you decide help around relationships is in order, give The Ranch Pennsylvania a call at 717.969.9126.

Written by Heather Berry

Contributing Writer with Promises Behavioral Health

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