Keys to Improve Your Romantic Success – 3 Relationship Attachment Styles You Need to Work With or Overcome
Are you someone who cannot live without having a romantic relationship or the opposite, having a partner terrifies you? Or do you take relationships as they come and are happy to be in a healthy one? Answering these questions can help pinpoint your relationship style, which in turn helps you improve your romantic relationships.
The Attachment Theory
Since you are born, you crave having close and loving relationships. Social psychologists have studied the way babies react when their mothers are not around, and found that the bond between a baby and the caregiver is what evolves into finding attachment relationships in you adulthood.
The attachment theory was developed by psychologist John Bowlby, who studies the nature of attachments between a baby and the parents. Feeling attached, the child turns to the parents when they feel threatened, as well as feeling safe in the company of the parents and always wants to stay close to them.
Throughout childhood, you develop key core beliefs based on how your parents act. Are they supportive and loving or strict and cold? Based on who the young you observed your first caregivers to be, you will expect the same from all people.
Psychologists Philip Shaver and Cindy Hazan took the attachment theory and applied it to adulthood and adult relationships. Their finding matched their theory—adults carry the same attachment styles and beliefs as their younger selves. What you unconsciously decided as a child to be true, you still believe as an adult—consciously or unconsciously.
Stories Your Mind Tells You
Your unconscious beliefs are stories that run your life.
“I am not good enough. I feel unlovable. I’m unworthy of a partner.” are just some of the examples of negative talk or stories that can run unconsciously in the background of the mind. These stories have a huge effect on your life until you pause and contemplate their existence and why you believe them. In psychology, they are also known as ‘core beliefs.’ These stories or core beliefs determine your relationship attachment style.
Three Relationship Attachment Styles
There are three main relationship attachment styles: secure, avoidant, and anxious.
Secure style usually means you had a healthy childhood, the other two styles point to some early life problems. No matter what style you have, you can absolutely have a successful, healthy relationship. Information about relationship attachment styles can help you work towards a good relationship or improve an existing one.
Knowing you and your partner’s styles can help you understand yourself and each other, as well as to give you pointers on how to love each other more completely and how to debate with each other in a healthy way.
Secure attachment style comes from a good childhood. It usually comes from good connection to your parents, which feels safe and secure but not smothering.
It is the healthiest relationship attachment style. Secure style means that you are comfortable with intimacy and tend to choose fulfilling relationships.
If your attachment style is secure, any conflicts with your partner should be easy to overcome. You can see your partner’s flaws but not focus on them. When your partner points out your flaws, you can understand and be supportive of their feelings without becoming angry or defensive.
You also do not feel the need to play games, manipulate another, or get in a cycle of constant fighting mixed with criticism.
The anxious attachment style means that you can be overly dependent, needy, and unhappy because of constant fears of ending up alone again.
This style prevents you from enjoying the present moment, instead all of the energy goes into planning the future while worrying that it won’t go as planned.
People with anxious attachment style often place their partner or a potential mate on a pedestal and put high hopes on them, which are often unrealistic. That is because they want to be rescued by their partner, like by a hero in a movie. They need another to feel complete.
This attachment style can actually push the partner away as being this clingy while being afraid that the other person will leave them can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Avoidant attachment style can make a person avoid romantic relationships altogether. They either never date or they sabotage relationships by breaking up early—feeling so afraid of being left alone that they force themselves to leave first.
This is a subconscious defense mechanism telling the person that they do not want to get hurt ever again like the very first their caregiver hurt them.
Avoidant attachment style manifest in one of two ways. The first one is dismissive. A dismissive person will distance themselves from the partner and even become self-absorbed. The second way is fearful. A fearful avoidant will be equally afraid of getting close to their partner and of getting distant from their partner and losing them.
This leads to intense mood swings and drama.
Now What? How To Break The Cycle
It is hard to change your relationship attachment style completely (although 30% successfully do so), but you can alter it by working through your emotions and subconscious feeling and choosing healthier relationships. If one person in the relationship has a secure attachment style, it makes it so much easier to work and improve the relationship.
Also, by knowing your style and its challenges, you can work on eliminating your insecurities and bettering your communication and understanding of each other.
“By becoming aware of your attachment style, both you and your partner can challenge the insecurities and fears supported by your age-old working models and develop new styles of attachment for sustaining a satisfying, loving relationship.” writes clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone.