Have you ever felt lost in a new relationship or even in a mature one? Maybe one minute feeling anxious for your companions’ love and then the next wanting space and not sure if you want the relationship? Or maybe perhaps you feel you need your companion’s love all the time and when they choose to hang out with a friend or ask for some space you question their love for you? Or maybe you long for a relationship but once you get into one you don’t know how or refuse to express your feelings, are unaffectionate, or tend to get overwhelmed when a partner asks or demands those things from you. Causing you to distance yourself.
Extensive scientific research has proven that everyone has a certain love attachment style or manner of behavior within relationships based on their childhood experiences. The attachment theory was introduced in the 1950’s and 60’s by British Psychologist John Bowlby. Individuals with a secure attachment were most likely as children raised in a household by parents or caregivers that offered consistent love, attention, and support. Children raised in these types of settings have been shown to form a secure attachment style. These individuals are secure within themselves, trusting of others, are comfortable with displaying interest and affection without worrying about what another person thinks. They are also able to correctly prioritize their relationships and set clear and healthy boundaries and stick to them. Individuals with an insecure attachment style may have struggled for attention as a child from distant or overworked parents that could possibly have been physically and emotionally abusive. Between the two attachments, four love attachment styles have been identified, One being the secure attachment style and the other 3 falling under the insecure attachment style. Most people think that people have to go through overt trauma, such as neglect or physical abuse to be deemed as someone who has issues with maintaining love but children who experience small emotional traumas that accumulate over time like hyper control from a parent which can relate to emotional dismissal can also develop these insecure love attachments.
The secure attachment
Having a trusting connection with your parent or primary caregiver as children will normally form the secure attachment style. These adults have no problem forming connections and building meaningful relationships that last with other people. People with this love style feel they can go to their partner with any issues or problems. Creating room for productive conversations. Individuals with this attachment style also have great trust in their partners and allow them to explore their own interests and pursue their own goals, but also understanding to work together to build a loving secure partnership for life. Individuals with a secure attachment style are still prone to disagreements but where those with a secure attachment style differ is in their ability to solve problems and find solutions instead of acting out or attacking their loved ones.
The anxious preoccupied attachment
Adults who have an anxious attachment style usually grow up with parents or caregivers who are inconsistent in giving love, attention, and support. One moment the parent may be nurturing and attuned to the child’s needs and then the next the parent or caregiver could be insensitive, emotionally unavailable, or cold. This behavior can cause confusion and insecurity since they have no idea what behavior to expect. To get their emotional needs met these children will throw temper tantrums or raise their emotional state to get the love and attention they seek. Once the parent is paying attention the child is either too exhausted to receive the attention and in return they act cold hiding their true feelings of feeling abandoned since the emotional needs aren’t being met. Children who grow up to have an anxious attachment style grow into adults who usually attach to people that need saving or people that they feel can save them. Grown-ups with anxious attachment styles that attach to people who they feel need saving usually fall for the idea/ potential of the person but not the actual relationship. They spend their time always thinking of their partner, catering to their partners, making sure all of their needs are meant but rarely speak on their own, and don’t ask for help most times with an underlying fear of their partner abandoning them. Some people with anxious attachment love style tend to over-extend themselves thinking they are making themselves irreplaceable. Giving what they would want to receive, asking what they would want to be asked, and responding to things how they would want their partner to respond to them. Since so much is given by the partner with the anxious attachment they feel that their partners should be able to give them what they need without vocalizing it. This eventually builds up over time if not right away. Anxious attachment style lovers also come off majority of the time as the purser in relationships the ones that look for their partner to save them look for their partner to validate their self worth and constantly bring reassurance to the relationship, because of the inconsistent availability they experience as children from their caregivers they are sensitive to rejection. They anticipate rejection and look for signs that their partners are losing interest. These individuals usually are driven to engage in strategies to avoid being rejected, However, their excessive dependency, demands, and possessiveness tend to drive their partners away bringing the very thing that they don’t want. They feel resentful and angry when their partner doesn’t provide the attention and reassurance they feel they need. They often believe that unless they dramatically express their anxiety and anger, it is unlikely that the other person will respond to them. Many of those with anxious attachments are reluctant to express their angry feelings toward a partner for fear of potential loss or rejection. When they try to suppress their anger, their behavior tends to vacillate between outbursts of anger and pleas for forgiveness and support.
Dismissive Avoidant Attachment
Adults who grow up with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style usually grow up with parents or caregivers who were strict and punished them when they showed emotion or were too loud. So to not be punished or make their caregiver angry the child suppresses their emotions at home, school, from friends, etc. Subconsciously this leads the adult to have issues expressing their emotions since they were taught to not express how they feel without being punished. In relationships, these individuals are distant and detached. They come off as self-sufficient and independent. This is a cover-up for the inability to share their feelings and express their emotions. This individual will withdraw from the relationship at the first sign of conflict that forces them to express their emotions or situations where real intimacy needs to be shown. They are only usually able to express their emotions through rage. They seek solitude far more than most people.
Fearful Avoidant Attachment
Adults who grow up with a fearful-avoidant attachment usually have parents or caregivers who were emotionally or physically abusive and the displayed scary behavior from the caregiver could have been life-threatening. These children are in a terrible dilemma, their instinct may be to flee for safety but safety may be in the very person who is frightening them. Parents can frighten their children in different, often unconscious, ways. It might be through abuse or neglect, but it could also be through unresolved trauma and loss in the parent’s own life that leaves him or her feeling afraid, which unintentionally scares the child. When placed in such a situation as a child you become anxious and it disorganizes their beliefs about love, safety, & security. Causing fear without any resolution in the form of love. In response, they seek to avoid all social situations and contact with others. They see this as protecting themselves from harm. They become withdrawn and starved for love. As an adult having a fearful-avoidant attachment style of love can make it hard to maintain a stable healthy relationship. They simultaneously fear of being too close and too distant from their partner. Getting too close can be fearful since they are afraid of being abandoned. They struggle to build trust and rely on their partners to do all of the work of building and trusting and have little faith in their relationship. Besides behaving unpredictably their number one inner conflict is that they crave intimacy one minute and then they resist it out of fear of getting hurt the next.
Ways to become more secure in your love style attachment
If you identify with any of the insecure attachment types there are self-therapeutic and therapeutic ways to help you dig deep to find out what your traumas are and move past them so you can create better relationships. The first step is making sense of your story. Looking into each attachment style and seeing which one you feel you identify with and why putting the pieces together on why you carry toxic traits in relationships. Hiding from the past or burying the pain will only be triggered during moments of stress or with a partner. Allow yourself to grieve and go through the pain or sadness that your attachment style shows that you were neglected or unemotionally connected to your caregiver as a child. Now that you’re aware of your patterns, focus on rewiring your brain and commit to healthier ways of dealing in your relationships since now it’s been brought to the conscious mind. If you seek partnership, try to find a partner with a more secure attachment style, This may be hard to do since as humans we tend to attach to familiarness. For the anxious or anxious avoidant who feels they have to earn a partner’s love will need to work more on their self-worth and not get bored with a partner who doesn’t make them work for love that should be given freely in a relationship. While a dismissive or fearful-avoidant will need to work on being more present in the relationship and open up and stop avoiding partners who only ask for what is expected in a loving relationship. The Anxious, the fearful-avoidant, and the dismissive tend to attract each other due to the familiar trauma triggers they set off in each other. It is possible to have more than one attachment style. Even a secure attachment can display avoidant or anxious tendencies. Doing further research or possibly seeking a counselor or therapist can really help you pinpoint what your dominant attachment style is and can help you maneuver through to help you create healthier, loving relationships.
I’m hoping this blog post resonates with you and inspires you to listen or even join the Playing 4 Keeps podcast and look out for the dating app that will be available this year. If you can relate to this post please comment below with your own stories here or on www.p4kdatingapp.com.