Do you feel like you are always having issues in your love life and you don’t know what to do about it? If so, you should really examine yourself and your attachment style. Attachment styles in relationships play an important role in your love life.
What is an attachment style and how exactly can it affect your relationships?
Basically, it’s a scientific explanation for how and why you emotionally attach to other people (or don’t). And, it all starts in your childhood.
In this article, we will look into the different types of attachment styles, how they affect your relationships, and what you can do to lead a healthy relationship.
How Does Your Attachment Style Develop?
Believe it or not, it all starts in infancy. It is a condition where an infant or young child does - or does not - have healthy attachments to their parents or caregivers.
For example, if a child’s basic needs aren’t met, such as comfort, affection, and nurturing, it will negatively affect their relationships later in life. It is vital for a child to have their emotional and physical needs consistently met. When a baby cries, they are signaling to the caregiver that they are hungry or that their diaper needs changed. If they are ignored, it affects the human being on a subconscious level.
Most parents meet this need with some sort of emotional exchange such as looking into the baby’s eyes, holding them, smiling, caressing, or talking to them. But for some people, this is not what happened to them, and thus, they lack the ability to attach to other people.
If a child is not getting their emotional needs met, certain signs and symptoms can be exhibited by young children. They include some of the following: unexplained withdrawal, fear, irritability, sadness, failure to smile, not reaching out for touch, and no interest in playing interactive games.
When these needs are ignored or met with a lack of emotional response from the caregiver, it sets the stage for problems with relationships later in life.
Types of Attachment Styles and How They Affect Your Love Life
This may be the first time you are hearing of this phenomenon called attachment styles. But researchers have done many studies about how people emotionally attach (or detach) themselves from other people, and they categorized into the following:
1. Secure Attachment Style
People with the secure attachment style are the ones who feel confident in themselves and aren’t afraid to emotionally attach to other people (or have others attach to them). Typically, these people were raised in loving homes by parents who were dependable and satisfied their emotional needs.
As a result, the person grows up trusting other people and sees mostly advantages to getting emotionally close to other people. They find it fulfilling, and they tend to have pretty healthy relationships because of it. Since their emotional needs were met by their caregivers early in life, they tend to trust people and have higher self-esteem.
Because of this, they do not chase after people, nor do they run away from them (or emotional intimacy). They don’t see a need for either of these. Instead, their attitude is, “I am a worthy person. I deserve love. And if you don’t want to give it to me, then I will find someone else who will.”
2. Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style
If someone has the anxious-preoccupied attachment style, they tend to feel “needy” in relationships. They might fear that other people will abandon them, cheat on them, or simply not love them. Their self-esteem isn’t particularly high.
They become this way, of course, because of their parents as well. Their caregivers were not trustworthy or dependable. Therefore, they grow up to think that people may not love them, so they always feel the need to be the “chaser” in a relationship.
These are the people who could become known as “clingers.” They have the tendency to emotionally (or physically) smother their partner because of their anxiety. As a result, their partner may pull away from them. And this, in return, makes the person even more anxious.
As you can see, this style can pose some significant challenges in relationships later in life. If they are coupled with a secure attacher, then they will probably feel scared because their partner doesn’t understand why they need constant attention. And if they are with the dismissive-avoidant type of person (read below), things could be even worse for reasons that will be clear once you read that description.
3. Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment Style
The dismissive-avoidant attachment style is almost the opposite of people with the anxious-preoccupied attachment style. Instead of being the “chaser” in a relationship, they are the “runner.” They try to avoid attachment and are uncomfortable being emotionally close to anyone.
The parents of these types of people were also not dependable and didn’t meet their children’s emotional needs. As a result, they expect that people will not always be there for them, so in order to protect themselves, they avoid emotionally attaching to people so they will stay safe from pain and hurt feelings.
As you might expect, having a relationship between a “chaser” (anxious-preoccupied) and a “runner” (dismissive-avoidant) can be a train wreck. One is always trying to get attention, affection, and love; and the other is trying to run away from that. This is not a good dynamic at all.
Secure-attachers also have a problem with dismissive-avoidants. They don’t understand why they have a need to avoid intimacy, since they are completely comfortable with it.
So, as you can see, this style will encounter some problems in their relationships later in life.
The Most Severe Type: Reactive Attachment Disorder
The effects of being severely emotionally neglected by your caregiver can result in an extreme attachment disorder called Reactive Attachment Disorder. And, the long-term effects in adulthood can be significant.
RAD causes people to have an inability to fully experience relationships because they don’t have a positive sense of self. In addition, their overall mental health could be compromised. They often have dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Because of these negative feelings, adults with RAD might have trouble adjusting in many areas of their lives, not just relationships. The disorder causes low self-esteem, and they don’t believe in themselves or their ability to live a good life. This is especially true if someone has not received any treatment for it.
But how do you really know if you (or your partner) has it? Well, here are some typical signs and symptoms. Take a look and see if you (or they) fit into these categories:
- Control Issues
- Inability to show affection
- Lack of sense of belonging
- Sense of distrust
- Withdrawal from connections
- Anger problems
- Inability to create and maintain relationships of all kinds
- Feelings of loneliness or emptiness
- Inability to understand emotions
- Craving love, but an inability to give or receive it
- Little emotional investment
- Lack of emotional support
- Reluctance to share or self-disclose
- Avoidance of physical intimacy
- Lack of empathy
- Lack of remorse
Even if you think you or your partner may have RAD, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Obviously, these symptoms cause a person's stress, but there are ways to treat the disorder.
Tips to Follow to Improve Your Attachment Style
If you think that your attachment style is causing problems in your relationships, don’t worry. There are ways you can control your issues so they don't come roaring out while you are on a date or in a relationship.
1. Take Baby Steps
Don’t expect to change overnight. You have spent a whole lifetime being like this, so changing some of your issues will take time.
Be patient with yourself but also stay mindful of your behavior and feelings at all times.
2. Communicate with Your Dates or Partners
After you get to know your date or partner a little, you might want to talk about your attachment style.
You don’t have to go into a lot of detail, but just let them know that your behaviors aren’t about them, but rather about you. So, they shouldn’t take it personally. Also, ask them about theirs.
3. Seek Professional Help
It’s really difficult to solve all your emotional issues by yourself. A lot of people think that seeing a therapist shows weakness, but actually, it shows strength. Here's why asking for help is a sign of strength
You would be surprised how helpful a professional would be in getting over your attachment problems.
If you think that your attachment style is causing problems in your love life, then you should take some action. Call a therapist or set up a session with a dating coach.
You can and will overcome your attachment issues, but only if you start to work on yourself. So why not start today? You’ll be happy you did.
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