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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ashley Jacobson

Understanding Attachment Styles and How It Impacts Relationships

Everyone has an attachment style that develops starting from childhood. Attachment styles refer to how people think about and behave in relationships. People develop their attachment style in childhood and it strongly impacts romantic and other relationships throughout life. Most people have a primary attachment style, however, it is common to have some traits from other styles. Many factors play a role in the development of an attachment style, such as parenting style, childhood events, and adult experiences. Additionally, partners in a relationship can influence each other’s attachment style, either negatively or positively. Having a good understanding of your attachment style can help you to understand your relationships and provide insight into building a secure attachment. Outlined are some of the common attachment styles that will help you to identify which attachment style or characteristics you resonate with.

Anxious Attachment Style

When someone exhibits an anxious attachment style, they may often feel incomplete without their partner and may seek excessive reassurance or struggle with jealousy. Additionally, this style is characterized by distrust of the partner and relationship and fears of abandonment and rejection. This person may also be more likely to have increased sensitivity to criticism. People with an anxious attachment style value their relationships highly, but they are often hyper-vigilant towards their security in the relationship.

Avoidant Attachment Style

This attachment style is characterized by coming across as emotionally detached and aloof. Someone with an avoidant attachment will tend to avoid intimacy, vulnerability and commitment. They may also spend time away from their partner. Individuals with this attachment style might come across as overall rigid, distant, and guarded. They further have difficulty expressing needs and wants and are uncomfortable with emotions and conflict. This style is also characterized by not wanting to depend on others, have others depend on them, or seek social support and approval. People with avoidant attachment may withdraw from a relationship if they begin to feel that their partner is becoming too dependent/reliant on them.

Anxious-Avoidant Attachment Style

When someone displays an anxious-avoidant attachment style, they will alternate between these styles. This may come across as simultaneously desiring and distrusting intimacy with their partner. This will result in contradictory and inconsistent behavior. Individuals with this attachment style have a tendency to express extreme emotions, have difficulty maintaining healthy boundaries, and are prone to high conflict relationships. Given that this style contains both avoidant and anxious traits, it can come across as confusing to their partner.

Secure Attachment Style

When someone has developed a secure attachment, they typically engage in healthy relationships and include healthy communication and autonomy. Someone with secure attachment is able to express their needs well, trusts their partner, and finds the relationship fulfilling. Within a secure attachment style, this individual is committed to a relationship but independent. They are also accepting and able to handle and resolve conflict in a healthy way.


Creating Healthy Secure Attachment

To help foster a secure attachment within your relationship, it is first helpful to learn about your attachment style. By understanding your own attachment style, this will help you to learn about the associated thoughts and behaviors that you utilize within your relationship. Additionally, this is how you can help to identify unhelpful patterns of behavior. Once you have examined your attachment style, you can begin taking small steps to learning skills to promote a secure attachment style. For example, if you have an avoidant attachment style, you may want to start taking small steps to let your guard down and initiating intimacy. Or, if you have an anxious attachment style, your first step might include developing more independence within your relationship.

While your are taking small steps to create a secure attachment style, you will also want to increase your emotional awareness. This can be done by learning to express and tolerate your emotions. One helpful way to do this is by going by going to therapy, which can provide you with skills to regulate your emotions. Communication is also key and secure attachment requires communicating in a respectful and open way. When conflict arises, you want to collaborate with your partner to help each other feel understood and connected even when you disagree. To help reduce stressors, you can also be proactive with your partner, by addressing conflict before it escalates. For example, you and your partner can engage in calming activities/relaxation exercises to alleviate stress.

When To Seek Additional Support

If you are noticing signs of anxious attachment or avoidant attachment styles, it can be helpful to work with a therapist to help identify patterns of behavior and also to elicit changes in behavior. Additionally, working with a therapist will allow you to process your emotions associated with your attachment style. Other goals of therapy might include improving communication and independence.

At Balanced Minds Psychology & Wellness we specialize in assisting individuals navigating life’s challenges. To learn more about me and the services I provide, checkout my profile. If you are ready to start the therapy process, contact us today to start a free consultation.


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