Attachment styles

Attachment Styles And How They Affect Relationships

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Attachment styles in relationships is a topic of interest in people’s relationships and in research as it drives people to understand their thought patterns and behaviors. This level of interest is understandable since the various attachment styles in relationships may impact interpersonal relationships or interactions in various ways.
Attachment types develop early in life and remain stable over a period of time. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be changed into more secure forms of attachment. What it means is that you may require to develop self-awareness through mutual understanding and resolving these attachment issues.
The first step is to know how insecure attachment spark, develop and the influence they have on thoughts and actions within the relationships in our lives.

What are Attachment Styles and how do they Affect Relationships?

According to psychiatrist John Bowlby, an individual’s bond with their primary caregivers during childhood poses an influence on their future intimate relationships and relationships at work. In other words, this bond creates a foundation or the rules for how you build relationships in adult life.
The psychoanalyst’s work on attachment theory dates back to 1905 and continues to evolve based on the continuous research on the subject matter.

Attachment Types Develop in Childhood

Essentially, how a primary caregiver (usually parents) behaves towards their children or how they meet their child’s needs forms the basis of how their children perceives or act within intimate relationships.
This is because a child solely depends on their caregivers and seeks soothing ,comfort and support from them. If these caregivers offer a warm environment and attune to the child’s emotional and physical needs. The child remains securely attached even if these needs are not clearly expressed.
On the other hand, misattunement on behalf of caregivers towards their child’s emotional and physical needs may lead to an insecure attachment. Their misattunement may be unintentional but the child may perceive them as not attending to their needs.
Attachment styles are characterized by the behaviours an individual exhibits within a relationship, especially if the relationship is being threatened. For instance, an individual with a secure attachment style is able to share their feelings openly and seek emotional and psychological support when faced with relationship problems.
If you have an insecure attachment style, you tend to become clingy in your intimate relationships, behave in manipulative or selfish ways when feeling very vulnerable or you may shy away from intimacy.
Understanding how your attachment style influences the shape of your intimate relationships may help you make sense of your own behavior and how you respond to sexual intimacy. These patterns may help you clarify your needs in a relationship and how to overcome relationship problems.
Experiences in adulthood determine your attachment styles
             Experiences in adulthood determine your attachment styles
While attachment styles are shaped by the connection between an infant and primary caregiver, it’s worth noting that the strength of attachment isn’t based on the quality of care an infant receives or the level of parental love. It is founded on the nonverbal emotional communication between the infant and caregiver.
An infant sends non verbal signals like crying, pointing and smiling to their caregivers as a way of communicating their feelings. Their caregiver interprets these non verbal signals to satisfy the child’s need for attention, food or comfort. When this communication is successful,¬† a secure attachment develops.
The success of a relationship attachment is not just impacted by the relationship with your caregiver. Your personality and adult life experiences play a role in shaping the form of your attachment style. Therefore it’s not enough reason to blame your relationship problems to your parents.

Secure Attachment Style

Individuals with such an attachment style are able to set appropriate boundaries. They tend to feel safe and stable in their relationships. In as much as they don’t fear being on their own, they thrive in close relationships.

Secure Attachment Style and Adult Relationships

It doesn’t mean that such people don’t experience relationship problems, but they feel secure enough to take responsibility for their feelings and seek help and support whenever they need it.
You appreciate your self-worth and are able to be your self in any close released. You express your feelings, hopes and needs with ease.
You often find satisfaction in being around others, seek support from your partner but you don’t get anxious when your partner is far away from you.
You’re content with your partner relying on you for support.
You seek healthy ways for conflict resolution in your relationship.
You are resilient to bounce back even when faced with disappointment, misfortune or any significant set backs in your love life and other sectors in your life.

Primary Caregiver Relationship

Individuals with this attachment style are likely to have had primary caregivers who stayed engaged with them as an infant and effectively managed their stress and would calm and sooth them in times of distress.
Your primary caregivers made you feel secure and safe and responded to your needs regularly ensuring your nervous system became securely attached.
No parent or caregiver is perfect and no one can be fully present and attentive to your needs.
 Are you secure, insecure or there in between?
                 Are you secure, insecure or there in between?
If your caregiver missed out on your non verbal cues, they probably kept trying to figure out what your needs were, hence kept the secure attachment process on track. A foundation of a secure attachment bond enables a child to be hopeful comfortable and self-confident when they face conflict.

Are you secure or insecure‚ÄĒor somewhere in between?

Some people may identity with only some of the characteristics of a secure attachment style. Even if you have stable relationships, you may have behavioral or thinking patterns that may cause conflict with your partner and that need to be actively addressed.

Avoidant-Dismissive Attachment Style

Adults with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style don’t crave intimacy rather they are wary of closeness therefore tend to avoid being emotionally connected with other people. They don’t rely on others or expect others to rely on them. ¬†

Such people tend to find it difficult to tolerate emotional intimacy. They value your independence to a point where you are uncomfortable with intimacy or closeness in an intimate relationship.

  • You are independent and content taking care of yourself and you don’t feel like you need others.
  • You withdraw from people who get close to you or become needy.
  • You are uncomfortable with your emotions and romantic partners accuse you¬† of being closed off, you accuse them of being needy.
  • You disregard your partners’ feelings, engage in affairs ad are prone to ending relationships to gain your sense of freedom.
  • You seek out partners who are independent and emotionally distant to long-term intimate ones.

An avoidant-dismissive attachment style often stems from a caregiver who was rejecting or unavailable during infancy. Individuals with such caregivers are forced to distance themselves emotionally and build a foundation of avoiding intimacy and closeness.

Anxious Attachment Style

People with an anxious attachment style are overly needy. They are¬† anxious and lack self esteem. They crave emotional intimacy but are often anxious that people don’t want to be with them.

Such people are embarrassed about being clingy or constantly needy for attention and love. You may also feel worn down by fear and anxiety about whether your romantic partner loves you.

  • You want to be in a relationship and be intimate with your romantic partner but you struggle to feel that you can fully rely on your partner.
  • Your relationship takes over your life and you become overly fixated on the other person.
  • You find it difficult to respect boundaries something that can provoke fear that your partner may no longer want you.
  • You seek constant reassurance and attention from your romantic partner.

Individuals with this kind of attachment style had caregivers who were inconsistent, sometimes engaged or distracted and unavailable to your needs as an infant.

Such inconsistency may leave you feeling anxious about whether your needs in the relationship would be met and provide a template for your behaviour in later relationships.


Experiencing traumas in relationship as an infant may interrupt your attachment style or bonding process. It can result from anything including a stable or unstable home environment, illnesses, neglect or unsafe home environment or abuse.

When the trauma remains unresolved, feelings of helplessness, insecurity and fear can continue into adulthood. Even if  your trauma happened many years there are many steps you can take to regain emotional balance, overcome pain and learn to trust again in your relationship.

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