What is Attachment Style?
How do you usually respond to your significant other during a conflict? Your attachment style largely determines the ways you interact with your significant other. Attachment style is related to how safe you feel in your relationship.
Relationships with your parents or caregivers as an infant tend to impact your attachment style. How would you describe your parents? Individuals tend to seek out partners who resemble their parent’s styles of relating. In what ways does your partner resemble your parents?
Secure attachment is the main and most positive attachment style. Individuals with secure attachment feel safe opening up about their feelings and needs in relationships. There is a healthy sense of dependency within secure relationships because the individuals trust each other to be there in times of stress.
Simply holding the hand of a loved one can decrease the experience of pain for individuals with secure attachment. Secure, loving bonds literally soothe your brain and decrease stress. With that being said, individuals with secure attachment experience fewer health problems.
On the other hand, individuals with insecure attachment often experience a fear of either losing their partner or themselves in the relationship. For some, there is a combination of both fears, and as a result, there is a conflict over whether to withdraw from or cling to a partner. During times of stress, these individuals do not know how to react and ask themselves, “How will my partner react if I reach for them”?
What are insecure attachment styles?
- Anxious→wants excessive intimacy/closeness and clings to relationships
- Avoidant→avoids seeking or giving support when feelings of insecurity arise with them or their partner
Imagine that you and your partner argue. You’re left feeling hurt and as if your effort is not good enough. What does the argument trigger for you? What do you need to hear from your partner? Are you able to tell your partner, “I need _____ from you”?
Common Fears for Individuals with Insecure Attachment:
Are you there for me?
Do my needs matter?
Do I matter?
What if I lose myself in this relationship?
What if I’m not good enough?
Am I safe?
Developing Secure Attachment
For individuals, therapy can provide the opportunity to experience a secure therapeutic relationship. Therapists provide clients with safety, unconditional positive regard, and the freedom to explore beliefs and values. This relationship models the aspects of a secure, romantic relationship.
Further, the self-awareness gained through therapy increases your ability to identify needs in relationships, and in turn, provides a foundation for communicating the needs to one’s partner. You can’t communicate your needs to your partner without awareness of them. Awareness precedes action, and action precedes change!
In general, you can increase levels of secure attachment by daring to reach for your partner–even in difficult times. Dr. John Gottman, renowned couples therapist, refers to these moments as “sliding door moments,” and suggests that they are the key to building trust, which is the basis of a secure bond.
Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson is an excellent resource for individuals/couples who want to promote secure attachment outside of therapy.
“Every dragon you face makes the bond of trust and love between you stronger” –Dr. Sue Johnson
Attachment Style Quiz: http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl
The linked attachment quiz provides in-depth information about your personal attachment style. Simply taking the quiz allows for reflection and a deeper exploration of how you interact in relationships.
The purpose of this post is to discuss the role attachment style plays in your close relationships. What is your attachment style? How does your attachment style impact your relationships? If you worry that your attachment style has a negative impact on your relationships, then I encourage you to contact our office at (980)-237-7732 and set up an appointment.
By: Ashlyn Boredolon, Counseling Intern at Winthrop University