How do you interact with a romantic partner? Take a minute and ask yourself: Are you usually clingy and possessive? Do you have a tendency to push your partners away? Or are you comfortable with both giving and receiving love to your partner?
This pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving towards someone we’re in a relationship with is called an attachment style. There have been numerous studies conducted on attachment, many of which have consistently shown that people generally fall into one of the following categories: anxious, avoidant, or secure.
According to psychologists, we arrive at a particular attachment style based on how we were raised as a child. If your primary caregivers (e.g., our parents) consistently met your needs and were there when you needed them, you will normally grow up feeling secure in relationships.
However, if your caregivers were inconsistent in giving you attention, care, and nurturing, or were totally negligent, you may very likely develop an anxious or avoidant attachment style.
Since attachment style can affect your relationships – starting from how we select our partners to how we engage with them – knowing your pattern can definitely give you insight into your relationship behavior patterns. Understanding and recognizing strengths and weaknesses in relationships, leads to a better understanding of how to make them better.
If you are curious as to what type of attachment style you fall into, read on.
Anxious (Preoccupied) attachment style
People with an anxious attachment style love intimacy and being in a close relationship with someone. However, they tend to worry a lot about their romantic relationships, mostly about their partners not feeling the same way they do.
Anxiously attached people also see relationships as fragile and needing a lot of work, and they are often sensitive to their partner’s mood, always worried about the latter leaving them. Since they are preoccupied with being abandoned, they need a lot of reassurance that they are loved. They will usually come across as being needy and possessive, and oftentimes become overly dependent on their partners.
You can tell that you have an anxious attachment style if:
- You are always looking for signs of rejection from your partner, e.g., you will see even a simple thing like your partner not calling you as a sign of rejection.
- You avoid telling your partner what you think or feel for fear of driving them away. Instead, you mope, withdraw, or become passive-aggressive.
- You jump into another relationship as soon as your previous one ends, because you always want to be in a relationship.
- You want to become intimate too soon into the relationship which can scare partners away.
Avoidant (Dismissive) attachment style
Like anxiously attached people, those with avoidant attachment style also desire to be in an intimate relationship. However, their negative view of themselves and others leads them to pull away and avoid closeness with their significant other. Thus, they’re likely to be described as aloof, cold and emotionally unavailable by their partner.
Avoidants tend to see relationships as emotionally dangerous and too risky, hence they seek to push other people away first. They think that by avoiding closeness, they can protect themselves from heartbreak.
Avoidants also prize their independence, and they may see relationships as a threat to that. This makes them uncomfortable when their partner seeks to be emotionally closer to them, and leads them to find faults with partners as an excuse to end the relationship.
Here are some ways you can tell if you have an avoidant or dismissive attachment style:
- You don’t think you’re good enough to be loved.
- You think other people will only hurt you if you get into a relationship with them.
- You want to be in a relationship but you also don’t want to for fear of getting rejected or abandoned.
- You’re afraid of being hurt; you’d rather not be in a relationship at all.
- You have difficulty trusting that others will be there for you.
- If you’re in a relationship, you find it hard to share your thoughts and feelings with your partner for fear of being rejected or judged.
- Your relationships tend to be short.
- You’re more into casual sex.
Secure attachment style
Half of the population are said to have a secure attachment style. They are usually reliable and relationship-oriented. They can talk about their thoughts and feelings with their partner, and can respond appropriately to their partner’s needs. Securely attached people are comfortable with intimacy; they are also willing and able to address relationship problems and thus tend to have long-term relationships.
You know that you have a secure attachment style if:
- You are able to express and receive love freely with your partner.
- You have realistic expectations from a partner and you know how to set fair boundaries in your relationship.
- You have healthy self-esteem and can enjoy intimate relationships without thinking it will limit your independence.
- You can provide emotional support to your partner and seek it as well when you need it, without feeling vulnerable about it.
- You express satisfaction with your relationships.
We all want to have a secure attachment style in our relationships. However, no one is 100% secure; we have our own insecurities in some aspect of our lives. The idea is not to let these insecurities get in the way of our emotional bond with others.
If you have identified yourself as being anxious or avoidant, however, you should know that change is always possible. How you’ve been raised as a child doesn’t have to permanently affect how you deal with the people you love now. You can do something about it.
You can, for example, consciously choose someone with a secure attachment style, and work towards having the same. You can also seek therapy to help you develop new styles of attachment for maintaining a loving relationship in the long-term. Whatever course of action you may choose, we are here to help. Contact us today!