Amanda P. Johnson, MS, LAMFT • [email protected]
In any love relationship (romantic relationships, parents, and children) it is important to be aware of your Attachment Style. An Attachment Style is the way you interact and relate in your love relationships. It is a general pattern of connecting and disconnecting with loved ones. It is influenced by the relationship you had with your parents as a child. The way parents related with you as you were growing up, influences and shapes how you interact as an adult in romantic relationships. Furthermore, if you have children, it shapes the way you parent and interact with your children. (You can start to see how a pattern develops here.)
- Influence how we seek connection in relationships
- Influence how we deal with conflict in relationships
- Influence how we feel about ourselves, others, and see the world
- Influence the type of partners we end up with
Everyone has an attachment style. There are four categories people fall into. One BIG distinction to note is Attachment Style is DIFFERENT from personality. When exploring your Attachment Style, think about your romantic relationships when reading below (NOT how you handle work, when the waiter brings you the wrong food, friendships, how you are at a party, etc.)
- Secure Attachment
- Comfortable with intimacy, seeks intimacy
- Healthy level of dependence and independence
- Trusts self and others
- Positive view of self and others
- Anxious Attachment
- Wants a lot of intimacy and closeness
- Seeks reassurance in relationship or very dependent in relationship
- Very focused on status of closeness, togetherness, and intimacy in the relationship
- Negative view of self
- Avoidant Attachment
- Uncomfortable with intimacy, closeness, and vulnerability (can see it as a weakness)
- Extremely independent
- Can come off as aloof, distant
- Positive view of self (can see independence as a strength)
- Disorganized Attachment *can be associated with trauma and/or abuse*
- Craves intimacy but gets scared when intimate or vulnerable
- Assumes they will be hurt
- Extremely fearful of rejection
- Negative view of self
Any of these sound familiar? Attachment Styles are normal and valid ways to learn to manage distress and connection in relationships. It is also possible to have some Secure Attachment + Anxious Attachment strategies or some Secure Attachment + some Avoidant Attachment strategies. In fact, when most couples are distressed and feeling disconnected, they fall on some spectrum of Anxious or Avoidant Attachment as a way to manage conflict and disconnection. It is easy to see how these different styles can keep perpetuating conflict.
It is important to be compassionately curious about them in order to understand your romantic relationships better. With curiosity and self-reflection it is completely possible to begin to understand some really important relationship patterns. Attachment Styles can be windows into the inner world of you and your partner.
It is completely possible through therapy, emotion regulation, self-reflection, and a willingness to grow that a more secure attachment style is possible! Your Attachment Style is not a fixed quality about you. It is a normal way to manage distress and connection in a relationship that may not always be the most helpful in feeling secure with your partner.
At Relate Counseling, we love helping individuals and couples understand more about their Attachment Style, how it impacts their relationships, and how to feel more connected & handle conflict better in your relationships.