Attachment styles are patterns of relating to others that develop in early childhood. They are influenced by our early experiences with caregivers, and they can have a profound impact on our relationships throughout our lives.
There are four main attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized.
- Secure attachment: People with a template for secure attachment often feel comfortable and secure in their relationships. They feel loved and supported by their partners, and they are able to rely on them for comfort and support. Please note that when triggered, people often swing to the anxious or avoident side of the attachment spectrum. No one is one hundred percent secure all the time. It is important to take the stigma and shame out of having an insecure attachment style.
- Anxious attachment: People with an anxious attachment style tend to worry about their relationships. They may feel insecure and need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They may also be perceived as clingy and demanding. They crave connection in times of stress.
- Avoidant attachment: People with an avoidant attachment style tend to be independent and self-reliant. They may have difficulty trusting others and may be reluctant to get close to people. They may also be emotionally distant and unavailable. A person with an avoidant attachment style my need space in times of stress.
- Disorganized attachment: People with a disorganized attachment style may have difficulty forming close relationships. They may feel anxious and avoidant at the same time. They may also have difficulty regulating their emotions. They crave connection but also fear it.
Attachment styles are not fixed. They can change over time, depending on our experiences and our relationships. They can also change depending upon the attachemnt style of the person you are in relationship with. For instance, if you tend to be more anxiously attached and you find yourself in a relationship with someone who is even MORE anxiously attached than you: you may start showing avoident tendancies in that relationship. If you are struggling with your attachment style, there are things you can do to improve it. Therapy or coaching can be helpful, as can learning about attachment styles and how they work.
Here are some tips for improving your attachment style:
- Become aware of your attachment style. The first step to improving your attachment dynamic is to become aware of it. Once you know what your attachment style is, you can start to understand how it is affecting your relationships.
- Challenge your negative beliefs about relationships. People with insecure attachment styles often have negative beliefs about relationships. These beliefs may have been formed in childhood, based on your early experiences with caregivers. It is important to challenge these negative beliefs and to replace them with more positive ones.
- Learn how to regulate your emotions. People with insecure attachment styles often have difficulty regulating their emotions. This can lead to problems in relationships, as it can be difficult to communicate effectively when you are feeling overwhelmed by your emotions. There are a number of techniques you can learn to help you regulate your emotions, such as mindfulness and deep breathing.
- Practice secure attachment behaviors. There are a number of behaviors that are associated with secure attachment. These behaviors include being open and honest with your partner, being able to ask for what you need, and being able to provide support and comfort to your partner. Practicing these behaviors can help you to develop a more secure state within the relationship.
If you are struggling with your attachment style, know that you are not alone. Attachment dynamics show up in EVERY relationship. Many people struggle in this area and there are things you can do to improve it. With time and practice you can develop more security and have healthier, more fulfilling relationships.