Attachment Styles: How Your Relationships Are Shaped By Your Past.

clock 5 Min Read

Brencia Daphne

June 9,2022

Every human being has an inherent need to feel accepted; to feel like they belong within a society and among loved ones. This need acts like a driving force to seek companionship with others. British psychologist John Bowlby, a pioneer in this field describes attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”

We all have a certain way of bonding with one another in relationships. This is often referred to as our “attachment style”. As we grow and experience life, our attachment styles manifest into friendly, romantic and even professional connections over time.

Our attachment styles are more than just how we behave in relationships. They’re a reflection of our deepest emotional needs and how we learn to deal with them. Knowing what our attachment style is can help us to better understand ourselves and create healthy relationships. Let’s see what kinds of attachment styles we have, and maybe this might help you determine yours!

The 4 Types of Attachment Styles

Secure Attachment - The Trustworthy & Comfortable Type

Trust, comfort, and intimacy are some of the characteristics of a secure attachment style. In relationships, people with a secure attachment style are often confident and comfortable. They aren't afraid to express their emotions and can deal with disagreement in a healthy manner.

Going back to the early years of life, a secure attachment style is developed when an infant develops a strong, emotional bond with their caregivers. The infant is nurtured into knowing that they can rely on their caregiver for love, support, and security. They feel comfortable exploring their environment and are confident in their caregiver’s protection.

These traits often lead to happier, more meaningful relationships in adulthood. People with a secure attachment type are more likely to communicate their thoughts, feelings, needs and expectations confidently. They trust their partners and encourage them to do the same. As a result, a wholesome bond of honesty and love is formed, wherein people are less prone to experiencing jealousy, insecurity, or anxiety between each other.

Avoidant Attachment - The Distant & Dismissive Type

A dismissive attitude toward potentially close connections characterises an avoidant attachment style. Individuals with this attachment style are compelled to be self-reliant and overly independent (often not in a healthy way). They keep their feelings concealed and avoid relying on others for help. Intimacy isn't their cup of tea, and they have a hard time building strong ties with the people they care about.

While people who have an avoidant attachment style may appear emotionally detached, it does not stop them from worrying about being abandoned. Remember what we said about human beings feeling the need to belong and feel accepted? There is a deep-rooted yearning in people who avoid forming close bonds, to avoid being deserted. The people they love are pushed away by their defence mechanism before they can get too close to “stay on the safer side”. A negligent childhood or unresolved trauma can lead to this attachment pattern.

While there are some advantages to being self-reliant, it can also make it difficult to rely on others when seeking help. Dealing with disagreement becomes strenuous for such people, and they’d rather prefer keeping their needs to themselves than communicate them openly. They may damage relationships unknowingly or choose partners who are emotionally distant or unavailable i.e. partners who are not ready to open their hearts and minds up to others. They may also suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem, making them feel as though they are just not “good enough” for others.

Anxious Attachment - The Worrisome & Insecure Type

A strong yearning for closeness is combined with a fear of rejection in an anxious attachment style. People who are anxiously attached are often preoccupied with their connections and fear rejection or abandonment. They find it hard to trust others and may come off as clingy or possessive of the people they care about.

The attachment style comes from the consequence of an abusive, neglected or invalidating upbringing that they’ve gone through as children. They may believe that they are unworthy of love or that they cannot trust others or they would get hurt by them eventually.

The eye-opening point here is that they have a deep need for love and closeness, like a ray of light amid the darkness. However, they feel anxious when it comes to maintaining long-term, healthy relationships or even initiating them in the first place. This can unconsciously force them to keep a distance from potentially close people. Feelings of jealousy and rejection sprout up in the minds of people with this attachment style, ultimately leaving insecure and threatened relationship ties in their wake.

Fearful-Avoidant Attachment - The Disorganised & Difficult Type

The chaotic of all, and at times the culprit of broken relationships is the fearful-avoidant attachment style, or in short “disorganised” type. People with this type struggle to find clarity in their relationships, often acting on the impulse of what they feel about their partners. They may show conflicting behaviours, such as excessive clinginess or completely detach themselves from others.

Children who have experienced abuse or have been neglected from a young age are more likely to develop this type. The child growing up might have desired to get close to their caregivers, but it might have been challenging to do so with the caregiver’s avoidance, emotional unavailability, or unreliability hindering them. As a result, children subconsciously adopt similar traits which lead them to be unable to form strong bonds.

The reason why this attachment style is also called “disorganised” is that people’s feelings and behaviour may constantly fluctuate - they’d be loving, and then at times, they’d become hostile. This can lead to relationship issues as they grow. By not being able to have healthy conversations with their loved ones, they might resort to harmful habits such as drug or alcohol abuse, as well as violence to cope with their problems.

Harnessing a Healthy Attachment Style Goes A Long Way

So now you’re wondering what you could do to build healthier relationships, because what could be better than bonding with your loved ones in a healthy manner, right? Here are a few steps you could take towards that goal:

Gain self-awareness

Becoming more self-aware is a good place to start. Assessing relationship patterns, expectations from them, and their roles in our lives can help us determine how healthy our bonds are.

Heart It Out’s Periodic Table Of Human Emotions helps recognise intense and fluctuating feelings. Using this could help us understand why certain emotions are so prominent, and what we could do to manage them better. Being aware of our emotions helps us stay mentally balanced as we deal with conflict in relationships. Our Gratitude Journal is a great addition to reflect on experiences and keep track of patterns!

Grow..and grow personally

The next step in your journey would be identifying realistic needs and setting small, practical, and achievable goals. As you progress and notice positive changes in yourself, you can consider making healthy long-term lifestyle changes and developing encouraging relationships.

Our Desk Calendar which comes with cute, inspiring quotes for each day, would be perfect for helping you set goals and stay on par with your tasks.

Take the attachment diagnostic test

An attachment style diagnostic test can provide valuable information about our personality, interests, and capabilities. This test can help us understand why we have trouble building deep relationships or why we behave in specific ways with them. We hope curiosity gets the best of you!

Seek Therapy - It’s all upward from here!

Seeking professional help is unquestionably the most effective and required solution. Therapy can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with other self-care techniques. People who have been through traumatic events or have a hard time maintaining healthy relationships are encouraged to seek psychological therapy as well as all the love and support they can get.

Heart It Out has a team of psychologists and psychiatrists who can support and guide you in the right direction. Relationship counsellors can help you dive deep into your attachment style, work through any unresolved issues, and learn how to form healthy attachments. Who said relationships have to be complicated? The right support always leads to strong, reliable, and fulfilling relationships.

Are you ready to build stronger bonds, create lasting, meaningful relationships, making your loved ones and yourself truly happy? Start here.

Written by Harshada Deokar

Edited by Alifiya Faizy& Brencia Daphnie for Heart It Out

So now you’re wondering what you could do to build healthier relationships, because what could be better than bonding with your loved ones in a healthy manner, right? Here are a few steps you could take towards that goal:

Seek Support Now