Understanding Attachment & How It Affects Your Ability To Form An Easy Relationship With Your Beloved
Understanding attachment begins with learning the four most common attachment styles. Once you know your partner’s and your attachment style, you will be able to develop more connection and closeness.
What Are The Most Common Attachment Styles?
The most common attachment styles are secure, insecure-anxious, insecure-avoidant and disorganized. Your attachment style develops based on the attachment you form with your primary caregiver during the first few years of childhood, and it is based on how your primary caregiver reads your cues, attends to you and cares for you.
When the primary caregiver responds on a consistent and regular basis to the child’s needs for nourishment, connection and love, the child will be more likely to develop a secure attachment. This child’s caregiver is sensitive and aware of the child’s need for safety and security and is able to be present to meet it.
In contrast, an insecure attachment develops when the child is uncertain if his/her needs will be met (creating an insecure-anxious attachment) or will have their needs be unmet and feel neglected (creating an insecure-avoidant attachment). When the child was young and expressed his/her needs, the parent might have been unresponsive, inconsistently responsive, dismissive or harsh.
Disorganized attachment, another insecure attachment style, occurs when the primary caregiver is very inconsistent and the child does not know what to expect. Usually, a trauma is involved in this instance: either the primary caregiver has sustained one, resulting in an inconsistent and unreliable parenting style, or the child has sustained a significant trauma in childhood, resulting in a lack of trust and security on his/her part.
Why Is It Important To Understand Your Attachment Style?
Understanding attachment styles will help you identify why you do or do not connect in secure and healthy ways in your relationship.
For example, insecure-avoidant partners will want to avoid fights and conflicts. For example, they will say “OK” to your questions, which is a way to stop the conversation.
The insecure-avoidant partner will usually say anything to stop the conversation, so even if that means conceding to something right now, that’s a win for him or her.
If you are a secure partner or an insecure-anxious person, you will accept the “OK” as an agreement and sign of understanding of what you have said when in actuality that is not the case. Of course, when you actually have to go to the event or deal with the situation, you will need to discuss the situation all over again, and you might wonder why you are having this discussion again.
For the insecure-avoidant partner, conflict and disagreement creates a sense of discomfort and feeling of entrapment, so the best way they know to end the conversation is with some sort of agreement or capitulation.
On the other hand, the insecure-anxious partner in conflict will talk, talk and talk more until they wear their partner down and get their partner to agree to the insecure-anxious perspective.
Insecure-anxious partners will want to talk a lot with their partners because they want to feel heard. If they don’t feel heard and understood, they will continue to try to get their point across to you, and this can continue indefinitely. They are also concerned that they will be abandoned, so they might be very clingy and display a tendency to call or text their partner a lot during the day to keep a connection.
Disorganized partners will have an intense need for closeness and a simultaneous intense need for distance. Their behavior can appear chaotic and confusing to their partner.
The push-pull feel that partners will experience as their disorganized partner moves between insecure anxious and insecure avoidant may be difficult to navigate. If you think you or your partner are disorganized, you may need to seek an attachment couples counselor to help you more effectively navigate your relationship.
Learn To Change Your Attachment Style
After understanding attachment and your own attachment style, you are now informed enough to decide, if your style is insecure, to change it.
You can learn to react differently to situations and pick partners who are more secure.
At the same time, if you and your partner are both insecure, you can learn, together, how to become a securely attached couple.
Usually, learning to change your attachment style means understanding more about attachment and/or seeking an attachment-based therapist to help you make adjustments to your way of connecting.
The four attachment styles – secure, insecure-anxious, insecure-avoidant and disorganized – have distinct influences on the creation or destruction of closeness in relationships. Because of this, understanding attachment styles will positively affect your ability to form a secure relationship.
Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:
Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a licensed counselor in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Vermont and Florida. She also works with international couples and expats. With her support, you can learn how to reduce stress and conflict in your relationship through an intensive marriage retreat or couples counseling. Reach out to Lisa for a 30-minute free private consultation today.