What You Can Learn About Your Partner by Just Learning their Attachment Styles
Attachment styles develop in childhood due to the interaction between the child and caregiver. That interaction will forever impact your life and your relationship. Your style of relating to your partner is shaped by that interaction, so learning about the styles of bonding and connecting will prepare you for a more secure relationship. What you can learn about your partner by just learning their attachment style is an important key into understanding your partner.
What Are The 4 Types Of Attachment Styles?
John Bowlby, founder of Attachment Theory, defined attachment as a “deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space.” How your caregivers responded to you when you were an infant molded how you connect with your partner.
The 4 types of Attachment styles are insecure-avoidant, insecure-anxious, insecure-disorganized and secure. These 4 attachment types often exhibit patterns of behavior, but should only be viewed as a guide. Please resist the temptation to label yourself or your partner.
- Insecure-avoidant attachment styles of child raising usually have parents who leave the child alone for long periods of time forcing them to self-soothe. As an adult, this partner may enjoy being alone, wants to be independent and have his/her own “space”.
- Insecure-anxious attachment styles usually involve having parents who are unreliable and not dependable. As adults, this partner may appear clingy and needy.
- Insecure-disorganized styles may result from having parents who created fear, abuse or trauma. Once s/he becomes an adult, this partner may fear closeness and distrust relationships, yet at the same time desire closeness.
- Securely attached children have parents who displayed consistent care and nurturing. Dr.Tatkin (2018) describes secure attachment as “the infant or child is confident that their primary caregiver(s) will appropriately respond to their needs and communicate in a timely fashion”.
6 Ways Your Partner’s Attachment Style Affects Your Relationship
Dr. Tatkin found that our expectations in relationships are based on our memories of connecting with our parents or primary caregivers. Therefore, your partner’s attachment to his/her primary caregiver impacts how your partner and you bond and connect in your relationship.
A partner who is securely attached usually:
- Feels more comfortable and safer to be physically and emotionally close,
- Believes in relationship values, such as open, equal and fair,
- Puts the relationship first,
- Believes that a 2 person system is much more effective than being pro-self,
- Does not become insecure when his/her partner cares for him/herself,
- Wants to have their partner as the Go-to person for sharing thoughts and feelings.
A partner who has an insecure-anxious attachment usually:
- Desires a lot of connection and time together,
- Showers their partner with love, with the expectation that it will be reciprocated,
- Intense craving to be around the partner and other people in order to recharge,
- Need reassurances of caring,
- Feels unloved and uncared for and constantly alert to signs of being abandoned,
- Speaks much faster than their partner, needs to be acknowledged as right, and responded to immediately.
A partner who has an insecurely-avoidant attachment usually:
- Desires a lot of space and time by themselves,
- Prefers to handle issues and problems on their own
- Appears to put less effort into the relationship,
- Less open about feelings and thoughts,
- Concerned they might be trapped in the relationship,
- Values independence.
A partner who has an insecurely-disorganized attachment usually:
- Craves closeness,
- Fears closeness,
- Misinterpret signs and gestures as rejection,
- Distrustful and suspicious of their partner
- Appear erratic-withdrawing and desiring connection
- End the relationship due to poor self-image or out of fear
It may be helpful to wonder about your or your partner’s attachment style. Bear in mind that you should never diagnose or label your partner or yourself. With some professional guidance, you can use the process of identifying attachment styles to learn how to create a secure relationship with your partner.
Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing: