Getting Connected with the 4 Types of Attachment Styles
No better time than the present to spruce up your love life, single life, and reflect upon yourself.
Dang! What does that even mean?!
Let’s throw it back to childhood, because what is adulthood without working through childhood conflicts? Probably chaos and a lot of repression…
The theory of attachment styles was studied in children and their caregivers by Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby in the 1960s and 1970s. In infants attachment behavior is identified as the child’s need for physical proximity to their caretakers. The caregiver’s response to the child affect the child’s development of attachment.
In the late ‘80s, Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver transitioned attachment studies into adult social connections. Hazan and Shaver found that adult relationships mirrored many core components of the caregiver and infant dynamic.
What do attachment styles affect?
Attachment styles target how people react within relationships during loss, separation, hurt or a perceived threat.
Understanding your attachment style or your partner’s can aid in your communication with one another, avoid misunderstandings and potentially prevent yourself from behaving too wildly when some of your own anxieties are triggered in a relationship.
Sounds like some good stuff, no? Let’s break it down.
Your heart’s mantra screams the following: In a general sense, it’s easy for me to become emotionally close to people. Isolation and rejection doesn’t necessarily shake the foundation of who I am. I don’t mind others depending on me, and am comfortable depending on others when I need to.
Individuals with a Secure Attachment style tend to possess positive views of their attachments and themselves, have a history of positive and warm interactions with those in their past and upbringing. Intimacy and independence are like old friends and come with ease.
These types were likely to possess a caregiver that was emotionally available, caring, and responsive to the child’s attachment behavior. These parental figures were not necessarily “perfect,” but they essentially met the child’s need most of the time. The caregiver likely, appropriately responded to the child’s emotions, both the positive and negative.
ANXIOUS-PREOCCUPIED AVOIDANT (APA)
This attachment style is characterized by the individual being consumed by their relationship. They tend to overanalyze social interactions, are hyper-sensitive and atune. Anxious-avoidants crave close emotional intimacy yet, tend to find most people are hesitant to get as close as they desire. They are uncomfortable if they aren’t in close relationships, and tend to fear others don’t place the same value on them.
High levels of intimacy, responsiveness, and approval are really important to APA types. The coupling of these desires results in dependency on the attachment figure person they’re attached to. When their loved one, anxiety overtakes them, but as soon as their partner is back, it subsides.
This attachment style is sometimes described as ambivalent. They often possess parental figures that were undependable. They would come and go – being inconsistent on tending to the child’s needs. The inconsistency creates self-blame as they try to gauge how to act to predict the caregiver’s response. The child experiences an emotional seesaw of needs inconsistently being met. This can create the need to subconsciously challenge there childhood by being drawn to the most emotionally distant attachment style in the bunch.
Dismissive-Avoidant individuals possess a tendency to emotionally distance themselves from their partners. They ignore feelings and aren’t concerned with human connectedness. Independence, self-sufficiency and emotional invulnerability is key for Dismissive Avoidants. They don’t value close relationships and may even deny the need for them. They seek less intimacy with figures and view them with less regard than themselves. Suppression of feeling and defensiveness are characteristic.
Caregivers were often emotionally unavailable and may have even been hostile and indefinitely insensitive with the child. Children then cope by forming strategies to disconnect. The Dismissive’s greatest challenge is experiencing a lack of emotion. Think lone wolf or even Wolverine. This type has learned to function in life independently and relying on others creates feelings of anxiousness. To them, it just doesn’t make sense. Although they will probably rarely ever admit aloud their anxiety, they still desire some intimacy. They are human, after all.
Some common themes that resonate strongly with Fearful-avoidants include: trouble trusting others, fear of abandonment or rejection, reluctance in approaching relationships, partner dependent, and conflict avoidant.
People with fearful avoidant attachment instinctually feel the need to protect oneself by avoiding relationships, yet still experience the human desire to be in a relationship (confusing to say the least). A fearful-avoidant attachment style (FAAS) feel increasing discomfort the more serious or close a relationship becomes. As the emotional intimacy of a relationship increases so does the anxiety and fear of becoming too attached – risking the chance of being hurt.
Individuals with this attachment style are seen as having a negative view of other people and themselves or a pessimistic one at the very least. For instance, there’s just too much risk in TRUSTING that another person could love them for fear of rejection, betrayal, or abandonment. Isolation or surface level relationships is how they’ve managed to stay safe in life and to protect themselves.
Another common characteristic of FAAS are that we (yeah ya got me, surprise!) tend to be super self-effacing to the point of self-deprecating. And of course the scale for this will range for every FAAS. This type of individual may find themselves to be a people pleaser. Individuals that have experienced significant deaths, sexual abuse or other traumas in childhood/adolescence possess a high tendency to develop this attachment type.
Why attachment styles matter and how they’re applicable:
Attachment affects how individuals interact with one another. For example, securely attached people tend to grieve by seeking support, the healthiest coping strategy. While, Avoidant individuals tend to devalue the significance of the relationship and withdraw. Securely attached individuals tend to feel less negative overall than insecurely attached individuals.
The goal here is to equip y’all with another weapon in your emotional tool kit to better understand yourselves, friendship dynamics, your partner or prospective partner. And maybe even challenge yourselves to be more empathetic or understanding of others
DO NOT feel like a weirdo if you experience one of these to a T. You aren’t the only one out there. They say that about 50% of the population encompasses a healthy secure attachment style while the other 50% of us are running around a bit more anxious or detached AF. It’s crazy that it comes down to a coin toss of what ya might get in regards to attachment styles in the dating world, but hey, the odds that we’re all a little odd is pretty up there. So don’t sweat it too much!