Recognizing your attachment pattern can help you to understand your strengths and vulnerabilities in relationship and work towards a healthy secure attachment relationship.
Our attachment patterns are established in early childhood and affect who we choose to be in relationship with and how we go about getting our needs met in that relationship. Often this is all on a subconscious level, making our attachment style all the more tricky to recognize and overcome. The aim is to gain awareness over your patterns and work towards a secure attachment style, where both partners are confident in themselves and in the relationship.
The Attachment Styles
If you had a childhood where your parents provided a safe space for you and were positive role models, you were free to explore your own experience without projections of fear or experiences of trauma, then you are likely to attract a secure relationship. A secure partnership will create space to feel safe and connected, while allowing one another freedom to experience their life. A secure attachment is built on honesty, healthy independence, and mutual support, but not trying to rescue or fix one another.
This attachment style is often a result of inconsistent parenting or parents that were unable to fully attune to your needs. People with an anxious attachment tend to look to their partner to rescue them or complete them because their needs were not always met as a child. Although they are seeking a sense of safety and security by clinging to their partner, they act in ways that push their partner away, especially if their partner has an avoidant attachment style. Hello triggers!
Often anxious attached individuals are insecure and need more validation than others to feel safe and loved. Without validation, they can easily become clingy, demanding, and possessive. If their partner choses to see a friend or choose a night alone for example, this can create fear in the anxious attached partner because they see the time apart as a threat to their love and safety.
A childhood with emotionally unavailable caregivers, or being raised overly independent, left to cry, rejected when sad, hurt, or sick, will often result in an avoidant attachment style. People with an avoidant attachment often tend to distance themselves both emotionally and physically from their partner. Those with an avoidant attachment tend to live a more inward and independent life because they were forced to meet their own needs in childhood. Conflict in the relationship or an anxious attached partner can cause an avoidant partner to shut down emotionally, which can further trigger the wounds of a non-secure partner.
Fearful Attachment (Also known as Disorganized Attachment)
Those with a traumatic upbringing are likely to bring the fear they experienced in their childhood into their romantic partnerships. The person they sought comfort from, was also the one that caused them pain, evoking confusion, fear, and trauma. A person with this style of attachment is afraid of being both too close to or too distant from others. They struggle to keep their emotions under control and can become easily overwhelmed. They know that they need to let others in to have their needs met, but are also afraid of getting hurt. They have fears of being abandoned but also struggle to fully let their partner in, which can lead to rocky and dramatic relationships, with many highs and lows.
Taking Your Power Back
So, which one resonates most deeply for you? There may be parts to each of the attachment styles that feel true to you, however there should be one that you can identify with more.
Now that you know your attachment style, you have awareness, and awareness is power! Next time you notice that you are closing off or pushing away (avoidant attachment), or a clinging energy (anxious attachment), or you're feeling overwhelmed and afraid to get hurt (fearful attachment), take a breath. Pause and reflect. Why are you reacting this way? Is this how you want to continue in your relationships moving forward? Can you react differently in this moment and move towards a secure attachment relationship? Your feelings are valid and they need to be acknowledged. So rather than hiding that you're feeling anxious, fearful, or closed off, can you own and disclose your feelings while not be attached to them? For example, you might let your partner know, "I notice I'm feeling anxious that you've been working all day and I'm feeling clingy and insecure, but I also respect that you are passionate about your work. I value working towards a secure attachment with you, and I just want you to know what's coming up for me so we can acknowledge it and move forward." The practice of owning your feelings and emotions validates your experience, keeps you from projecting those feelings onto your partner, and creates vulnerability. Vulnerable communication is a gateway to intimacy and one of the best steps you can take towards a secure attachment style in relationship. Wishing you well on your journey. In love, Derek