November 12, 2021

Q&A – What are the attachment styles?

Your Questions Answered

Today’s question is about the importance of attachment styles in a relationship.

What are the attachment styles?

What are the attachment styles?

Today’s question is about attachment styles and why they areessentialt in relationships. We develop attachment styles early in childhood. There are four primary attachment styles that determine our kind of connecting with others, depending upon our experience and personality.

From age zero to seven, we depend completely on our primary caregiver for survival. Intrinsically we know this on a deep level, even proverbially. We start to develop a response or a reaction to whatever is happening in our emotional environment, in order to get this need for attachment met. Depending upon the emotional and social maturity of the caregiver, we will begin to develop one of these four attachment styles. 

When trying to develop an intimate relationship as an adult, we’re only vulnerable to attachment and approval. As compared to the rest of our relationships, we may be quite different in this one. Unlike friendships, colleagues, and family, adult intimate relationships are about attachment and approval. In a sense, we tend to revisit unresolved issues of trust and attachment in this one domain. 

The four predominant styles of attachment are secure, avoidant, anxious, and disorganized. Conflict is an especially important area of our relationships, and our ability to have constructive conflict determines growth.

Having a secure attachment means you feel confident and secure in your relationship. As well as self-soothing, you’re emotionally aware and feel like you can also get comfort and assurance from your partner. In case of conflict, you’ll resolve it positively or constructively.

Relationships characterized by avoidant attachment avoid conflict entirely. The rose-colored glasses of an avoidant style attachment person does not allow curiosity about differences to lead to new insights. Suppression of authentic feelings, avoidance of relationships in general, or the growth within a relationship ultimately lead to secondary issues.

Anxious attachment is typically characterized by repetitive cycles of conflict that lack resolution. 

As the name suggests, emotions are funneled into an uneasy anxious climate in the relationship. The culture of the relationship overall is anxious, thereby actually creating cycles of repetitive, unresolved, disharmony. It’s very difficult to trust, not necessarily the individual, but the concept of relationships and in general.

Attachment-style relationships can be sabotaged when there are many highs and lows. The most volatile conflict style of the four attachment styles, disorganized attachment sometimes will seek connection and reassurance through “make-up” gestures following a huge argument. Without addressing any issues, the recovery from the volatility provides comfort, thereby negatively reinforcing this way of attaching. 

If you are wondering how counseling can help you, refer to our article on 4 Ways To Get The Most Benefit From Couples Therapy.

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