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How Attachment Style Affects Relationships

Some of us will be fortunate enough to have a secure attachment style which will lead to positive relationships with others. While others might develop anxious or avoidant attachment styles, leading to problems in the way that they relate to their partners or spouses and in how they experience the world.  

But that’s not all.

The impact on a person’s perspective (whether it’s secure or insecure) will compound as you walk through life continually proving to yourself that the world is either secure or insecure (depending on your attachment style).  

Those who think the world is secure thrive in all ways.

Those that have an insecure attachment style become insecure, untrusting, pessimistic and find it hard to believe that they can achieve their goals because frankly that’s never happened to them before.  

This cycle of compounding experiences continues until the person with the insecure attachment realizes and consciously makes an effort to override their early childhood programming.

A lot of people experience conflict, loneliness, and challenges in the way that they relate to others and experience life. And since every one of us thrives on the connection that’s a sad state of affairs.  

However, there is hope.

Understanding our attachment styles in relationships can help us to understand our strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities in our relationships.

This allows us the opportunity to understand ourselves or our spouse and find the means to heal or work with an insecure attachment so that even if you did grow up feeling insecure in the world, you may reconcile and heal this situation and find a way to override your insecure programming and even develop a secure attachment.  

How do attachment styles influence your relationship

Our attachment styles in relationships influence everything, no matter whether it’s the type of partner selected, how we interact with our partners or spouse’s, how we perceive our relationship to how we handle conflict.

Our attachment style in relationships can even influence the longevity of the relationship too.

It’s a big deal.

Learning what type of attachment style you and your spouse are, allows you to understand your strengths and weaknesses (individually and as a couple) and then seek to reconcile or heal the past if you have an anxious or avoidant attachment which will improve the chances of enjoying the ultimate goal of having a happy, healthy marriage.  

Our attachment style forms in early childhood and reflects how successful our primary caregiver has been at helping us to feel safe and secure in the world.  

Failure to form a secure attachment to one primary career during early childhood will lead to us feeling unsafe and then developing strategies in the form of our attachment styles to ensure our safety.  

It’s a survival tactic that serves us well in our infancy.  

Unfortunately, though, these strategies involve being too aloof and avoidant in the way we relate and experience the world as adults or being too needy and anxious about being rejected – both of which would be an unsafe experience.  

As we grow we see our attachment styles in relationships very clearly and any form of insecure attachment doesn’t equate to a healthy and happy relationship experience.   But the stage has been set, and if we want to correct this pattern and enjoy a healthy relationship then we need to develop an awareness of what attachment style we are so that we can work through the problems we create and experience.  

If we don’t, we will always find relationships a little bit challenging if we have an insecure attachment style.   

We’ve listed below the different attachment styles and also some of the behavioral patterns they cause in relationships so that you can start to figure out what attachment style in relationships you have.

The different attachment styles

There are three types of attachment styles in relationships;

  1. A secure attachment style
  2. An avoidant attachment style
  3. An ambivalent/anxious attachment style

The secure attachment style in relationships

An individual with a secure attachment style will be calm, confident and composed throughout life, they are also resilient in troubled times. People with a secure attachment style are well-rounded and while they may not know all of the answers to life’s problems they are confident that they can find the resources and means to solve their problems.  

They anticipate and breed positivity in relationships, find it easy to relate to others and never find it difficult to meet their own and their spouse’s needs.

The avoidant attachment style in relationships

There are two types of avoidant attachment styles in relationships;

  1. Dismissive-avoidant
  2. Dismissive fearful

If you or your spouse has a dismissive-avoidant attachment in relationships, you will distance yourself from your partner.  

You might be there, but you might not be wholly invested.

Instead, you might hold back a part of yourself ‘just in case’.  You might find that you need excessive amounts of time alone and that you don’t find it easy to rely on others, you may also be able to shut off your emotions whenever you feel the need to which can be confusing for a partner or spouse. In some cases, you might appear to be too self-focused or too superficial because you seem to be too focused on the attainment of physical luxury.  

If your attachment style is fearful avoidant in relationships, you’ll find yourself stuck in a situation where you want to be close to people and are afraid of not being around others.

You are also fearful of being too close, which can be quite a problem!  

This situation can cause dramatic and rocky experiences in relationships along with loneliness and struggles in becoming intimate.  It’s a particularly tricky attachment style in a relationship because a fearful-avoidant attachment style in relationships can cause a person with this type of insecure attachment to feel rejected and trapped by their spouse at the same time.  

The anxious attachment style in relationships

Individuals who experience an anxious attachment style in relationships often form a fantasy about how they will bond with their partner or spouse and unfortunately they can feel desperate to develop such a bond.  

Their emotional hunger is profound, and they often mistake this hunger as a vital component in a relationship instead of recognizing that love and trust is the secret to a happy and stable relationship.  

An anxiously attached person will seek to be rescued or completed through their chosen partner when in fact they are seeking the need for safety and security.  

The anxious attachment style in a relationship can lead to the anxious person pushing away the person they desire.  The insecurely attached person unwittingly pushes away their partner because they are too needy, clingy or desperate.   And even though the person who has this attachment disorder might realize what they are doing they might find it difficult to understand why, and even more difficult to understand how to relate securely.  

It’s a classic example of a self-fulfilled prophecy.  

Turning an insecure attachment style into a secure attachment

There is always the possibility that an individual can correct the patterns they have within their psyche, but the individual needs to not only want to do so but also find the courage to walk on unsafe territory while they explore new grounds.  

Creative visualization and hypnosis would be a great way to start to regress and rebuild a secure bond with oneself.   

Developing an awareness of your attachment style and how it influences your life and relationships will also help. Especially, if you and also work on developing self-awareness and then creating habits that correct the patterns you identify.  

Insecure attachment styles in relationships can be challenging to deal with and heartbreaking for the person who so dearly wants to love and be loved, but unfortunately all of their life they have not been successful in attaining this experience due to their early development and experiences with a primary caregiver.  

One day perhaps we will all be aware of this problem, and since awareness is the first step toward healing, we might all have the opportunity to start to heal ourselves and find the safe and secure love and connection that we all deserve.