Our lives are marked not just by events, but by the people we fill them up with, and by the types of bonds that we choose to make with them. In a world that so intricately connects people with one another, the concept of attachment is one that should not go without consideration. From the time we are born, we form attachments – first with our mothers, and soon branching out to include other family members, friends and lovers.
In fact, a lot can be said about one’s romantic attachment style from the nature of attachment that a person has with their primary caregiver during childhood. Studies have found that one’s attachment style with their parents or caregivers at a young age defines their characteristic ways of relating to intimate relationships. Even the manner in which one connects with close friends is affected by their history of attachment behavior.
However, these different attachment styles are not completely and totally defined by one’s bond with their mothers or primary caregivers as toddlers, but also by individual differences and negative life events.
Ranging from secure to insecure, with different types of insecure attachment styles; it is first essential to identify one’s own attachment style, in order to be equipped to improve the quality of our relationships if required.
These attachment styles are characterized by the following traits in adult intimate relationships (primarily with romantic partners, but also with others to some extent):
1) Secure attachment: ability to create meaningful relationships, set boundaries without a resultant fear of rejection, feeling of security and comfort in relationship, sense of independence, openness, equality in the relationship
2) Anxious Preoccupied Attachment: wish to create a ‘fantasy bond’ with their partner, looking for their partner to complete or rescue them, clingy nature, demanding and possessive, easily jealous or threatened, don’t feel safe in their relationship
3) Dismissive Avoidant Attachment: tend to emotionally distance themselves from partner, seek isolation, seem focused on themselves, lead more inward lives, have the ability to shut down emotionally
4) Fearful Avoidant Attachment: Ambivalent fear of being too close and too distant, easily overwhelmed by emotional situations, unpredictable in their moods, fear of being abandoned but also struggle with intimacy
It is important to keep in mind that if you have realized that you have an insecure attachment style, that it is not something that you’re ‘stuck’ with. You can challenge any insecure attachment style and make efforts to bring about an ‘earned secure attachment’, which can result from being with a partner with a secure attachment style and by working on yourself and your relationship. Measures like therapy, couples counselling or even individual awareness and effort can help one mold their attachment style into a secure one, to bring about a loving, supportive relationship.