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Unlocking the Secrets of Attachment Styles: How They Shape Our Relationships

Young woman looking at wedding ring sadly

Are you wondering why you have a hard time trusting your partner? Or why you push away anyone who gets too close? The answers to these questions may lie in attachment theory.


What is Attachment Theory?

Attachment theory, first proposed by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950’s, describes the way in which individuals form emotional bonds with others and the impact those bonds have on behavior and interpersonal relationships. According to attachment theory, there are three main attachment styles: secure, anxious, and avoidant. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at each of these attachment styles and discover how they can influence our relationships.


1) Secure Attachment: The Key to Happy Relationships

Individuals with a secure attachment style tend to have positive views of themselves and others. They feel comfortable with intimacy and dependency and are able to form strong, healthy relationships because they trust that their needs will be met by their partners. They’re able to openly express their emotions and are comfortable with their partner’s independence as well as their own independence. In a nutshell, and according to Attachment theory, they have the key to happy relationships.


2) Anxious Attachment: When Fear of Rejection Rules the Relationship

Individuals with an anxious attachment style tend to have negative views of themselves and others. They have a strong fear of rejection or abandonment and often seek to control their partners in order to reduce their anxiety and feel more secure in the relationship. They may also struggle with trust and become clingy or overly dependent on their partners. Unfortunately, this behavior can lead to the partners feeling suffocated, which can lead to distancing and rejection, further reinforcing their anxious attachment style. If you’re worried about your attachment style, read more about how to manage and cope with relationship anxiety.


3) Avoidant Attachment: Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

Individuals with an avoidant attachment style tend to have a strong fear of intimacy and dependency. They avoid emotional closeness and often push away anyone who gets too close. They may also suppress their own emotional needs in order to avoid feeling vulnerable. People with avoidant attachment tend to have a hard time building or maintaining healthy relationships. However, it’s not impossible for them to develop healthier ways of relating to others.

In romantic relationships, attachment styles can play a significant role in determining the dynamic between partners. For example, a securely attached individual may be more likely to have a healthy and balanced relationship with their partner, while an anxiously attached individual may struggle with trust and may engage in controlling behaviors. On the other hand, an avoidant individual may struggle with intimacy and may have a hard time committing to a relationship.


How Do Attachment Styles Develop?

Attachment styles develop early in life during the caregiver and infant stages. According to the theory, the way in which the infant is cared for during the early years has a significant impact on the formation of their attachment style. Children who felt safe and secure with their caregiver tend to develop a “secure” attachment style because they could trust that their needs would be taken care of. Children who experienced rejection or indifference during their early years may develop an insecure or “avoidant” attachment, and children who had inconsistent care or attention tend to develop a more “anxious” attachment style. 

These attachment styles tend to stay the same into adulthood, but they are not considered to be set in stone. With support and awareness, people can change and learn to form different attachment styles in adulthood. 


The Power of Understanding Your Attachment Style

Self-awareness is key when it comes to understanding how our attachment styles influence our relationships. By knowing our own attachment style, we might be able to better understand our behaviors and motivations, and this understanding can aid in the development of healthier relationships. For example, an individual with an anxious attachment style may learn how to trust their partner and reduce their controlling behaviors through therapy. Similarly, an individual with an avoidant attachment style may also benefit from therapy focused on developing comfort with intimacy and dependency.


Final Thoughts

There are many different theories for why we feel or act in certain ways, and how and why our relationships develop the way they do. Attachment theory is just one of them. The goal of these theories in our day-to-day lives isn’t to make us feel like something is wrong with us but to help us improve how we react in certain situations and generally feel more content in life. Even if you have a more insecure or anxious attachment style currently, it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve a more secure attachment style with time and practice. Understanding one’s own attachment style and how it may impact relationships might be a powerful tool in the development of healthier and more satisfying relationships. 


How Focus Can Help

Talk to a licensed therapist at Focus Mental Wellness for expert advice on how to manage and develop a healthier attachment style. We offer phone, video, and text therapy options, and all of our therapists are licensed mental health professionals that are dedicated to helping you live your best life. Take our quick 2-minute survey and choose a therapist that fits your needs to start feeling better, faster. 

Get custom matched to a licensed therapist and start feeling better today.