How to understand your attachment style

attachment style
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

The #1 reason we struggle in relationships is often due to our attachment style. This is the way we connect and communicate with our friends, family, and romantic partners.

The three main types of attachment styles are secure, avoidant, and anxious. These develop in childhood depending on whether our emotional and physical needs were met.

People with secure attachment grew up with the knowledge that they could give and receive love. They feel worthy of love and view love as a natural thing. As a result, they seek intimacy in their relationships.

They might need time alone to recharge but do not tend to isolate. They are comfortable in relationships and believe those relationships are beneficial to them.

Securely attached people have good conflict resolution skills. These skills were taught in the home where people dealt with conflict in a healthy way.

If you grew up in a home where needs were not met, however, you would likely acquire an anxious or avoidant attachment style. In more rare cases (about 5%), you would develop a disorganized style.

A disorganized style comes out of a childhood in which fear and even terror was the backdrop. Addicted parents, severe abuse, and neglect might produce a disorganized style.

Signs of insecure attachment

attachment style

The avoidant doesn’t like asking for help. She feels she doesn’t need relationships and is fine on her own, thank you very much.

She might have learned that emotions don’t bring people closer. They push people away. So she’s uncomfortable being vulnerable or sharing her emotions.

People with avoidant style might run hot and cold in dating relationships. That means they pursue you until things start to get close, then pull away.

With anxious attachment style, however, the person comes across as “needy”. They feel they need people very much and put others ahead of themselves. And they may over-esteem others and think little of themselves.

They spend a lot of time preoccupied with their relationships and getting their needs met. This has the opposite effect of pushing people away, which is extremely painful.

The disorganized attachment is more severe and can wreak havoc in a person’s life. It can lead to problems with the legal system and addictions. This style displays aspects of both anxious and avoidant attachment.

Mistakes people make with attachment style

One mistake people make is assuming they have a disorganized style if they exhibit traits of both the avoidant and anxious. But displaying anxious traits when your primary style is avoidant does not necessarily indicate a disorganized style.

Another mistake is thinking you need to change your style to have successful relationships. In reality, it’s quite difficult to change your style. But you can use the self-knowledge to navigate your relationships.

For example, an anxiously attached person can ask their partner to check in with them more often. An avoidant partner can explain why they need more time alone.

Knowing your attachment style can help you understand why your relationships haven’t been working. Relationships then become a place where we resolve past trauma and learn the life lessons that help us grow.

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