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How Our Attachment Style Influences Our Relationships

Do you ever wonder why you keep forming relationships with emotionally unavailable partners? Or why when everything seems to be going right in your relationship, you decide that it is “too much” and leave?

Do you tend to feel abandoned and rejected by your friends or misunderstood by your co-workers? A lot of these behaviors or feelings can be understood by the type of attachment you formed with your primary caregivers – usually our parents.

It is through our primary caregivers that we learn (or not) how to connect with others, cope with our emotions, and to express ourselves. If our caregivers respond to us in a consist and nurturing way, we learn that we are safe and that our needs will be met.

If our caregivers make us feel afraid or are too distracted to pay attention to us – we learn to become overly concerned about our safety as well as with our needs.

The influence of attachment goes well beyond romantic relationships. It can impact how we form and maintain friendships and even how we interact with co-workers. Our early relationship with our parents or caregivers provides us with a blueprint for how we will build relationships in the future as adults.

Attachment styles fall into two categories: secure and insecure. The anxious, avoidant, and disorganized attachment fall under the insecure category. Read more about each attachment style:

  • Anxious: Adults with this attachment style desire emotional and physical intimacy but tend to lose their sense of self in the relationship. Anxious attachment is mainly due to inconsistent parenting. These adults tend to fear rejection and abandonment, suffer from low-esteem, and tend to be clingy in relationships.

  • Avoidant: This attachment style is a result of caregivers who were strict and emotionally distant with their children. Avoidant adults learn early on that their emotional needs are not important. Instead, they learned to be independent and not to rely on others for encouragement or emotional support.

  • Disorganized: Adults with this attachment style experience both anxiety and avoidance in relationships – mostly due to childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma. In childhood, they learned that their caregiver was both a safe haven and someone to fear. Adults with this attachment style can exhibit unpredictable behaviors and have a difficult time trusting people.

  • Secure: This attachment stye is a result of consistent and nurturing parenting. The caregiver met the needs of the child or at least responded in a way that showed they cared. Adults with this attachment style feel safe to explore new opportunities and feel comfortable giving and receiving love and attention.

If you fall into the insecure attachment category, don’t despair. The good news is that you can change how you relate to other people. By gaining an appreciation for your own attachment style and those of others, you can begin to make subtle shifts in your interactions with them.

Reach out today to work with a therapist and learn how you can start to build healthier relationships with others.

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