Why Attachment Styles Play A Key Part In Romantic Relationships
Attachment styles describe a person’s traits of behaviour in relationships and are created through a combination of upbringing, genetics, and life events. They show how close a person will want to be with those around them, and how distressed or calm they will be in response to another person’s behaviours. They are especially useful because they tend to stay stable over the course of a person’s life and therefore you can use them to evaluate potential partners and how they will treat you. They are one of the best predictors of your future relationship quality, and can accurately predict your future relationship happiness. If you are in a relationship already you can use them to evaluate your partner’s behaviour alongside your own in order to make improvements.
The three types of attachment style are: secure, anxious, and avoidant.
The ideal attachment style to have both for yourself and your partner is a secure one. Although attachment styles mostly tend to stay stable over time, they can be changed by the partner you choose, the choices you make, and the coping strategies you utilise. So if you have an avoidant or anxious style there are ways to become more secure and in doing so having a healthier stronger relationship with yourself, your partner, and all others in your life.
Your own main attachment style can be worked out by the number of traits in each style that match up to your behaviour. Everyone has some traits of each style, but as a rule your main attachment style will be the one you have the most traits of. Now let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of each style and how to best manage them.
· Cling / withdrawn pattern.
· Can get distressed when a partner is away.
· Worry about losing their partner.
· Can find communicating their needs difficult.
· Can find it hard to trust.
· Often pair up with partners who have avoidant attachment leading to a clash of being unable to get their needs met.
· When single: They worry about ever finding a partner.
Anxiously attached partners tend to be fearful about loss and their patterns of behaviour are organised to try and prevent this. They will at times cling to their partner and when they worry they are being too needy and how their partner sees this then they will withdraw. They find it hard to maintain a balance between getting their needs met and also having independence. They are often people-pleasers who will try to be overly attentive to their partner’s needs at the expense of their own.
Anxiously attached people can become more secure by:
1. Choosing a secure partner who helps to soothe their anxiety and provides them with a safe base of support.
2. Using a secure person that they know as a role model and imagining how they would act in a situation, then taking that secure action instead of a one driven by anxiety.
3. Learning and utilising coping strategies for their anxiety.
· Avoid intimacy.
· Withdraw when their partner gets too close.
· Not responsive to the needs of their partner.
· Can use distancing strategies such as staying out late, thinking badly about their partner, or insulting their partner in order to create space.
· When single: They pair up with anxiously attached partners.
Avoidantly attached people shun intimacy using a range of deactivating strategies including physical and mental distancing, such as criticising their partner, and/or thinking badly of them. They are similar in some ways to anxiously attached people as they are fearful of intimacy and become overwhelmed by it.
Avoidantly attached people tend to end up with anxiously attached people which creates a difficult dynamic of the anxiously attached partner being unable to get their needs met and trying to cling while the avoidantly attached partner withdraws.
Avoidantly attached people can become more secure by:
1. Choosing a secure partner who is able to not take their behaviour personally and to instead form solutions that work for both of them which in time helps the avoidant partner become more secure.
2. Work on communicating their need for space in a way that is compassionate to their partner.
3. Work on meeting the needs of their partner.
· Are responsive to their partner’s needs.
· Effective communicators who aren’t afraid to bring up difficult topics.
· Know they deserve love and to have their needs met.
· Don’t tolerate poor behaviour from others.
· Have a stable mood.
· Have good self-esteem.
· When single: They choose a partner who can meet their needs.
The securely attached make up 50% of the population and don’t last long on the dating market. They make for the best partners and have the most stable and long-lasting relationships. They tend not to take things personally and instead focus on solutions within their relationships. They have good self-esteem and expect their needs to be met. Of course they will at times be faced with problems within their relationships as we all do, but their stability allows them to navigate those situations well.
As being securely attached is an ideal attachment style to have, when you are securely attached your focus should be on maintaining it. Unfortunately attachment styles can change over time and a bad relationship can be enough to change a securely attached person into an anxiously attached one. The ideal way to prevent this is for securely attached people to partner with other securely attached people.
Use your knowledge as your ultimate prediction and protection tool
If you only remember one piece of knowledge from this article then remember the characteristics of the secure attachment. You can use the traits of the secure attachment style as a reference point to evaluate the behaviour of the people you choose to be in your life, as well as to your own behaviour and how you want to behave.
Most of us want a reliable way to prevent the pain of people who come into our lives, hurt us, and then leave. Filtering people based on their attachment style when you first meet them is one of the very best ways of maximising your future happiness. Secure people will be there to support you when the inevitable hard times that anyone has during their lifetime happen. They are the ones who will show up and be a consistent source of goodness and love within your life. Filter for the secure people and let the rest go.
For more articles and resources about creating and managing healthy relationships you can visit my website at www.simonsamuels.com