Ambivalent attachment pattern
How Attachment Styles Affect Adult Relationships
love & friendship
Struggling with relationship problems? The cause may be the attachment style you developed with your primary caregiver as an infant. Here’s how to recognize insecure attachment and build stronger, healthier connections.
What is attachment?
Attachment, or the attachment bond, is the emotional connection you formed as an infant with your primary caregiver—probably your mother. According to attachment theory, pioneered by British psychiatrist John Bowlby and American psychologist Mary Ainsworth, the quality of the bonding you experienced during this first relationship often determines how well you relate to other people and respond to intimacy throughout life.
If your primary caretaker made you feel safe and understood as an infant, if they were able to respond to your cries and accurately interpret your changing physical and emotional needs, then you likely developed a successful, secure attachment. As an adult, that usually translates to being self-confident, trusting, and hopeful, with an ability to healthily manage conflict, respond to intimacy, and navigate the ups and downs of romantic relationships.
If you experienced confusing, frightening, or inconsistent emotional communication during infancy, though, if your caregiver was unable to consistently comfort you or respond to your needs, you’re more likely to have experienced an unsuccessful or insecure attachment. Infants with insecure attachment often grow into adults who have difficulty understanding their own emotions and the feelings of others, limiting their ability to build or maintain stable relationships. They may find it difficult to connect to others, shy away from intimacy, or be too clingy, fearful, or anxious in a relationship.
Of course, experiences that occur between infancy and adulthood can also impact and shape our relationships. However, the infant brain is so profoundly influenced by the attachment bond, understanding your attachment style can offer vital clues as to why you may be having problems in your adult relationships. Perhaps you behave in puzzling or self-destructive ways when you’re in a close relationship? Maybe you repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over? Or maybe you struggle to form meaningful connections in the first place?
[Read: What is Secure Attachment and Bonding?]
Whatever your specific relationship problems, it’s important to know that your brain remains capable of change throughout life. By identifying your attachment style, you can learn to challenge your insecurities, develop a more securely attached way of relating to others, and build stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling relationships.
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Attachment styles and how they shape adult relationships
Attachment styles or types are characterized by the behavior exhibited within a relationship, especially when that relationship is threatened. For example, someone with a secure attachment style may be able to share their feelings openly and seek support when faced with relationship problems. Those with insecure attachment styles, on the other hand, may tend to become needy or clingy in their closest relationships, behave in selfish or manipulative ways when feeling vulnerable, or simply shy away from intimacy altogether.
Understanding how your attachment style shapes and influences your intimate relationships can help you make sense of your own behavior, how you perceive your partner, and how you respond to intimacy. Identifying these patterns can then help you clarify what you need in a relationship and the best way to overcome problems.
While attachment styles are largely shaped by the infant-primary caregiver connection, especially during the first year, it’s important to note that the strength of attachment is not based solely on the level of parental love or the quality of care an infant receives. Rather, attachment is founded on the nonverbal emotional communication developed between caregiver and infant.
[Read: Nonverbal Communication and Body Language]
An infant communicates their feelings by sending nonverbal signals such as crying, cooing, or later pointing and smiling. In return, the caregiver reads and interprets these cues, responding to satisfy the child’s need for food, comfort, or affection. When this nonverbal communication is successful, a secure attachment develops.
The success of attachment isn’t impacted by socio-economic factors such as wealth, education, ethnicity, or culture. Neither is having an insecure attachment style as an adult reason to blame all your relationship problems onto your parent. Your personality and intervening experiences during childhood, adolescence, and adult life can also play a role in shaping your attachment style.
Types of attachment
Beyond categorizing attachment as secure or insecure, there are subsets of insecure attachment which give us four main attachment styles:
- Secure attachment
- Ambivalent (or anxious-preoccupied) attachment
- Avoidant-dismissive attachment
- Disorganized attachment
Secure attachment style: what it looks like
Empathetic and able to set appropriate boundaries, people with secure attachment tend to feel safe, stable, and more satisfied in their close relationships. While they don’t fear being on their own, they usually thrive in close, meaningful relationships.
How secure attachment style affects adult relationships
Having a secure attachment style doesn’t mean you’re perfect or you don’t experience relationship problems. But you likely feel secure enough to take responsibility for your own mistakes and failings, and are willing to seek help and support when you need it.
- You appreciate your own self-worth and you’re able to be yourself in an intimate relationship. You’re comfortable expressing your feelings, hopes, and needs.
- You find satisfaction in being with others, openly seek support and comfort from your partner, but don’t get overly anxious when the two of you are apart.
- You’re similarly happy for your partner to rely on you for support.
- You’re able to maintain your emotional balance and seek healthy ways to manage conflict in a close relationship.
- When faced with disappointment, setbacks, and misfortune in your relationships as well as other parts of your life, you’re resilient enough to bounce back.
Primary caregiver relationship
As someone with a secure attachment style, it’s likely your primary caretaker was able to stay engaged with you as an infant and effectively manage their own stress as well as calm and soothe you when you were distressed. They made you feel safe and secure, communicated through emotion, and responded to your changing needs on a regular basis, enabling your nervous system to become “securely attached.”
Of course, no parent or caregiver is perfect and no one can be fully present and attentive to an infant 24 hours a day. In fact, that’s not necessary to establish secure attachment in a child. But when your caregiver missed your nonverbal cues, it’s likely they continued trying to figure out what you needed, keeping the secure attachment process on track.
The strong foundation of a secure attachment bond enabled you as a child to be self-confident, trusting, hopeful, and comfortable in the face of conflict.
Secure or insecure?
Some people may identify with some but not all of the characteristics of secure attachment. Even if your relationships tend to be stable, it’s possible that you have specific patterns of behavior or thinking that cause conflict with your partner and need to be actively addressed. Start by seeing if you relate to any aspects of the following three insecure attachment styles.
Ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied attachment style
People with an ambivalent attachment style (also referred to as “anxious-preoccupied,” “ambivalent-anxious,” or simply “anxious attachment”) tend to be overly needy. As the labels suggest, people with this attachment style are often anxious and uncertain, lacking in self-esteem. They crave emotional intimacy but worry that others don’t want to be with them.
How ambivalent attachment style affects adult relationships
If you have an ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied attachment style, you may be embarrassed about being too clingy or your constant need for love and attention. Or you may feel worn down by fear and anxiety about whether your partner really loves you.
- You want to be in a relationship and crave feelings of closeness and intimacy with a significant other, but you struggle to feel that you can trust or fully rely on your partner.
- Being in an intimate relationship tends to take over your life and you become overly fixated on the other person.
- You may find it difficult to observe boundaries, viewing space between you as a threat, something that can provoke panic, anger, or fear that your partner no longer wants you.
- A lot of your sense of self-worth rests on how you feel you’re being treated in the relationship and you tend to overreact to any perceived threats to the relationship.
- You feel anxious or jealous when away from your partner and may use guilt, controlling behavior, or other manipulative tactics to keep them close.
- You need constant reassurance and lots of attention from your partner.
- Others may criticize you for being too needy or clingy and you may struggle to maintain close relationships.
Primary caregiver relationship
It’s likely your parent or primary caregiver was inconsistent in their parenting style, sometimes engaged and responsive to your needs as an infant, other times unavailable or distracted. This inconsistency may have left you feeling anxious and uncertain about whether your needs in this “first” relationship would be met, and thus provide a model for your behavior in later relationships.
Avoidant-dismissive attachment style
Adults with an avoidant-dismissive insecure attachment style are the opposite of those who are ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied. Instead of craving intimacy, they’re so wary of closeness they try to avoid emotional connection with others. They’d rather not rely on others, or have others rely on them.
How avoidant attachment style affects adult relationships
As someone with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style, you tend to find it difficult to tolerate emotional intimacy. You value your independence and freedom to the point where you can feel uncomfortable with, even stifled by, intimacy and closeness in a romantic relationship.
- You’re an independent person, content to care for yourself and don’t feel you need others.
- The more someone tries to get close to you or the needier a partner becomes, the more you tend to withdraw.
- You’re uncomfortable with your emotions and partners often accuse you of being distant and closed off, rigid and intolerant. In return, you accuse them of being too needy.
- You’re prone to minimize or disregard your partner’s feelings, keep secrets from them, engage in affairs, and even end relationships in order to regain your sense of freedom.
- You may prefer fleeting, casual relationships to long-term intimate ones, or you seek out partners who are equally independent, ones who’ll keep their distance emotionally.
- While you may think you don’t need close relationships or intimacy, the truth is we all do. Humans are hardwired for connection and deep down, even someone with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style wants a close meaningful relationship—if only they could overcome their deep-seated fears of intimacy.
Primary caregiver relationship
An avoidant-dismissive attachment style often stems from a parent who was unavailable or rejecting during your infancy. Since your needs were never regularly or predictably met by your caregiver, you were forced to distance yourself emotionally and try to self-soothe. This built a foundation of avoiding intimacy and craving independence in later life—even when that independence and lack of intimacy causes its own distress.
Disorganized/disoriented attachment style
Disorganized/disoriented attachment, also referred to as fearful-avoidant attachment, stems from intense fear, often as a result of childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. Adults with this style of insecure attachment tend to feel they don’t deserve love or closeness in a relationship.
How disorganized attachment style affects adult relationships
If you have a disorganized attachment style, you’ve likely never learned to self-soothe your emotions, so both relationships and the world around you can feel frightening and unsafe. If you experienced abuse as a child, you may try to replicate the same abusive patterns of behavior as an adult.
- You probably find intimate relationships confusing and unsettling, often swinging between emotional extremes of love and hate for a partner.
- You may be insensitive towards your partner, selfish, controlling, and untrusting, which can lead to explosive or even abusive behavior. And you can be just as hard on yourself as you are on others.
- You may exhibit antisocial or negative behavior patterns, abuse alcohol or drugs, or prone to aggression or violence.
- Others may despair at your refusal to take responsibility for your actions.
- While you crave the security and safety of a meaningful, intimate relationship, you also feel unworthy of love and terrified of getting hurt again.
- Your childhood may have been shaped by abuse, neglect, or trauma.
Primary caregiver relationship
If your primary caregiver was dealing with unresolved trauma themselves, it can lead to the intense fear associated with a disorganized/disoriented attachment style. Often the parent acted as both a source of fear and comfort for you as an infant, triggering the confusion and disorientation you feel about relationships now. In other cases, your parental figure may have ignored or overlooked your needs as an infant, or their erratic, chaotic behavior could have been frightening or traumatizing to you.
Causes of insecure attachment
There are many reasons why even a loving, conscientious parent may not be successful at creating a secure attachment bond with an infant. The causes of your insecure attachment could include:
Having a young or inexperienced mother, lacking in the necessary parenting skills.
Your caregiver experienced depression caused by isolation, lack of social support, or hormonal problems, for example, forcing them to withdraw from the caregiving role.
Your primary caregiver’s addiction to alcohol or other drugs reduced their ability to accurately interpret or respond to your physical or emotional needs.
Traumatic experiences, such as a serious illness or accident which interrupted the attachment process.
Physical neglect, such as poor nutrition, insufficient exercise, or neglect of medical issues.
Emotional neglect or abuse. For example, your caregiver paid little attention to you as a child, made scant effort to understand your feelings, or engaged in verbal abuse.
Physical or sexual abuse, whether physical injury or violation.
Separation from your primary caregiver due to illness, death, divorce, or adoption.
Inconsistency in the primary caregiver. You experienced a succession of nannies or staff at daycare centers, for example.
Frequent moves or placements. For example, you constantly changed environment due to spending your early years in orphanages or moving between foster homes.
Getting help for insecure attachment
If you recognize an insecure attachment style in either yourself or your romantic partner, it’s important to know that you don’t have to resign yourselves to enduring the same attitudes, expectations, or patterns of behavior throughout life. It is possible to change and you can develop a more secure attachment style as an adult.
Therapy can be invaluable, whether it’s working one-on-one with a therapist or with your current partner in couples counselling. A therapist experienced in attachment theory can help you make sense of your past emotional experience and become more secure, either on your own or as a couple.
[Read: Finding a Therapist to Help You Heal]
If you don’t have access to appropriate therapy, there are still plenty of things you can do on your own to build a more secure attachment style. To start, learn all you can about your insecure attachment style. The more you understand, the better you’ll be able to recognize—and correct—the reflexive attitudes and behaviors of insecure attachment that may be contributing to your relationship problems.
The following tips can also help you transition to a more secure attachment style:
1. Improve your nonverbal communication skills
One of the most important lessons gleaned from attachment theory is that adult relationships, just like the first relationship you have with your primary caregiver, depend for their success on nonverbal forms of communication.
Even though you may not be aware of it, when you interact with others, you continuously give and receive wordless signals via the gestures you make, your posture, how much eye contact you make and the like. These nonverbal cues send strong messages about what you really feel.
At any age, developing how well you read, interpret, and communicate nonverbally can help improve and deepen your relationships with other people. You can learn to improve these skills by being present in the moment, learning to manage stress, and developing your emotional awareness.
[Read: Nonverbal Communication and Body Language]
2. Boost your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to empathize with your partner, communicate more effectively, and deal with conflict in a healthier way.
As well as helping to improve how well you read and use nonverbal communication, building emotional intelligence can help strengthen a romantic relationship. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’ll be better able to express your needs and feelings to your partner, as well as understand how your partner is really feeling, too.
[Read: Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ)]
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3. Develop relationships with people who are securely attached
Being in a relationship with another person who also has an insecure attachment style can make for a union that’s out of sync at best, rocky, confusing, or even painful at worst. While you can work through your insecurities together as a couple, if you’re single it can help to look for a partner with a secure attachment style to help shift you away from the negative patterns of thinking and behaving.
A strong, supportive relationship with someone who makes you feel loved can play an important part in building your sense of security. Estimates vary, but research suggests that 50 to 60 percent of people have a secure attachment style, so there’s a good chance of finding a romantic partner who can help you overcome your insecurities. Similarly, developing strong friendships with these individuals can also help you recognize and adopt new patterns of behavior.
[Read: Dating Tips for Finding the Right Person]
4. Resolve any childhood trauma
As discussed above, experiencing trauma as an infant or young child can interrupt the attachment and bonding process. Childhood trauma can result from anything that impacts your sense of safety, such as an unsafe or unstable home environment, separation from your primary caregiver, serious illness, neglect, or abuse. When childhood trauma is not resolved, feelings of insecurity, fear, and helplessness can continue into adulthood.
Even if your trauma happened many years ago, there are steps you can take to overcome the pain, regain your emotional balance, and learn to trust and connect in relationships again.
[Read: Emotional and Psychological Trauma]
Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Jaelline Jaffe, Ph.D.
Last updated: November 15, 2022
Relationships: The Ambivalent Attachment Style
In a previous post, we discussed the traits of individuals with The Secure Attachment Style. Now, let’s discuss The Ambivalent Attachment Style.
An ambivalent attachment style comes from a childhood in which love and affection are inconsistently given, based on factors the child does not understand. Love and affection, though desperately wanted by the child, are seen as incredibly fragile things that can vanish without warning. Because the child is never sure of receiving love and affection, they have an overriding necessity to secure the insecure.
A child who is unsure of love and lives with the constant fear of abandonment grows up ambivalent toward relationships. They desire something of which they are fundamentally fearful. In ambivalent relationships, there is no safety. Love and acceptance one day do not guarantee love and acceptance the next day, even under identical circumstances. The only constant the child has on which to affix blame for this inconsistency is self. The child concludes that love is withheld because they are not good enough, or have not communicated strongly enough. There is no security in the relationship with the parent because that person may leave or withdraw love and affection at any time.
Here are the statements that describe those with an ambivalent attachment style:
- I really like sharing my feelings with my partner, but they do not seem as open as I am.
- My feelings can get out of control quickly.
- I worry about being alone.
- I worry about being abandoned in close relationships.
- My partner complains that I am too clingy and emotional.
- I strongly desire to be very intimate with people.
- In my closest relationships, the other person doesn’t seem as desirous of intimacy and closeness as I am.
- I worry a great deal about being rejected by others.
- I tend to value close, intimate relationships over personal achievement and success.
- When I get stressed, I desperately seek others for support, but no one seems as available as I would like them to be.
A person with an ambivalent attachment style is constantly looking for proof of love and affection. They are distrustful of others and seek to verify the relationship, often with extreme behaviors that can backfire and alienate the other person. Because the relationship seems always in jeopardy, the ambivalent person tends to focus obsessively on the relationship. How is it going? Are there any problems? Did I do everything right? How does the other person feel about me? No amount of reasonable reassurance seems enough, and the person appears needy and clingy while at the same time capably of extreme anger and rage.
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How different types of affection affect our relationships and what to do about it
If you choose a partner from the wrong category, the union is unlikely to be strong.
We are all programmed to be attached to other people. That is why the child cries when he is separated from his mother for some time. But depending on the behavior of loved ones in our childhood, personal experience and other factors, each of us forms our own type of attachment. It affects not only our relationships, but also ourselves.
What are the types of attachments
For people of this category, it is absolutely natural to love and care for someone. They are able to form a close bond with another person without worrying about petty misunderstandings.
"Reliable" accept partners as they are and treat them with respect. They do not play games or use manipulation, but openly talk about their successes and failures, needs and feelings. In addition, such people are attentive to the desires of a loved one and try to fulfill them.
“Reliable” people also have stable self-esteem, so they calmly perceive criticism and competently cope with conflicts. Instead of heating up the situation, they try to solve the problem, forgive a loved one or apologize.
People with this type of attachment desire closeness and are able to maintain close contact. Their main problem is elsewhere. They are afraid of being abandoned, and for the sake of maintaining relationships, they forget about their own desires and needs in order to please their partner. But as a result, they feel unhappy.
Anxious are fully occupied with relationships and are always "connected" to a partner. At the same time, they may worry that he wants intimacy to a lesser extent. This type takes everything to heart and gives a negative connotation to any comment of others in his address, expecting the worst.
To get rid of anxiety, such people begin to manipulate their partner. They deliberately move away to get attention and hear that they are needed. "Anxious" can react emotionally, do not answer calls, provoke a loved one to jealousy and threaten to break up. In addition, this type is quite jealous and tends to often call or write to a partner, even when he asks not to do so.
It includes two subtypes. The first - "disparaging" - is able to easily "cut off" difficult emotions. Narcissists and those who are used to suppressing their feelings fall into this category. The second - "scared" - wants close relationships, but is afraid of them and does not know how to trust.
In general, avoidant people avoid intimacy because independence is more important to them. Of course, this does not mean that they do not like close communication at all. It's just that for them there is a certain line that should not be crossed.
In relationships they are independent, rely only on themselves and do not like to talk about their feelings. Avoiders defend their freedom and try their best to delay the moment when they have to make any commitments. And when people with this type of attachment still start a relationship, they keep their distance, notice even the smallest flaws in a partner, nostalgic for a free life or dream of an ideal union.
"Avoiders" react sharply to any attempts to control them or restrict their freedom. In such situations, they begin to distance themselves again: flirt with others, make rash decisions, and also ignore a loved one, his emotions and needs. The partner may complain that they feel unwanted, and also that the "avoidant" is not open enough and does not share his secrets and experiences.
Often a person with an avoidant type of attachment considers his partner to be clingy, and against this background, he is even stronger and more independent. He doesn't worry about the end of the relationship. However, when a crack appears in a couple, the “avoiders” pretend that they do not need any connections at all and “bury” their feelings even deeper. At the same time, people with this type of attachment have the same need for intimacy as others - it is simply suppressed.
It is also called ambivalent or disorganized. This attachment variant combines the anxious and avoidant types, respectively, and is commonly found in survivors of abuse. Such people crave love, intimacy and care, but are afraid to enter into a relationship. They are afraid of the prospect of rejection. At the same time, they believe that they are unworthy of good things.
How Type of Attachment Affects Relationships
Even the most independent of us are surprised when we notice how dependent we become when we enter into a romantic relationship. This happens because an intimate relationship subconsciously stimulates our type of attachment and we begin to either trust a person or be wary of everything that happens.
To better understand how everything works in a couple, you can analyze the type of partner's attachment and start with his relationship to intimacy. Does he try to meet your needs or aggressively respond to your requests? Does he say that he is uncomfortable, or does he take a step forward and then distance himself? Self-confident people will not play games, show intractability, refuse to compromise.
Anxious and avoidant often form codependent relationships. Each of them does not understand their needs and the needs of the partner. That is why they are drawn to each other. Both types are rarely interested in "reliable" people, simply because healthy relationships are unfamiliar territory for them. And an alliance with someone who has similar problems confirms their fears and feeds the belief that they are not good enough for love.
Another feature of the “anxious” is that they quickly enter into a relationship, instead of pausing and analyzing how a potential partner meets their requirements. They focus on similarities with another person, idealize the chosen one and ignore possible problems. At the same time, the “anxious” forget about their needs and do not know how to properly build communication with a partner.
This is precisely the reason why the anxious type converges with the avoidant one. When the "avoiders" begin to move away, the experiences of the "anxious" intensify. They confuse their longing and anxiety with love, not realizing that in fact the problem is not in them, but in the inaccessibility of a partner. And unfortunately, whatever they do, they can't change it. "Anxious" spend more and more energy on maintaining relationships, afraid to face the truth. And the “avoiders” need someone who will look for meetings with them. It helps them meet their emotional needs.
In addition, in contrast to the reliable type, "anxious" and "avoidant" do not know how to resolve conflicts, but instead begin to defend themselves and attack the enemy. Without conflict, impulsive behavior, and "chasing" an unavailable partner, unreliable types sink into depression associated with past relationships.
How to Change Your Attachment Type
Although most of us don't change our attachment type, it can be adjusted to make us feel more comfortable. Psychotherapy or relationships with a “reliable” partner help with this.
Changing the type of attachment is also inextricably linked with overcoming codependency. This can be done in a few steps:
- Get rid of the feeling of shame and work on self-esteem. This will allow you not to take everything to heart.
- Start expressing your opinion more assertively.
- Learn to notice, respect and express your emotional needs.
- Be honest - stop playing games and manipulating others.
- Practice acceptance of yourself and others.
- Stop overreacting to little things. It is difficult, but possible, if you identify the main triggers and find out the mechanism for their appearance.
- Take care of yourself.
- Practice conflict resolution and compromise.
"Anxious" need to take responsibility for themselves and learn not to rush at the initial stage of the relationship. And for the “avoidant” - take responsibility for a partner, deal with their weaknesses, learn to respect and accept their need for love, and build boundaries.
This is especially true for the "anxious" and "avoidant" who have recently come out of a codependent relationship. With this development of events, both types may think that if they open again, they will find themselves in an even more dependent position. Actually this is not true. A healthy attachment to another person, on the contrary, helps to become more independent. It provides a reliable and solid foundation for studying the world.
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- How We Lose Ourselves in Relationships and Can We Avoid It
How does attachment theory influence the choice of romantic partners
What is attachment theory and why is it important even for adults?
Perhaps you have heard from adherents of "kitchen psychology" that a man is looking for a woman who looks like a mother, and a woman looks for a partner who looks like a father? These super simplistic ideas come from psychotherapeutic concepts that so many important things are laid in childhood.
Do not self-medicate! In our articles, we collect the latest scientific data and the opinions of authoritative health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.
Of course, human relationships are much more complex than simple formulas, but our choice of romantic partners can really depend on what our families were like. This relationship is described by a psychological model known as attachment theory.
What is attachment theory?
The theory, originally developed by the psychoanalyst John Bowlby, was expanded upon by the psychologist Mary Ainsworth. This concept argues that our very first relationships in life - especially with parents or guardians - largely determine what our adult personal life will be like.
Bowlby and Ainsworth believed that a person is born with an innate desire to become attached to a parent (usually a mother). And how adequately (or not) the parent responds with care will ultimately affect how we will build our romantic relationships in the future.
What kind of attachment can there be?
Attachment theory is quite complicated, but if we simplify it very much, each of us falls into one of two teams according to the type of attachment:
- Secure, confident and secure attachment
- Insecure attachment subtype:
- anxious attachment
- avoidant attachment
- Anxious-Avoidant Attachment
- Disruptive/Disoriented Attachment
This is considered to be the healthiest type of attachment possible.
How is it formed?
Securely attached people had secure parents (or guardians). Whenever a child needed protection, a loved one was there to surround him with care, love and safety.
What does it look like?
As they mature, secure attachment people build relationships without fear of rejection or intimacy. They feel comfortable getting close to other people and trust that if their lover (or best friend) says they're not leaving, then they really aren't going anywhere.
People with this type of attachment will not "accidentally" read their partner's messages on social networks or force him/her to report their whereabouts.
A type also known as "anxious-ambivalent" or "anxious-resistant". People with this type of attachment are usually perceived as very needy for love and acceptance.
How is it formed?
Anxious attachment is thought to form when the parent has not met the needs of the child, has not responded to calls, or has been physically absent most of the time (due to work, divorce, depression, illness or death, etc. ).
What does it look like?
A person with anxious attachment is constantly afraid of being rejected or neglected. To suppress these fears, she or she becomes obsessive, seeking to be in contact 24/7, constantly checking the partner's social networks.
As a rule, such people tend to find themselves in super-codependent relationships with those who have a similar attachment style. But they can also be attracted to people with avoidant attachment, as their relationship dynamics can repeat the contact that was with their parents.
If you have ever met a person who has completely closed his feelings to others, then most likely you understand what avoidant attachment is.
How is it formed?
When a parent rejects a child's needs or considers them superfluous, eventually the child stops stating his needs altogether. Instead, they turn inward, switch off, and try to learn to be independent and independent.
What does it look like?
As an adult, the avoidant seeks isolation and independence. He often appears self-centered, selfish or cold, and regards feelings and emotions as something unimportant.
Relationships are not a priority for such people. They can avoid them altogether, without committing themselves, or move from one frivolous connection to another.
Anxious avoidant attachment
"Loves - does not love, spit - kiss, press to the heart - send to hell." Something like this childish saying can describe people with anxious-avoidant attachment.
How is it formed?
Anxious-avoidant attachment, as the name implies, is the “child of love” of avoidant and anxious attachments. It is less common than the "pure" types, and is more often formed due to traumatic relationships with parents. Sometimes the parent was very "intense" or aggressively present, sometimes not at all. Because of this, the child was trapped out of fear of close adults and the desire to receive love and comfort from them.
What does it look like?
People with anxious-avoidant attachment often find themselves in tumultuous relationships ranging from "everything is very good" to "everything is very bad." Relationships associated with abuse and violence are not uncommon (“press to the heart - send to hell”).
It is also called disoriented or insecurely disorganized. People with this type of attachment are often unstable or unpredictable.
How is it formed?
People with disorganized attachment often experienced traumatic parental experiences as a child, such as emotional or physical abuse. As with anxious-avoidant attachment, the child is torn between fear of the parent and the need to be loved by him.
What does it look like?
People with disruptive attachment are both afraid of being too close and too far from their loved ones. These are the kings and queens of a self-fulfilling prophecy - they crave affection, but, fearing closeness, "hit first", creating drama from scratch and starting meaningless abuse ("he invented it - he was offended by himself").
Is there any critique of attachment theory?
As with most groundbreaking work, the scientific study that became the foundation of attachment theory was created on a sample of middle-class white heterosexual families. There is not enough data on how this theory works with children from families with different cultural traditions or specific experiences.
How do I know what type of attachment I have?
This is not so easy to do on your own, "from the inside", since an assessment of the history of family and romantic relationships is necessary. It is believed that the best way to find out your type of attachment is psychotherapy. The therapist helps to explore and analyze the nuances of life experience, deal with problems and develop the necessary skills.
Of course, there are online tests to determine the type of attachment, but they will not replace a specialist.
I have one of the insecure attachment types. What can be done about it?
Attachment of one kind or another is deeply rooted in our psyche, but it is not set in stone. Here's what you can do:
- Go to psychotherapy. The use of therapy can help in understanding the past, identifying patterns and developing important communication mechanisms.
- Develop relationships with people whose attachment was secure. This will help you learn about what a healthy type of attachment looks like.
- Communicate with your partner. Regular communication can help manage expectations, build trust in relationships, and maintain personal boundaries.