Knowing your attachment style can help navigate relationships
If you have noticed a trend in your love life and family relationships for as far back as you can remember, then that is likely not a random coincidence. Instead, it might be the result of falling into one of the four major attachment styles. We all want to be in good relationships, but it can be hard if you don’t realize why you do things and react the way you do. You may want to find the perfect mate or you are currently married and want to have a healthier relationship — maybe even as a positive model for children.
First, you need to understand your particular style and what you can do to properly navigate a healthy relationship. Let’s talk about the different attachment styles and what you can do to break the mold and engage in healthier relationships.
What Are the 4 Attachment Styles?
When we talk about attachment styles, we are speaking about attachment theory, which essentially categorizes most people into four styles. These are molds that were created when you were a young child. Basically, the way that you were raised and the relationship that you had with your parents or caretakers will dictate how you act and handle relationships in your adult life. The four styles are anxious, avoidant, disorganized, and secure.
- Anxious — This style essentially means that you are so attached to your partner that you get worried or anxious when they are not around. You may also have a negative self-image, so you are constantly asking for approval from your partner because you don’t want them to leave. This style is often tied to abandonment issues.
- Avoidant — Quite the opposite of anxious attachment, avoidant people are very confident in themselves and believe that they don’t need to be in a relationship in order to feel happy or complete. Avoidant people also don’t want to depend on others. Basically, those feelings may keep them from being in a relationship and becoming truly happy.
- Disorganized or fearful-avoidant — A bit of a combination of the two previous styles, people with disorganized attachment can switch between wanting intense closeness and having trouble trusting their mates. The fact that their needs fluctuate may make it more difficult for them to have healthy, stable relationships.
- Secure — Secure attachment is what we strive to achieve. A secure person is able to show their emotions and be honest with their partners. They are happy being in a relationship, but they are not fearful if they are between partners as they know that they will be alright alone or find new love in time.
Understanding Your Attachment Style
When it comes to thinking about your personal attachment style, you need to think back to your childhood. Were you a kid who constantly needed to be by your parent’s side, or were you always a loner who wanted to do things on their own? If you still see those same behaviors in yourself today, then you at least know where to start.
If you suspect you have an insecure attachment style, the issue also could have been with the environment in your home as a child. If your parents didn’t spend the appropriate time with you, then you may fit the avoidant attachment style. If your parents never really gave you a lot of independence, then you may be more anxious when you are alone.
Sometimes, your attachment style may not result in negative relationships. You might find someone that is the opposite of you and still be able to work as a team and be happy. The real issues come if you are unable to sustain a long-term relationship or you are constantly anxious, stressed, or unhappy. At that point, you may need to make some adjustments.
Navigating Relationship Difficulties
If you truly care about the person you are with, then you need to try and find a way to make it work while keeping your attachment style in mind. An important step toward negotiating relationship troubles is to contribute a solution to a recurring problem. Essentially, if your attachment style is causing a continuous riff, and you recognize that now, then tell your partner how you feel and why you are acting a certain way and try to create a positive path moving forward.
Also, own up to your wrongdoings. If you cause an issue, don’t only blame it on your childhood but try to find a way to move on despite your attachment style. Tell your partner that it will take some work, but you are dedicated to the success of your relationship.
If your relationship is going fairly well but you still feel a lot of anxiety, then you can work on that as well. You can truly understand your stress by using anxiety worksheets that help you to figure out your triggers and understand the techniques that may help you to feel better. Sometimes, writing down your thoughts is a great first step to improving mental health.
In the case that you try everything but are still unhappy in your relationships or during everyday life, then it may be a good idea to make an appointment with a therapist that specializes in attachment issues. The therapist will use many tactics, including cognitive, holistic, and humanistic therapy, to help you to understand your behaviors and why you handle relationships the way that you do. The hope is that you can learn from your past and take the steps to truly be happy. Crossroads Health can also provide the mental health services that you need to thrive.
As you can see, there is a lot more that goes into your family and love life than you may realize. By understanding your attachment style, you can take the steps toward happy and rewarding adult relationships.
Guest post by Luke Smith
Tags: behavioral health, crossroads health, lake county, mental health, mental health awareness, mental health cleveland, mental health treatment, Mentor Ohio, navigating relationships, relationships, self care