Do you battle with insecurities in relationships? Do you enjoy the chase but you’re unable to commit…Maybe you’re attached to those who are emotionally unavailable for you? Or perhaps you find yourself anxious regardless of how much reassurance you get.
You live in fear of abandonment but yet you want space. When you think about love and relationships there are always a million different ways for us to get stuck. You may fall for the wrong person, become codependent, or just avoid the whole thing without taking any risks.
If you want to make smarter choices when it comes to your relationships, you’ll need trust, and willingness to grow. Every individual, situation, and perception will be unique. Your attachment style may play a big role in how you handle things. So, these are just a few tips/tricks to think about moving forward.
You must first become an introspective individual for a moment and ask yourself, why do I behave in this way? What is my motivation? What am I fearful of and Where does it stem from? By taking a moment to ask yourself these questions, you are identifying your patterns in relationships.
The founder of Attachment Theory, John Bowlby focused on the relationships between people. In particular those between a parent and child and between romantic partners.
His work distinguishes how we attach to others based on how our caregivers related to us when we were younger. As well as how that affected the way we learn about independence, dependence, receiving and giving love/affection.
The importance of Bowlby’s work distinguished how our early attachment caregivers can affect who we are and how we choose our romantic/sexual partners in the future. So, how do you handle closeness, intimacy, dating, and romance?
The 4 Main Attachment Styles
1 Secure Attachment
- These individuals might find relationships, intimacy, and commitment a lot easier and more straightforward than a majority of people. In the early stages of life their parents were able to teach them that it’s safe to rely on others. They learned how to tolerate disappointment without falling apart and understanding that a let down does not lead to shutdowns. If you fall under this category you may find it particularly easy to become emotionally close to others while also not having a difficult time being alone or accepted. This style of attachment typically emerges from a history of comforting and understanding interactions with their caregivers.
Maria’s parents were divorced but they still managed to show her support and affection throughout her life regardless of their marital status. Her boyfriend of 6 years left her for another woman, and although she was devastated, and disappointed she was able to handle the affairs better than most people. Now, due to her secure attachments growing up, she was able to turn to her friends and new connections to help her rebuild from the trauma.
2 Avoidant Attachment
- These individuals have experienced parents who dismissed their feelings, causing them to shut down and find it difficult to express themselves wholeheartedly, or parents who have not given them room for personal or emotional space. This may cause them fear of opening up to someone new as they may grow up comfortably without close emotional relationships. Their desire for independence often appears as an attempt to avoid attachments altogether. It might also result in problems with intimacy, lack of social and romantic emotions, and an unwillingness to share thoughts or feelings with others.
Sarah had a hard time opening up to potential partners. She put little effort and emotions when it came to relationships, and didn’t seem all too bothered when they wouldn’t work out.
3 Ambivalent Attachment
- Those of Ambivalent (anxious) Attachments have had parents who were inconsistent with their love, and support when they needed it. This may cause a lack of security in their future as they are confused in their abilities which ultimately leads them to trust no one, including themselves. “I want close intimate relationships but I am afraid others will not accept or value me”. They may display distress when separated from their partner while also worrying it might come to an end.
Jamie would frequently go through partners quickly, because the relationships didn’t make him feel secure or reassured him the way he needed it. In some cases, he found himself rejecting his partners when they comfort him and would openly display aggression toward them. This indicated that his patterns display an over- dependent need from his partners while also rejecting them when he felt anxious.
4 Disorganized Attachment
- Life for these individuals can be confusing…their parents were unreliable through abusive or complete shutdown phases, leaving the child confused by the actions of the person raising them. The love that was taught to them since childhood portrayed abusive dynamics. Their actions and responses are mix behaviors, including avoidance, and resistance.
Wow, that was a lot!… If you are still reading, just BREATHE. It can be overpowering to find yourself in any of the insecure categories. Just know that although I am correlating this to our parents and caregivers, remember that this is not always the case for everyone! Do not point fingers on who is at fault for your attachment style.
However, do take this moment to recognize your patterns and learn to break free from them. It’s time to improve through healthier long-term relationships from friends, lovers, spouses, therapists, and even pets.
Story of a girl with Insecure Attachment
To get a better understanding let me give you an example of one of my closest friends that has an insecure attachment style which is a mixture of ambivalent and avoidant.
This sweet, intelligent, and outgoing woman has been the “other woman” multiple times in the past few years to semi-unavailable lovers. She admits that she is drawn to this unhealthy pattern which stems from the unstable love she received as a child. Like many of us, she enjoys the beginning of things.
The first kiss, the butterflies in her stomach from a text message, or the excitement of someone who might show her love. However, somewhere down the road, the excitement fades as she begins yearning for reassurance from her partner, who are either withdrawing or can not give it to her.
Why doesn’t he want me like I want him? I feel like he doesn’t care about me… it’s been 8 hours and I have not heard from him. Maybe if I reach out again and show that I am interested, he will get back to me.
To add some background knowledge, my friend’s father left her mother and her when she was seven years old. Her mother became emotionally unavailable after this incident, leaving her with inconsistent love throughout her life. She quickly learned to shut down difficult emotions and taught herself to move on without processing everything.
Let her story teach us to not judge another person without knowing what they have been through and the cause behind any self-defeating attitude. Her attachment style experiences of abandonment and feeling unsupported are just a few components that have shaped her approach to future relationships.
How to handle insecure Attachment Styles
Now, from experience and research, the only way we can begin achieving more intimate relationships, isn’t by trying to change others but by focusing on ourselves and learning to not only reach out when needed but to also nurture ourselves.
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