How Does Your Attachment Style Affect Your Relationships?
We all have things we’d like to work on when it comes to how view our relationships. Everyone has days where they experience feelings of doubt, or need extra support from their partner.
But there may be a deeper reason behind why someone ignoring your text for a few hours makes you obsess over what they’re doing. There could be more behind why a small disagreement with a friend can send you into crisis mode.
Here at KMA, we’re relationship experts. Our team of experienced therapists is dedicated to helping you feel more confident in your relationships, so we’ve compiled all the information you need to learn about your attachment style.
Learning more about your attachment style can be a great first step to achieving the healthy relationship you’ve always wanted.
By the end of this article, you’ll learn about the four types of attachment styles and understand the indicators of each one. You'll also know how to set yourself up for secure relationships.
The Four Attachment Styles
Your attachment style is formed in early childhood and revolves around your caregivers’ ability to meet your needs. It can also be influenced by romantic relationships you have later on in life.
There’s no “wrong” attachment style to have, but learning more about the strengths and weaknesses of each attachment style can help you learn what you need to have a healthy relationship.
You may exhibit traits of different attachment styles at different times, or around different people, but your attachment style will be the pattern of behaviour you display most of the time and in most of your relationships.
There are four different attachment styles:
- Disorganized (Fearful Avoidant)
- Anxious (Preoccupied)
- Avoidant (Dismissive)
Anxious Attachment Style
People with an Anxious Attachment Style may have experienced inconsistent responses from their caregivers as children. They can feel clingy and anxious in their adult relationships.
They might have very positive opinions of other people but struggle with their own self-worth.
You might have an anxious attachment style if you:
- Put a lot of effort into relationships and prioritize others
- Have a strong fear that your partner will abandon or leave you
- Get upset at the thought of being alone or separated from loved ones
- Feel a constant to seek out constant reassurance that your partner still loves you
People with an Anxious Attachment Style might feel very insecure in their relationships and worry about their ability to maintain them. In fights with loved ones, they may feel desperate to resolve the conflict as quickly as possible, even if it means compromising their own needs.
Avoidant Attachment Style
People with an Avoidant Attachment Style may have had caregivers who didn’t know how to meet their emotional needs as children.
As adults, they may have a strong sense of self-worth but struggle with trusting others enough to let them into their lives.
You might have an avoidant attachment style if you:
- Have high self-esteem and confidence around others
- Can feel uncomfortable with strong displays of intimacy
- Are extremely independent and have difficulty relying on others
- Have trouble getting in touch with your emotions and prefer to hide them
People with an Avoidant Attachment Style might not feel safe when dealing with conflict in a relationship. Instead, they are likely to withdraw from the situation (and sometimes, even the entire relationship) completely.
Disorganized Attachment Style
People with a Disorganized Attachment Style exhibit both anxious and avoidant traits. They may have experienced unpredictable behaviour from caregivers during childhood.
As adults, they may deeply crave deep emotional connection with others, but fear it at the same time.
You might have a Disorganized Attachment style if you:
- Anticipate other people’s needs
- Constantly wait for the “other shoe to drop” in relationships
- Experience suspicion and a lack of trust toward your partners
- Are prone to self-sabotaging, or end things before they can get “too good”
People with Disorganized Attachment Styles can have trouble identifying their own needs in relationships. They may fluctuate between craving closeness and fearing it.
This can leave them more prone to attracting unhealthy relationships.
Secure Attachment Style
People with a Secure Attachment Style likely experienced consistency and emotional support from their caregivers during childhood.
As adults, they are usually confident in their ability to form strong relationships with other people while maintaining a strong sense of self.
People with a Secure attachment style:
- Are confident communicating their relationship needs
- Are confident in building connections with other people
- Find a balance between independence and trusting others
- Have a positive outlook on themselves, others, and their childhood
Creating Healthy and Secure Relationships
KMA psychotherapist, Naived Thaker, shared some of his tips to support you in achieving the healthy relationship you desire.
“Having a secure attachment style means you’re able to set secure, healthy, and appropriate boundaries with people around you,” says Naived. “This is whoever you’re in a relationship with - including family members and friends.”
Some ways to establish these boundaries include:
- Prioritizing open communication about your feelings with your partner
- Maintaining your independent interests while in a relationship
- Taking time to do things that make you feel good
- Seeing a therapist for extra support
And while attachment styles can certainly be helpful, not everyone will immediately feel like they are relatable. Your attachment style, and how you can perceive it, can be impacted by your cultural upbringing.
However, you can still benefit from speaking to a therapist about your experiences.
“While attachment styles are based on Western research and Western practices in therapy, they can be applied in different cultural contexts,” says Naived. “There are therapists out there that will be more than willing to understand you, in your own place.”
Next Steps to Healing Your Attachment Style
After reading this article, you now have an understanding of the four attachment styles, an idea of what your attachment style might be, and how to set yourself up for success in relationships.
Our team at KMA is experienced in both individual and couples counselling and can help you learn more about what you need in a relationship.
If you aren’t quite ready to speak to a therapist, check out these resources for some more information:
- To learn more about love languages, read: What’s Your Love Language - And Can it Re-ignite the Spark in Your Relationship?
- To explore whether couples counselling may be right for you, read: Will Couples Counselling Help My Relationship?
- To learn about your “inner child,” read: Five Healing Ways to Re-Parent Your Inner Child