Attachment Theory 101
In the first 6-8 months of life, you learned to connect on different levels to other human beings—primarily your parents. This happened on a deeply instinctual level and is not something you chose to do. You just did it. Here’s how it works.
When you cried or expresses a need, your parent had a couple of options on how to respond:
- They could compassionately meet your need by comforting, changing, protecting, or feeding you. If they did this easily and confidently then you learned that the world will meet your needs and you become securely attached.
- They could meet your needs physically but do it with a level of anxiousness and fear. If this was their attitude, then you become anxiously attached.
- They could ignore you all together. If this happened, you learned not to connect to anyone emotionally and that no one will meet your needs. You learned you’re on your own and became avoidant attached.
Yes, I know… there is more to attachment theory. This is just a quick fly by so you understand how Attachment will impact your relationships.
See which of the following categories describes you and/or your partner.
Secure Adults With Secure Attachments
If you are a Secure Adult, then you believe that “I’m okay and others are okay too.” Here are some of the characteristics of what you bring to a relationship.
- You are comfortable with intimacy
- You are prepared to be emotionally vulnerable
- You will relay on the support of others
- You are confident that you are valued and loved
If you’re an Anxious Adult, then you believe that “I’m not okay.” Here are some of the characteristics of what you bring to a relationship.
- You have a deep desire for closeness and dependence, but…
- You are concerned with or expect to be rejected
- Your relationships are typified by jealousy
- You have a low level of trust
- There is mutual dissatisfaction in the relationship
- You desire commitment but can also be controlling
If you are an Avoidant Adult, then you believe that “Others are not okay.” Here are some of the characteristics of what you would bring to a relationship.
- You are not as anxious but also view relationships as unimportant
- You value independence and are self-reliant
- Your relationships have low levels of inter-dependence, commitment, trust
- Your relationships are not very satisfying
- If you break up, you have relatively little distress
If you are an anxious-avoidant adult, then you believe that “I’m not okay and others are not okay.” Here are some of the characteristics of what you would bring to a relationship.
- You have higher levels of anxiety
- You are much more avoidant
- You have a strong desire to gain the approval of others
- Because you fear being rejected you avoid intimacy by sabotaging your relationships
Understanding attachment is most helpful in understanding yourself or your spouse. Don’t go pointing your finger and saying, “See, I knew there was something screwed up with you.” Be kind and understanding with each other. If you or your spouse is avoidant or anxious or both then it will take some specific help to unlearn bad behavior and relearn better relating tools. Be patient. At least you know yourself better now.
I came across this information on a post by Graeme Armstrong MBACP. If you want to read more, please visit his post.