The attachment theory is a psychological theory that explains how our early emotional connections shape our individual, emotional and social development throughout the rest of our lives. It identifies three main attachment styles that we can belong to…
Anxious attachment is characterized by a strong need for closeness and intimacy with others, along with a fear of abandonment or rejection.
This can arise during childhood when parents are present and then suddenly absent, be it physically or emotionally. If someone doesn’t receive adequate emotional responsiveness as a child, it can lead them to be sceptical of dependability in adulthood.
When it comes to romantic relationships, people with anxious attachment desire connection, love and are definitely still capable of having healthy, successful relationships, as long as they recognise their behaviours and have a secure partner willing to navigate through the attachment with them.
Avoidant attachment is a pattern of behaviour that is characterized by emotional detachment, a desire for independence and a tendency to avoid close or lengthy relationships.
People with an avoidant attachment style may appear emotionally distant, self-sufficient, and may have difficulty expressing their emotions or being vulnerable with others.
Much like anxious attachments, avoidants can stem from emotional inconsistency during their childhood, adding to a belief one must solely rely on oneself. Cultural and societal factors can also contribute to developing an avoidant style, as it places a strong emphasis on individualism and self-reliance.
They may also have a tendency to minimize the importance of close relationships and instead focus on external goals and achievements.
Those with secure attachment tend to be empathetic, able to set appropriate boundaries, 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.
Secure attachments would have most likely experienced having their emotional needs met as a child, as well as viewing healthy, stable relationships within the home.
However, a secure attachment style doesn’t necessarily mean that those with it will have perfect relationships, it just may mean they have the capacity to deal with problems that arise within the partnership in a healthy way.
Like anything, we don’t fit into just one box for the rest of our lives. These are just the main three styles, there are many different combinations of behaviours and attributes. Some may belong to several, some may subconsciously belong to one they never considered.
Our ongoing life experiences continue to shape us as people, we change and grow every day. Some may change from one to another due to life circumstances, and not everyone who belongs to anxious/avoidant have experienced early trauma or negative experiences. There is no right or wrong with the attachment theory.
Our attachment styles do not define us as such or make us who we are, they provide us with an answer to the emotive “why’s?”, a dive into how our early connections really are a vital aspect of shaping how we all stumble through the rest of our lives.