Understanding Attachment Styles And How They Impact Our Relationships

Understanding Attachment Styles And How They Impact Our Relationships

The theory of Attachment. It is the foundation to understanding how and why we relate to and interact with others the way we do. With the help of previous research by John Bowlby, theorist Mary Ainsworth identified three styles of attachment that develop throughout our childhood: secure attachment, anxious/ambivalent-insecure attachment, and avoidant-insecure attachment. Though attachment styles are developed when we are very young, studies determine that they help to predict our relational behavior later in life. So, what might that look like? Attachment develops in infancy. As infants, we look to our parents to take care of our physical and emotional needs. This means the parent is present, accepting, and consistent in their comforting responses to us when we are upset. This kind of experience creates a secure attachment bond, which, in turn, gives a child the security to freely explore his/her surroundings when the parent is nearby. Though a child may show distress when separation occurs, he/she can be soothed once the parent returns.
Anxious/ambivalent-insecure attachment develops when parents tend to be inconsistent in responses to their child’s signals of distress. Due to the inconsistency, these children tend to exaggerate attachment needs by becoming clingy when the parent is around, extremely distressed when the parent leaves, and resistant to the parent’s return. Though the child eventually reaches out to the parent, he/she has difficulty being soothed and comforted. Avoidant-insecure attachment is associated with a pattern of care in which the parent does not provide adequate comfort when the child is emotionally upset, ill, or hurt. Due to lack of adequate comfort, the child is minimally distressed when there is parental separation and will avoid and ignore the presence of the parent when he/she returns. Ultimately, the insecurely attached child will adapt in ways that are not emotionally and mentally healthy in order to fill the void that is left by the parent. These methods will make it difficult to maintain relationships in adulthood. Understanding your attachment style through counseling is really the first step in moving towards changing relational behavior. If insecure attachment is present, you may be experiencing depression, grief or anxiety. In these times you may look to other forms of coping such as drinking or overeating because you do not feel comforted, accepted or secure in your relationships. However, meeting with a therapist will help to ease such distress, develop a sense of security, and allow you to find intimacy in your relationships.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ thirty three = 40