Have you ever been in a relationship with someone that you deemed “emotionally unavailable?” Or come across a friend or partner that seemed a bit too needy? These are all linked to individuals attachment styles, which dictate how we select, progress, and end relationships. Our attachment styles dictate our strengths in social situations, as well as our set backs, and they are typically fixed during early childhood.
We can become more aware of our type of attachment style to understand how it effects our relationships, thus improving how we maintain relationships with those in our life. Our attachment style shows us how we act (or don’t act) towards others in order to get our needs met. Some attachment styles give us security and peace of mind within a relationship, while others may provide challenges for finding the ideal mate.
Here is an outline of the various types of attachment styles. By identifying with the type of attachment style that fits you, you can learn how it affects your relationships and how you can improve your communication with others.
1: Secure: This type of attachment style allows for individuals to feel “secure” and content with their relationships. There is a lot of trust put into partners and families with this type of attachment style. Relationships can have more freedom, honesty, and openness, and feelings of being connected, and children may feel independent all while viewing their parents as a source of security. This type of attachment is formed early on in childhood when parents play a lot with their child. The needs of these children are met fairly quickly with quick reactions from parents.
2: Anxious preoccupied: This attachment style seems to come from a feeling of desperation. An individual with this type of style may have a deep need to feel loved or wanted, and they want to feel completed with their relationships, often feeling empty or incomplete if single. These types of individuals tend to be clingy, insecure within their relationships, or extremely possessive. Children who become anxious preoccupied tend to have “helicopter parents” who worry constantly or becomes too needy, thus not providing proper opportunities for the child to become independent.
3: Dismissive avoidant: These types of people may seem to be “emotionally unavailable”. They distance themselves from those they are in relationships with others and tend to only look inward nurturing the needs of themselves. These individuals tend to shut down feelings that come up in situations or have an attitude as if they don’t care about others. Past relationships can lead to someone form this type of attachment style – usually a relationship where the partner left them, or a long-distance relationship didn’t last. The person with this type of attachment style usually compares new relationships to a previous one that in their own mind, cannot be beat.
4: Fearful avoidant: This type of attachment style is interesting as those who experience it don’t want to get too close to others in a relationship, yet they don’t want to distance themselves too much either. This type of attachment can lead to anxiety and emotional “ups and downs”. These individuals can have an unpredictable personality and most often than not have very dramatic relationships. In childhood, an individual who develops this type of attachment style may have endured an abusive upbringing or experienced neglect. Highly demanding parents whose children are constantly trying to impress them may also cause their child to lose their own traits and personalities due to wanting to please their parents.
If you identify with a secure attachment pattern, you may have the natural ability to connect with others and understand how to have a confident, communicative relationship. If you notice that you feel like you need to be around your partner constantly, and that you need consistent reassurance of the security of your relationship, then you may have an anxious/preoccupied attachment style. For those who have a dismissive/avoidant attachment style, you may be more likely to act “emotional unavailable” as if you do not have any needs that have to bet met in a relationship.
Although you may identify with one of these attachment styles, they do not have to dictate how you live your life. You can discover traits about yourself that you may not have been aware of before, and can work with a therapist to form new thought patterns and behaviors to help you create successful and long lasting relationships in the future.