You may have read the title and thought to yourself… what in the world is an attachment style in the first place? Simply put, humans are hardwired for connection. You, me, and everyone else we encounter! Our attachment style plays a crucial role in shaping the relationships all around us today, even though most attachment styles were already formed from patterns of behavior and emotional responses in your early childhood. That is why it is so important to take a moment to dive into our attachment styles and evaluate how they influence and impact our interactions with others. Then, we can check if they are in alignment with our goals, boundaries, beliefs, and self.
Secure Attachment – This is what we all yearn for. Those with secure attachment styles have positive views of themselves and others. They are comfortable with intimacy, their relationships have appropriate separateness, they don’t fear help, and are able to trust those around them.
- They can express their needs + trust they will be acknowledged
- They are able to co-regulate through challenging emotions
- They actively practice healthy boundaries
- They are comfortable with imperfection + focus on connection + safety
Dismissive Attachment – The Dismissive Avoidant tends to stem from a child who had a parent that was usually considered successful, self-sufficient, with rigid boundaries and an inability to bond. They tend to be extremely emotionally distant and more concerned about the order of things, a career, or how life appears from the outside looking in.
- They are highly critical (of themselves and of others)
- They are often rigid and controlling
- They can be emotionally distant
- They may often say that they “don’t need” close relationships
Anxious Attachment – The Anxious Attachment usually stems from a child who worries a parent will leave. Boundaries are blurred and attunement is inconsistent (yo-yo style). They often fear they are responsible for their parents’ unhappiness or anger, and feel anxious because their feelings aren’t ever noticed, validated, or are labeled “high maintenance/needy.” They people please, try to be perfect, and tend to those around them, slowly abandoning their inner emotional needs.
- Often the generous one or the “helper”
- They crave attention + intimacy
- They struggle with open communication
- They have a deeply rooted fear of abandonment
The Fearful Avoidant Attachment – Usually stems from a child who lacked bonding with a parent or caregiver and therefore fears any bonds of the future. They aren’t able to trust and often withdraw or sabotage when it turns intimate. Unlike Anxious Attachment who enjoys closeness yet worries of disconnect, Fearful Avoidant has a lower tolerance for connecting and gets overwhelmingly anxious and fearful when they get too close to someone.
- They withdraw + shut down often
- They will sabotage their relationships for fear of closeness
- They resist commitment
- They can be unpredictable
Understanding your attachment style, that it was imprinted upon you long ago, and that you are able to grow and change it, are all powerful tools in your healing. This can provide us with insight into every single relationship in our life today! Are you a parent wanting to change the way you connect with your children for the first time in generations? Are you the spouse who wants to end a cycle of broken relationships in your family? Are you the coworker who wants to be able to stay committed to a job for longer than before? Maybe you’re the individual who wants lifelong friendships but is stuck in knowing where to begin.
Anything you have learned can be unlearned. Find peace in that. Read and revisit this with an honest lens through your healing and watch yourself chip away at dysfunction and grow deeper into security. Through reflection and dedication (and maybe a few long overdue tears or talks with God), we can foster healthier, more fulfilling connections to ourselves and those we love most.
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