How your attachment style affects your relationships and life

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What is an attachment style anyway?

your attachment style is the way you form intimate relationships with others. During childhood your attachment style gets determined by the way your caregivers raise you.

Based upon the treatment you get from your parents/caregivers you can develop any of the following attachment styles:

  • Secure attachment: If the caregiver was always there to meet the child's needs then he will develop secure attachment. Securely attached children are able to separate from their parents without getting distressed, can have long trusting relationships, feel happy when their parents return and usually have a higher self esteem than other children.
  • Ambivalent/anxious attachment: If the caregiver wasn't always available to meet the child's needs then the child will develop anxious or ambivalent attachment, In other words, the child will realize that he can't fully trust the caregiver and as a result he will develop problems trusting people in general. Those children usually have problems with developing intimacy and are usually the ones who become needy and obsessed in relationships
  • Avoidant attachment: If the caregiver wasn't available to meet the child's needs then the child might conclude that he can't depend on anyone to get his needs met and as a result he might develop Avoidant attachment. In such a case the child might show little preference between a parent and a stranger and might not seek comfort from the parent

How your attachment style affects your relationships and life

Those attachment styles affect the way a person forms relationships with others throughout his life.

Securely attached children usually have no problem forming long lasting relationships because they have no problem in trusting others. They won't feel distressed if their lovers didn't call for few hours and they usually feel loved and appreciated. (see How insecure people behave)

Anxiously attached children become very needy in relationships. They always question the love of their friends and romantic partners. They might display obsessive behaviour such as calling very often, asking whether people like them or not all the time and over analyzing every small detail.

Children the avoidant attachment style tend to avoid intimacy all together. Because of the way they were raised they learned to devalue the value of intimacy and close relationships. Those people usually have problems expressing their emotions and talking about their feelings.

How to prevent your attachment style from ruining your life

The problems you had with your previous relationships may have been primarily caused by your attachment style. That's why the first step you need to take in order to prevent your attachment style from ruining your life is to know which attachment style you developed during childhood. (see also How childhood experiences affect adulthood)

After you realize what your attachment style is you need to examine your behaviour through a different lens. If for example you found yourself so needy then you must remind yourself that you are acting that way because of your old childhood wound.

Next you need to let your partner understand your attachment style so that he can help you compensate for your bad childhood experiences. As you do some effort and as your understanding partner helps you out you might get over that old wound and become able to form normal relationships.

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