There are 4 attachment styles known in the attachment theory. These will all be explained in this blog!
What are attachment styles?
As people we are wired to connect with others in order to increase our chances of survival. When we are newly born, we are dependent on others to provide for our needs to stay alive, like food, attention and safety.
What we will learn through those first connections in life will become our relationship blueprint in adulthood. This contains romantic relationships, but also relationships with friends and colleagues/bosses. This is a mainly unconscious process. Until you start to notice a pattern of disfunctional relationships or personal issues induced by social interaction problems, like fear of commitment or abandonment.
Secure attachment style
With a secure attachment you have learned to trust yourself as well as others. You have experienced enough responsivity to your emotions from your caregivers. For instance when you were feeling sad, your parent comforted you in that moment with loving attention and presence.
Your feelings were taken into account and you got to built a sense of worthiness, belonging and confidence in yourself. This gave you a feeling of safety to explore the world, knowing you always have a safe haven to return to. The root chakra (0-7 years) was able to develop.
This attachment style is the best base to build of functional relationships, eventhough you can also build these from other attachment styles as well!
Anxious attachment style
People with this attachment style have learned to not trust themselves enough as they got inconsistent and unreliable responses from caregivers to their emotions. This caused their focus to be on the outside even more for getting their needs met. Relationships can be a big stressor for them, as it causes a lot of insecurity and worry.
They look for confirmation of their worthiness outside of theirselves and can be preoccupied by not being loved when they are not near their loved ones. But it doesn’t matter how much assurance they get from their partner, the anxiety will remain. The only way to change it is to adress the anxiety and start trusting themselves in being able to fulfill their own emotional needs, in stead of being dependent on others for this.
Avoidant attachment style
People with this attachment style have learned to mostly rely on themselves, as they have learned their caregivers weren’t emotionally available to them. This could be the case when children get to cope with parentification; having to take care of their parent in any way, or when parents didn’t respond in a way that the child felt seen. They started to distrust others in being able to care for their needs.
Often people with an avoidant attachment style keep distance in a relationship and are less likely to share a lot about themselves. They have trouble with dependency on others, as they have learned others weren’t available for them. Also they can say they don’t desire a relationship or feel happiest when alone. They deny their need for intimacy and relationships, while deep down they yearn for it. Being close and intimate scares them too much.
Desorganized attachment style
This attachment style is a combination of anxious and avoidant. It’s often seen in people who experienced childhood trauma, like abuse, which made their ‘safe’ person also an ‘unsafe’ person simultaneously.
They haven’t learned to trust themselves nor others, as other people were a source of unsafety, but they were dependent on them for fulfulling their needs as well.
People with this attachment style are ambivilent and they often end up in toxic push and pull relationships sometimes even with a certain way of abuse involved. They want to be close, but also fear and distrust the other.
Can you change your attachment style?
The answer to this question is definitely YES! It does take time, effort and a lot of conscious choices to become securely attached. When in a disfunctional relationship a secure attached person can become insecurely attached too.
What you actually want to do is reprogram your brain to change the current insecure relationship blueprint. So how do you do that? Here are some tips!
✦ Get to know in what situations feelings of unsafety arise for you. In this way you start to build safety in yourself.
✦ Communicate your feelings of unsafety and what makes you feel unsafe. Dare to be vulnerable and rewrite the narrative.
✦ Build conscious relationships with people who are able to receive you, like to share and go on this journey with you. This could be friends or family, but also a professional.
✦ Take emotional risks in social contact. If something is holding you back because of anxiety it’s probably your programmed brain. Rise above that and do it anyway!