How Our Attachment Style Affects Our Relationship Choices
After reading "Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment," we've been puzzling over patterns in our relationships and how they parallel the three attachment styles. This week's guest blog with Dr. Kristin Davin, therapist and professional coach, delves into these dynamics. Proactive and approachable, ‘Dr D’ has been described as a ‘straight shooter.’ She helps people embrace change, cultivate healthier relationships, and become more effective communicators, both personally and professionally. Her areas of focus are: divorce, marriage, dating, life transitions, and relationships. By tapping into a person’s strengths, she helps people maximize their life and live authentically.
We are hardwired to love and be loved back. We seek the warmth, connection, and attachment to another person as this provides us safety and security. We truly never outgrow the need for secure attachment because this is what drives us to become more independent. Think of a baby who has a secure attachment to his or her caregiver and is able to explore and move about the world knowing and feeling, they are there for them. What a sense of security and peace. Yet, contrary to this, being and feeling attached and dependent on someone has gotten a bad rap.
Attachment principles teach us that we are only as ‘needy’ as our unmet needs. So, when our emotional needs are being met in a relationship, the sooner we are able to turn our attention outwards. In attachment literature, this is referred to as the dependency paradox – meaning the more effectively and in healthy ways people are dependent on their partner – the more they create independence in the relationship and thus become more daring and willing to explore. Feeling safe and secure with our partner, we will explore more, not less because the security we feel provides us freedom we want and need. And exploring provides the space that allows the relationship to grow and thrive.
And therein lies the irony.
But people don’t look at it that way. People view dependency as bad and independency as good.
Relationships are not that simple.
To become securely attached, we must first figure out our attachment style. Knowing this tells us many things and will allow us to work on the changes we need to make, if that’s the case, and securely attach to another person in healthy ways.
The three main attachment styles:
Anxious. You love being close to your partner however deep down you fear they do not feel the same way. You are sensitive to their moods and tend to personalize them. You may feel like you are on high alert trying to read their body language and are busy trying to mind read. You get easily upset and respond to negative emotions in ways that results in guilt and regret. You expect things not to work out. You find it difficult to manage your emotions.
Avoidant. Importance is placed on independence. You prefer remaining autonomous within your relationship. You tend to keep your partner at arm’s length despite wanting intimacy. Your partner may complain that you are not emotionally available. You fear that any loss of independence will produce dependency. You constantly look for ways in which your partner is impinging on your time or territory.
Secure. It comes naturally for you to be warm, loving, and generous in a relationship. You are able to effectively communicate how you feel. This would result in being high in emotional intelligence. You are able to read your partner’s needs and if they do react negatively, you take that in stride knowing that they have love for you and do not fear they will leave. You are present in the relationship.
The importance of discovering and understanding your attachment style is the first step in helping you create healthier relationship choices!
Dr. Kristin Davin can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org