You’ve heard it. Attachment causes suffering. Cultivating non-attachment towards your belongings or thoughts as the ultimate authority on how things are in the world might be a humbling and refining maturation process. Your attachment style in relationships though – from the kitchen table to the bedroom and the boardroom, has a lot to do with how people perceive you and experience you. It also has to do with what you gravitate toward and what your life ends up being.
Your attachment style develops during childhood and reflects your experience with your primary caretaker(s). Things like early childhood trauma and neglect on one end of the spectrum, and love and connection on the other, play a big role in what attachment style you develop. According to Attachment Theory, there are four characteristics of attachment.
Proximity Maintenance – the desire to be close to people.
Safe Haven – how comfortable you feel returning to the attachment figure for comfort and reassurance when afraid and uncomfortable.
Secure Base – having a base from which to explore and always come back for security and support.
Separation Distress – anxiety experienced when the primary caretaker is not there.
You start by trying to negotiate these four dimensions as early as infancy. If you are raised with confidence, love, care, and encouraged to explore while provided safety, consistency, and support from infancy to early adulthood, you are less likely to be fearful, anxious, insecure. Your expectation of others to be there for you and how they will relate to you depends on how your primary caretakers responded to you and how available they were to you. Future experiences through adulthood will evolve your style, either affirming it or transforming it to some degree, but not too much. If you want to change your attachment style, you will have to work hard, very mindfully, consistently, and methodically to reprogram your instincts.
There are 4 attachment styles.
The Secure Attachment Style
The person feels comfortable forming and maintaining relationships, expressing feelings and needs, and trusting their partners. They are reliable and feel comfortable asking for help. They are dependable and depend on others as needed. Usually, emotionally intelligent, honest, and with healthy self-esteem. They allow others space. Not clingy, but there when you need them. While they thrive in their relationships and do not fear being alone. They don’t require approval and tend to have a generally positive view of others. Bond well and maintain healthy boundaries. They have a high need for achievement and low fear of failure. As children, they felt secure and supported in exploring then returning to their safe haven and secure base. Their primary caretakers were there when needed, loving, encouraging, forgiving, and responsive.
Securely attached individuals have a high concern for others. By adulthood, they’ve built a high level of self-efficacy. They feel comfortable removing problematic, bad-influence people from their lives and do not fear challenging situations.
In a romantic relationship, they show problem-solving skills, communicate well, are mentally flexible, self-reflective, mindful, and emotionally intelligent, and avoid manipulation and drama. They are comfortable with closeness, intimacy, sharing, and easily forgive. They care about their partners, want to be fair, but when they come across someone who does not meet their needs, manipulates, or is the cause of unnecessary emotional turbulence, they will quickly lose interest.
The other three attachment styles (Avoidant-Dismissive, Anxious-Preoccupied, and Fearful-Avoidant) are all insecure and problematic in different ways. Read about them AND what you need to do to develop a more secure attachment style on my blog at vpetrova.com.
Thank you for reading.
Valentina Petrova has helped people with life, health, relationships, financial, and professional goals and challenges since 2015. She has a Master’s in Psychology and is a certified life coach and a certified mediator. You can reach her at valentinapetrovaconsulting.com.