The Attachment Styles

Have you ever wondered what your attachment style is? Wonder why you struggle to maintain boundaries with people in relationships or friendships? Do you find it difficult to trust people around you even though they are trustworthy and assure you that they love and care for you? Do you try to run away from people who try to get to know you better? Do you constantly feel the need for your friends or partner to assure you that they will not leave? Do you sometimes wonder why you always struggle in interpersonal relationships?

Attachment is the strong emotional and physical bond between infants and their caregivers. This attachment is popularly known as “the beginnings of love” because it is the first form of love we experience towards our caretaker, the mother or father, during infancy and childhood.

Some research findings suggest that the differences in attachment style in infancy may have strong effects on different relationships and friendships that develop in adult life. The attachment that an individual develops during infancy will have a long-lasting effect in adult life. Our early attachment styles enable us to form ideas about relationships, which impact every aspect of  relationships. For example, a person who develops a secure attachment style will have a good understanding of relationships; they will not find it hard to trust their partner, whereas a person with an avoidant insecure attachment style will always be on the run from people who try to get too close to them. There are four attachment styles.

Secure Attachment

The child is secure with the parents and actively seeks interaction and connection with the caregiver. Parents are highly responsive to their children’s physical and emotional needs. The child feels safe, comforted, significant, and emotionally secure. Children who grow up securely attached have greater trust and easily connect with people around them; they are more sociable.

Signs for securely attached
  • Regulate emotions in healthy ways.
  • Trusting others
  • Effective communication skills (listening and speaking)
  • Maintain healthy boundaries with everyone.
  • Have a positive self-image.
  • Comfortable in close relationships
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Jealousy is not an issue for them.
  • They believe that they are worthy of love.
  • They don’t look for validation or reassurance.
Insecure Attachment

Insecurely attached people have problems to form relationship with others and tend to mistrust others. This is because of the insecure attachment with their parents during childhood. There are three types of insecure attachments.

  • Insecure /Ambivalent Attachment
  • Insecure / Avoidant  Attachment
  • Insecure / Disorganized Attachment
Insecure / Ambivalent

Children have insecure relationship with their caregiver. The children are exposed to two extremes of being overly coddled and detached which confuses the child and they are overwhelmed in both the extremes. When the parents responsiveness towards the child is unpredictable can lead to ambivalent insecure attachment.

Signs for ambivalent/insecurely attached
  • Fear of rejection
  • Attention seeking behaviour
  • Clingy
  • Proiritize other needs
  • Emotionally unstable
  • Feeling unworthy of love
  • Jealous
  • Uncomfortable to be alone
  • Have hard time trusting other
  • Need constant validation and assurance from others
  • Low self-image
Insecure/ Avoidant

Children who failed to build connections with their caretakers because of rejection and neglect. During childhood, their physical and emotional needs are unmet by their parents. Parents responsiveness towards the child is to simply ignore the child’s needs. Children are encouraged by their parents to be independent or neglected, they are even punished when they try to depend on their caregiver. These experiences lead the children to fear and avoid showing their feelings, which makes them emotionally distant from everyone.

Signs for avoidant  insecurely attached
  • Consistently avoid emotional and physical intimacy.
  • Struggle to trust others.
  • Feel anxious and threatened if anyone tries to get close.
  • Have problems entering into relationships and close friendships
  • Prefer to be on their own than with others.
  • Have a negative self-image.
  • Can seem uninterested in social relationships
Insecure/Disorganized Attachment

Disorganized attachment styles are a direct result of childhood abuse or trauma. For example, if the caregiver verbally or physically abuses the child, they will no longer trust their caregiver. The disorganized attachment is developed when the parents treat their child poorly; this makes them fearful, confused about what to expect from their parents, and their needs are unmet. The individual reach a state where they want closeness but at the same time reject and distance themselves because of the fear of past experiences.

Signs of disorganized/insecurely attached
  • Struggle to trust others.
  • Lack empathy
  • Terrified of closeness
  • Fear of abuse and rejection in relationships or friendships
  • Inability to regulate their emotions
  • Contradictory behaviour
  • High-level anxiety
  • They are more prone to mental health issues.
  • Signs of both avoidant and anxious attachment styles could also be seen.
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