How to deal with different attachment styles?

Emotionally Attached?

Our experiences as a child leaves a deep impact on our personality. The way we interact with our parents, caregivers and other people around us in childhood has a significant influence on the way we navigate our relationships in adult life. Attachment is an emotional bond an infant forms with its mother or caregiver which keeps developing throughout childhood. That is why it’s important to identify our attachment styles because it helps us recognise our strengths and vulnerabilities in a relationship. The different types of attachment styles are:

Secure attachment

As a child if we have had a relationship with our parents wherein our physical, mental and emotional needs were met and we were made to feel safe and secure and have experienced care, concern and compassion from our parents and other significant adults in the family we often grow up to be secure, independent adults who can explore, venture out and look after themselves. We form a similar relationship with our significant other in our adult life based on trust, liberty and equality. We seek comfort with each other and have an open, loving relationship while also giving each other space to grow individually.

Dismissive avoidant attachment

Some parents are insensitive, ignorant or not responsive to their child’s needs and do not express love and appreciation towards the child. When the child has such parents, he or she becomes distant and feels the need to do everything on their own and not be dependent on anyone else for anything. They become miniature adults themselves. As adults, they are emotionally distant from their partners and are not comfortable expressing their emotions because of the fear of coming across as vulnerable and weak. They like to project themselves as cold, detached and not easily ruffled by anything. They prefer to be isolated than have a confrontation with their partner. They seek strength from being self reliant and independent.

Anxious preoccupied attachment

If a child is exposed to inconsistent parenting, where sometimes the parents are attuned to the child’s needs and respond in an appropriate way and sometimes are ignorant and insensitive, it leaves the child confused and insecure because he or she doesn’t know what to expect and how to respond to such behaviour.

This leads the child to be preoccupied with feelings of anxiety, unworthiness, inferiority complex and self doubt. This also continues to stem into their adult life and significantly influence romantic relationships. Individuals with this type of attachment tend to seek continuous validation and reassurance from their partners. If they feel that their partner is not responding to them as they would like them to, they often become too clingy, demanding and possessive and feel a need to constantly be assured that their partners are loyal and supportive towards them.

Fearful avoidant attachment

People with fearful avoidant attachment have characteristics of both anxious preoccupied attachment and dismissive avoidant attachment. They battle feelings of distrust, unworthiness and anxiety. They are extremely conscious and fear being judged and disliked by others.

As adults, these individuals often tend to find themselves in a battle between the desire to experience the love, affection and be popular among others and also wanting to be left alone. In a similar vein, even in romantic relationships they crave for the closeness and intimacy but then experience extreme discomfort when they get too close to their partners and inhibit themselves.They often have fears of being abandoned and may cling to their partner when they feel rejected or unappreciated and sometimes lack confidence in their abilities to make a relationship work.

How can you not let your attachment styles affect your relationships?

Now that we have a basic understanding about attachment styles, let us look at how we can use it to enhance our relationships and not let it affect our love life.

Identify your attachment style

You can only make sense of your pattern of behaviour in relationships when you are able to identify your attachment style.  You have various resources at your disposal such as books, journals and the blogs and articles on the internet to do so. Once you have knowledge of your and your partner’s attachment style, you could perceive your relationship in a new light by allowing you to find the root cause of the problem.You can resolve whatever issues and conflicts you have by understanding and building an open communication in your relationship.

Seek out a partner with secure attachment style:

If you have a partner who has secure attachment, it not only makes your relationship pleasant and enriching but also takes off the pressure from you to constantly having to deal with your partner’s insecurities. Research suggests that having positive experiences with someone who is secure and comfortable being who they are will in time, even override your insecure impulses.

Positive self talk

We indulge in a lot of mental chatter throughout the day and unfortunately for most of us the internal dialogue is negative.Psychologists say that negative self talk can completely drain you out and affect your sense of self in a negative way, whereas positive self talk will not only boost your self esteem and confidence but also let’s go of your need to compare with other people and aids you in becoming the best version of yourself.

Squash the negative self talk. Listen to the way you are talking to yourself. Ask yourself if you would talk in the same way with someone you love. If the answer is no, why would you not extend the same courtesy and understanding towards yourself.

Become self aware

Be aware of the way you think, feel and behave. Be kind towards yourself even when you don’t live up to your expectations or encounter failure as it gives us the strength to face our fears, both real and imagined. Let go of the strive for perfection.

Practice Self-Care

Sometimes people, places, and situations affect us much more because we are really drained or exhausted. Lack of self-care really makes us moody, grumpy, and resentful. So make sure you are well rested, are eating healthy, exercising and take a break from time to time. Other ways to refuel, de-stress, and centre yourself are: prayer, meditation, positive affirmations, doing fun things, getting a massage, or pampering yourself.

Seek support

It is always a good idea to seek professional help. Going to therapy is a sign of strength, it means that you are ready to face your problems head on. It can be effective because something as simple as explaining the situation to someone who is neutral can lead to a new perspective because sometimes other people can see a solution that you can’t as they are not as emotionally invested in the situation and can look at it in an objective way.

Give each other space in a relationship

In dismissive avoidant attachment, an individual might feel suffocated or further distance themselves if they feel that their personal space is being intruded.

Whereas, in anxious preoccupied and fearful avoidant attachment, a person might get too clingy and become completely dependent on their partner if they feel that their emotional needs are not being met in a relationship. This might sabotage the relationship and can cause a drift between the partners. So, in all of these attachment styles it’s very important to give each other adequate space and freedom  so that each of the partners can have their  independence and time to pursue what interests them and have their own individuality which leads to a healthy and enriching relationship.

Create intimacy

Intimacy is a fundamental component of a thriving relationship. However, just to be clear intimacy is more than just sex. It’s about connecting with each other at a deep emotional level. You can develop intimacy in a relationship by little acts like spending time talking with your partner at night before going to bed, cuddling with each other, having a romantic dinner date without any interruptions. It’s moments like these that add to the richness of the relationship and keep it going.

Resolve your conflicts before going to bed

Avoid going to bed with unresolved anger because if you don’t talk about what’s bothering you, the anger and resentment keeps piling up inside you and will suddenly burst out of you in intensifying amounts at an inappropriate time. So it is better to talk about your issues with your partner and try to resolve them as much as possible.

Support your partner

When you put your sincere efforts to celebrate your partner’s success, it will bring genuine happiness to your partner. This unconditional support along with words of encouragement will create a positive and congenial atmosphere and show your partner that their success is as important to you as it is to him or her.

Respect your and your partner’s wishes and preferences

You and your partner might have different preferences and perspectives at looking at things, so,do not try to impose your desires and beliefs on them. Accept the fact that you will have some similar interests and in some areas you would not and that’s ok. Look at your partner as his own person having their own unique experiences and continuously evolving in this journey called life.