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How Our Attachment Style Affects Our Relationships

Attachment is the emotional and psychological bond that we form with our caregivers when we are young. Attachment serves to help us to receive the care and support we need and wires our brain for optimizing our survival. The way that we attach in infancy will, in great part, be the blueprint for the relationships we will have in the future. Our attachment style will set in motion our thoughts and behaviors as we choose partners who mirror the characteristics of our early care givers.

Our attachment style is so deeply embedded in our brain that many times we will think that our actions and reactions are part of our personality or a link to a certain “type” we are attracted to. Understanding our personal attachment style and what its traits are can help us to choose better relationships and thrive in them.

The four types of Attachment Style

Secure Attachment Style

Secure attachment style is the most common attachment style, found in a little over half of the population of the United States. It's based on a feeling of trust and security, so people with this style are typically comfortable with intimacy and vulnerability. Securely attached individuals enjoy closeness with others but also know when to set clear boundaries. They are well-rounded in their interactions which is helpful in maintaining healthy relationships.

People with this attachment style tend to choose partners who suit them and their needs in relationships--both in terms of personality traits as well as life goals or future plans (e.g., wanting children, work-life balance). They know when to leave someone who is no longer good for them.

Dismissive/Avoidant Attachment

The dismissive/avoidant attachment style, characterized by a desire to avoid intimacy, can make finding and maintaining long lasting relationships difficult. People with this attachment style tend to be independent and self-reliant. They are often described as cold, aloof and uninterested in forming close relationships. Those with an avoidant attachment style may find themselves with partners who are uninvolved or emotionally unavailable, as these are qualities they may possess themselves and help them to keep a distance between them.

Preoccupied/Anxious Attachment

The preoccupied/anxious attachment style is associated with a greater level of stress for the individual. This attachment style tends to be clingy, jealous and sometimes obsessive when in relationships. They're less likely to let go when things aren't going well in their partnerships even when they are conscious that it is unhealthy for them. They experience distress when their partners leave them, even for short periods of time. They may struggle with anxiety disorders and ADHD and tend to be self-critical and seek validation from others.

Disorganized Attachment

Those with disorganized attachment style are likely to have both a negative view of others and of themselves. They will have a combination of high anxiety and avoidance making it difficult to let others in for fear of closeness and of abandonment. They have a difficult time understanding and communicating their needs. They tend to switch between anxious and avoidant-driven behaviors. they may be clingy and demanding one minute and dismissive or rejecting the next.

Attachment Styles Affect Our Ability to Choose a Partner

Your attachment style can affect your choice of partner and the quality of your relationship with them. Because our attachment style has a significant impact on our romantic relationships, it is helpful to explore this topic so that you can make better decisions and feel more powerful in your behaviors and reactions.

If you are finding relationships difficult, take a break for dating and evaluate the patterns in your past relationships. Ask yourself what you need in order to feel loved and secure. Learn how to communicate these needs openly so that others may understand you better. The practice of reparenting, typically done through hypnosis or with a therapist, is an effective technique to help you rewire your brain for a more secure and happy future.

Alongside reparenting, practicing compassion and forgiveness, for yourself, your parents, and your past relationships can change the way you relate to others and help you build a brighter future. Like with everything else, you get out of it what you put into it, so give yourself the love and attention you deserve.


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