When you believe there’s something creating problems for you with your relationships, you might want to educate yourself on attachment styles. The suggestion is these have a significant impact on love in our lives.
Of course, you’ll find scientific reasoning or literature explaining the concept as with anything that sounds like there should be a “study” behind it. With the attachment styles, science indicates the start of these begins in infancy.
Either the child has or doesn’t have “healthy attachments” to their primary caregivers. That means it is possible that basic needs are not being met. These can include nurturing, affection, or comfort. Because the child doesn’t receive adequate emotional and physical “attachment,” this will invariably affect the course of partnerships in their adult life.
Small children must receive basic physical and emotional needs on a consistent basis. An infant will cry to alert their primary caregiver that there is a problem, whether it be hunger, a soiled diaper, or illness. If these cries are ignored, there are ill effects subconsciously.
As a rule, most parents will react with an emotional response by picking the child up, speaking to them, holding them, snuggling, and making them feel better.
That’s not always the case. These children are then unable to develop an attachment with the potential for symptomatology like unexplained fear, no interest in games requiring interaction, irritability, withdrawal, lack of smiling, sadness, and no attempts for touch.
The caregiver who ignores needs or meets them with minimal emotion makes that child likely to have relationship issues in their lifetime.
Attachment styles and how your love life might be impacted
Many people might be unaware of the attachment style phenomenon. But science is on top of it, with many studies focused on the attaching or detaching of people from others in their life. These are set into classes as follows:
1. (Attachment style) secure
People with the “secure” attachment style are the most confident within themself. The individuals face no fear when attaching to another person, nor are they afraid when someone wishes to attach to them.
The suggestion is the primary caregivers were loving, nurturing, and attentive providing a dependable, satisfactory response to all basic emotional needs.
Because of this, the child raises up with trust and sees getting emotionally close to others as advantageous for their well-being since it renders them fulfilled.
These kids will have healthy partnerships as adults because of this healthy rearing and a strong development of self-esteem. They feel worthy and deserving of love and are of the belief if one person prefers not to provide it, someone will.
2. (Attachment style) anxious-preoccupied
An individual dealing with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style tends towards neediness when involved in a partnership. Some will hold onto a fear of abandonment. Plus, these people will further fear a partner will have an affair or that they will overall just not genuinely love them, all due to diminished self-esteem.
Again, as the science indicates, these problems arise because of how caregivers interacted with these individuals as children. The parents proved themselves to be untrustworthy and lacked reliability.
This results in a child growing up to believe that other people might not authentically love them. That means they find it necessary to “chase” partners, in many cases becoming needy or clinging to their mate.
A partner will likely grow to feel smothered by this individual either physically or emotionally due to their level of anxiety. Significant others tend to pull away, causing a greater degree of anxiety for the person in this style group.
People comprising this group can create major partnership problems for themselves and their mates. If they end up with someone from the “secure” style group, they will have a greater sense of fear because a secure style won’t be able to relate to their need for consistent attention.
3. (Attachment style) dismissive-avoidant
The dismissive-avoidant is nearly the polar opposite of the anxious-preoccupied. Rather than chasing someone to tie the person down to a relationship, the dismissive-avoidant runs, trying to avoid the attachment, feeling discomfort at the thought of emotional closeness with anyone.
The reason for this behavior is the primary caregiver for the child was lapsed in meeting the emotional needs and not dependable, leading the child and now the adult to believe that people won’t be there when you need them.
That means, in their eyes, there’s a need to self-protect and avoid emotional attachments to remain safe from potential hurt.
If you attempted to blend a partnership between an anxious-preoccupied (chaser) and a dismissive-avoidant (runner), it would be disastrous. The chaser would strive for affection, attention, and love while the other would run from those things. The dynamic would be awful.
Dismissive-avoidants would not mesh well with secure styles either since the confident person wouldn’t understand someone’s attempting to avoid intimacy since the secure person revels in it. The dismissive-avoidant will have significant partnership problems later in their life.
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Reactive attachment disorder: the most extreme type
Someone severely neglected as a child by a primary caregiver will see an extreme attachment disorder referenced as “Reactive Attachment Disorder.” The effects into adulthood have the potential to be significant when looking in the long term.
RAD disallows individuals from experiencing relationships completely because these people have a negative sense of self with the possibility that their mental wellness is compromised. Their thought process, along with their behavior and feelings or emotions, are dysfunctional.
The negative emotions RAD adults contend with means they face difficulties adjusting in varied areas of life, not only with their love life.
The disorder can result in diminished self-esteem along with a lack of belief in themself or their opportunity for a good life, especially if these individuals have received no counseling or therapy for the disorder. How do you know if you’re struggling with this? Signs and symptoms include:
- Lacking in remorse
- Lacking empathy
- Issues with control
- Avoid physical intimacy
- Incapacity for showing affection
- Self-disclosure/sharing reluctance
- Lacking a sense of belonging
- Lacking emotional support
- Diminished emotional investment
- Inability to receive/give love but craves it
- Withdrawals from social circle
- Doesn’t understand emotions
- Anger issues
- Sense of emptiness/loneliness
- Unable to develop or maintain any sort of relationship
Just because you might suffer from the disorder doesn’t mean things are hopeless. It is possible to improve with the treatment of RAD. While the symptoms can create stress, you shouldn’t give up.
Tips for helping to better your attachment style
Once learning the attachment style theories, many people will find these to be a contributor to problems in their partnership. Simply because something affected you from childhood doesn’t mean it has to permanently debilitate your life.
You can take steps to improve and control the problem to avoid the symptom rearing their heads while you’re with someone. Once you’re aware, you’re in a much better position.
1. Take it one small step at a time
You won’t be able to change overnight. Your life has revolved around how you developed and the interactions you experienced from infancy. Those habits will be something you need to work on slowly and gradually to undo.
The priority is to carry patience for yourself and stay attuned to your emotions and feelings along with the behavior you’re displaying all the time. That will be how you’ll begin to change it because you’ll be vastly aware.
2. Communication is key with a new partner
Once you become comfortable with a date after some time together, it’s a good idea to discuss the topic of attachment style. It’s a relatively deep conversation, so you’ll want to wait until you are familiar and believe things are progressing.
It doesn’t require a great deal of detail, just an acknowledgment of symptoms and how these, if displayed, are not a reflection of them, merely a life-long struggle that you’re working through bit by bit.
The partner should avoid taking it personally. And ask the mate if they’re familiar with their own attachment style.
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3. Reach out for counseling
You can’t solve every emotional issue on your own. Seeing a counselor is not a sign of weakness; it’s more a display of strength. The professional can offer tools to guide you through the process where you might not otherwise have known how to cope.
You could very well have an attachment style creating problems in your love life. When you find out that’s the issue, instead of being surprised at the revelation and going on about your day, do something about it. Reach out for some therapy to set your thought process in a more healthy frame.
These attachment issues can be overcome, but only if you want to improve yourself so you can experience a healthier relationship pattern.
You’ll be happy you put in the work, especially if you’re dealing with the more severe situation of RAD. Neglect, especially to the extreme, can do significant damage that needs addressing.
If you don’t know that’s the problem but come to the realization after studying attachment styles, it’s not too late to get help. It can be improved with treatment no matter your life stage. Reach out.