Our attachment styles are typically developed during childhood. Secure attachment is classified by children who show some distress when their caregiver leaves but are able to compose themselves knowing that their caregiver will return. Children with secure attachment feel protected by their caregivers, and they know that they can depend on them to return
Knowing our partners are emotionally available through their consistent actions can help us build a more secure attachment style. It helps us have a positive expectation in our mind and in our nervous system about their (willingness) to be there for us.
That, ironically, can create more freedom in our relationship.
Here are 4 attachment styles
Secure attachment style
Secure: People with secure attachments feel okay being in a relationship and okay being alone, though they generally choose to be in a relationship. They like needing someone else, as well as being needed themselves. Securely attached people find ways to be independent in their relationship while still maintaining a strong sense of intimacy, they’re generally trusting and relaxed about the connection they’ve built/are building with someone. Lastly, people with secure attachments hold a strong image of their partner and of themselves.
A secure relationship (of any kind) can immensely help create healing and recognition of our current mindset. It can aid in building new patterns for us to become more receptive to becoming and choosing more loving and available partners.
When we meet someone available for our emotional needs it can feel scary and unsettling if it isnt what were use to. We may do EVERYTHING in our power to try and shove them into what our old mindset can tolerate. Pick their flaws, interpret and judge their actions wrongly.
Understanding what your particular attachment style is can be an incredibly useful self-awareness tool. Attachment styles can change (with concentrated effort) so if you’re starting to see that you have a default attachment style that you don’t like, you can begin to work on changing it.
Insecure attachment styles
Anxious/Preoccupied: People with anxious attachments think highly of their partner/prospective partner, but base a large part of their own self-worth on whether or not they’re getting approval, attention and responsiveness from their partner. This attachment style is associated with being ‘too clingy’ and feeling like you’re always the one to initiate conversations about where the relationship is going, how you’re both feeling, etc. When faced with rejection, this attachment style typically runs toward the source of rejection like a moth to a flame.
Dismissive/Avoidant: People with this attachment style think highly of themselves and often express a high desire for independence. They might downplay the value of romantic connections and view people who express a need for romantic companionship as insecure or not self-sufficient. When faced with rejection, they distance themselves almost immediately from the source of the rejection.
Fearful/Avoidant: This group both wants and doesn’t want a close romantic connection. Fearful/avoidant attachments are marked by a strong desire for a lasting, loving partnership as well as a deep distrust of partners or relationships in general. This extends to all aspects of the connection – they think their partner is great one week, then they think their partner is deeply flawed the next. They think highly of themselves one week, then they think they don’t deserve a quality relationship the next. Since the strong mix of fear of intimacy and desire for intimacy can be so overwhelming, this group tends to avoid romantic relationships and/or experience significant and consistent distress while in relationships.
When we have an avoidant (more distant) or insecure (more sensitive) attachment style, we tend to have difficulty relying on another person or having someone rely on us. When we haven’t had many safe and secure experiences in our life, we can go on pretending that we don’t need much.
We might even unknowingly engage in behaviors that push people away rather than face our natural human longing for connection.
Those who have a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style grew up with parents who were often neglectful of their primary needs.
When a child’s primary needs become neglected enough times, a child begins to self-soothe and self-regulate.
They no longer make attempts to “reach” for their caregiver .. as they have learned that those attempts would likely get ignored or dismissed.
As adults, they rely on themselves and often have an inflated “sense of self” to cover up their deep fears of aloneness.
Dismissive avoidant folk can also be extremely career-focused.
They can often minimize the importance of close relationships and dismiss their partners needs.
And that makes complete sense .. especially because they never experienced a healthy version of intimacy and comfort from someone.
They might unconsciously do things to (create distance) as a way of protecting themselves.
They might hyper-focus on their partners “flaws” which prevents them from having to look inward and face their own painful feelings.
The first step in healing this attachment wound is by being willing to acknowledge the deep pain and neglect that lives within them.
And that is no doubt the (hardest) thing to do.
Even if they learn to acknowledge that pain to themselves, learning to expose that vulnerable part to others can feel terrifying.
For my dismissive avoidants, healing this attachment wound will not be easy.
It will require your willingness to feel a lot of suppressed feelings.
So please start slowly.
It will require you to get underneath your protective armour and reveal your humanity to yourself, and then to others.
Reveal it to those who have earned your trust and who do not shame you for your pain.
But do gently reveal them.
It will require you to compromise and learn to include others in your life and in your decisions.
I know you are so used to do things all by yourself.
And you are probably really good at that.
But there will be some amazing souls in your life that will be so worth your compromises.
I believe in you <3
Those who have a Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style (also sometimes known as Disorganized Attachment), grew up with a caregiver who was threatening or unable to care for them in appropriate ways.
This attachment style is often linked with the caregiver being intrusive, abusive, or neglectful.
The caregiver may have even “used” the child for comfort which is a complete role reversal for the child .. and can later cause a deep sense of confusion and emotional dis-regulation.
Fearful Avoidants likely had more connection and access to their caregivers than Dismissive Avoidants, but it often came at the heavy cost of themselves.
As adults, Fearful Avoidants have a combination of anxious and avoidant tendencies.
They crave and long for closeness .. but they experience a high level of anxiety when they begin to depend on someone.
They often feel “used or betrayed by others” because their old memories of childhood begin to resurface in relationships.
Whereas the Dismissive Avoidant has an elated sense of self, the Fearful Avoidant has a low self-esteem and struggles to feel worthy of receiving support.
They tend to prematurely (pull away) from relationships due to their fears of rejection and deep feelings of anxiety.
The first step in healing this attachment wound (just like all the other insecure attachments) is to be willing to work through and feel through the pain.
It’s by being willing to give yourself permission to acknowledge all the ways you were abused, were neglected, or felt deeply unsafe to rely on those you loved.
You work is to begin holding firmer boundaries .. as you have a tendency to “lose yourself” quickly in intimate relationships and can fall into codependent behaviors.
Allow yourself to notice and receive from those who genuinely want to give to you in small doses.
Learn to discern between reciprocal and mutual love vs. those who only want to take from you.
You deserve to be loved.
You deserve to have empathy for your story.
You deserve to write a new story of healthy and loving relationships as you gently heal and work through the pain of the first one.
Those who have an Anxious Attachment Style grew up with caregivers who were (inconsistent) in their emotional availability.
Sometimes they were deeply attuned and available, and other times they were neglectful or attuned in ways that were invasive to the baby.
When a child’s primary needs are not responded to in appropriate or consistent ways, a child becomes deeply confused.
They will still make attempts to “reach” for their caregiver not knowing if the comfort will actually ever come.
As adults, they are highly sensitive to anything that might lead to loss of connection.
They have (activating) strategies that turn on when they sense a (perceived threat) and can act out in unhealthy ways to try and regain connection.
They can often overlook red flags and put others on an unrealistic pedestal.
They care deeply about staying close and often feel an insatiable longing for connection.
And that makes complete sense.
Not knowing if love and connection will come from their main source is a terrifying and deeply disorienting experience.
The first step in healing this attachment wound is by being willing to acknowledge the deep anger and confusion that lives within them.
That ability to validate and not abandon their own experience is what will help them become more discerning and present with others.
For my anxious folk, healing this attachment wound will not be easy.
It will require your willingness to feel loss of connection sometimes.
But you will soon realize that momentarily loss of connection does not always mean the loss of the relationship.
It will require you to be more mindful of choosing safer partners that clearly show their desire to care and comfort you.
They might feel boring at first, but your nervous system can slowly learn to become attracted to those who bring you peace.
It will require you to slow down and only share little bits of yourself at a time.
You will begin to see the difference between those who want to meet you in vulnerability .. versus those who continuously keep you at arms length.
I am sending you so much courage
on this journey <3