Understanding Secure Attachment Style in Relationships
You may have heard the term "attachment styles" banded about recently, but did you know they play a significant role in relationships?
Your attachment style influences how you connect with your partner and shapes your behaviour within a relationship. In fact, it can have a profound impact on the overall success of your love life- so you better get up to date.
Attachment styles typically stem from our early childhood experiences (doesn't everything?), specifically our relationships with primary caregivers such as parents or guardians. These relationships give us support, protection, and care, while also teaching us how to manage our emotions based on how they interact with us. So basically these early experiences will continue to shape our adult relationships and that's why you need to pay attention to them.
So, let's take a look at what having a secure attachment style really means and why it is considered the ideal attachment style in relationships.
What are Attachment Styles?
Before we get started exploring the secure attachment style, it's essential to grasp the concept of attachment styles in general. Let's do that now.
While attachment styles have a significant impact on adult relationships, they actually form during early childhood through our interactions with primary caregivers. According to our Founder Stacy Thomson, a Mental Health Practitioner and Relationship Expert, these attachments develop because our caregivers provide us with the emotional and physical support we need. They help us express a full range of emotions and create a sense of consistency and dependability, allowing us to feel secure and reassured.
A Secure Attachment Style Explained
Having a secure attachment style is widely regarded as the ideal when it comes to attachment in relationships. It means having a strong emotional bond with your partner without exhibiting insecure behaviors such as jealousy or possessiveness. In a secure attachment, you and your partner can spend time together as well as pursue individual interests without feeling threatened or anxious.
It's important to note that having a secure attachment style doesn't imply a perfect relationship. Like any other relationship, there will still be ups and downs. However, what sets a secure attachment style apart is the ability to handle difficulties in a healthier way.
Stacy explains that securely attached adults are better equipped to regulate their emotions, making it easier to manage sadness and upset in a balanced manner. While challenges may arise, those with a secure attachment style have a higher likelihood of withstanding and resolving them.
The Origins of a Secure Attachment Style
Similar to other attachment styles, a secure attachment style develops as a result of our relationship with our parents or primary caregivers during early childhood. In the case of secure attachment, our parents or caregivers were emotionally and physically present throughout our upbringing. They attended to our needs, allowing us to express a wide range of emotions.
Consistency and dependability were key factors in fostering a secure attachment. The unwavering presence of our parents created a sense of reliability, assuring us that they would always be there for us. However, it's important to remember that having a secure attachment style doesn't necessarily mean our relationship with our parents was flawless. It simply means that we have the ability to bounce back quickly from any issues that may have arisen.
Choosing a Partner Based on Attachment Style
Understanding your own attachment style provides valuable insights into the kind of partner who may be compatible with you. Here are three combinations of attachment styles for a secure individual and how relationships with each type might unfold:
Secure + Secure: This is considered the holy grail of attachment-style combos. When both partners have a secure attachment style, they can explore and deepen their connection without fear of rejection or the feeling of being too close. It's the dream scenario!
Secure + Anxious: A secure and anxious attachment combination can work well, although it may benefit the anxious partner more than the secure partner. The secure partner can provide the security and reassurance the anxious partner needs, but maintaining this long-term may pose challenges. The anxious partner's neediness might become overwhelming for the secure partner, who may struggle with being placed on a pedestal.
Secure + Avoidant: Similarly, in a relationship with an avoidant partner, a secure individual may initially handle the distance their partner requires. However, over time, the increasing gap between their needs may become too difficult to bridge. The avoidant partner may struggle to offer the attention, affection, and closeness that the secure partner desires, leading to relationship difficulties if both partners' needs aren't met.
Remember, attachment styles serve as a general guide and reflect how we typically approach relationships. It's crucial to recognise that individuals can grow and adapt, and attachment styles are not fixed boxes.
Improving Your Attachment Style
Having a secure attachment style is widely considered the healthiest attachment style. If you already identify with having a secure attachment style, many resources and pieces of advice on the subject may not be directly aimed at you. However, there are still ways to enhance your attachment style.
Stacy suggests that those without secure attachment styles often seek partners to fulfil emotional needs they struggle to meet themselves. In such cases, it can be helpful to focus on fulfilling your own needs independently, reducing reliance on a partner to meet them.
For instance, if you tend to have an avoidant style, you might benefit from learning how to open up and allow others into your life. On the other hand, if you lean toward an anxious attachment style, working on self-esteem and developing confidence in your ability to cope independently can be valuable. It's also crucial to identify and interrupt any negative patterns in your behavior that you wish to change.
If you're interested in delving deeper into attachment theory, there are numerous books written by psychologists and relationship experts available.
"Attached: Are You Anxious, Avoidant or Secure?" by Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller is a popular bestseller that introduced attachment theory to a broader audience.
"Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy" is another noteworthy read, particularly aimed at individuals in polyamorous or non-monogamous relationships.
Remember, understanding your attachment style empowers you to build more satisfying relationships and make informed choices in your dating life. It's a journey of growth and self-discovery that can lead to stronger connections with others.