Why Attachment Style Might Be The Deciding Factor In Relationship Success
When it comes to love, many of us believe (and hope!) that we can find someone who shares our interests and preferences as we scroll through endless online dating profiles, but have you heard about possibly the most important factor to consider? Recent research suggests that the key to a successful relationship lies in a different factor: our attachment styles (which is why we built REDDI, more on that later). However, despite this, it seems that only a minority truly understand how attachment styles affect us.
So, let's take a few minutes to reflect on the ins and outs and hopefully give you a better understanding.
What is Attachment theory?
Attachment theory, first proposed by Dr. John Bowlby in the 1950s, offers a framework for understanding how early interactions between caregivers and children shape our adult relationships.
Our attachment style reflects our experiences with our caregivers during childhood. If we have a secure attachment style, we tend to be relaxed and at ease in relationships. Those with an avoidant style often pull away from intimacy due to underlying fears, while individuals with an anxious style crave constant closeness and reassurance from their partners.
Why should I care about attachment styles, how does it improve our relationship patterns?
Especially while using dating apps, we use can use our understanding of attachment styles to improve our relationship patterns. We can also use it to avoid dating people who disappear after a few dates, we learn to accept our anxiety and find someone who reassures us - understanding attachment styles is key.
Here's what the founder of REDDI - Stacy Thomson says about attachment styles.
"It simply boils down to 'secure' and 'insecure'. The latter is not necessarily bad, but it can present some challenges."
First, educate yourself "John Bowlby was the originator of this theory," says Stacy. "His book, 'The Making And Breaking Of Affectional Bonds,' is where it was first explained. You can also easily search for attachment styles online to discover your own or take our free test. It simply boils down to 'secure' and 'insecure'. The latter is not necessarily bad, but it can present some challenges."
She further explains that our early experiences with caregivers have a lasting impact on how we think, behave, and relate to others as adults. Understanding our attachment style is crucial because it serves as a core feature that can almost predict the longevity of a relationship. Attachment is a basic need, like food or water," adds Stacy. "But the way we express that need can differ."
Rethink what you seek in a partner
Firstly, it's important to approach partner selection with thoughtfulness and move beyond superficial attractions or seeking the opposite of our caregivers - which can be challenging for most. "Often, people are drawn to characteristics of their caregivers or go for the opposite," says Stacy.
Dr. Amir Levine, author of "Attached: The New Science Of Adult Attachment," agrees, emphasising that while attraction is necessary, it is not sufficient for long-term relationship satisfaction.
"The most important thing is compatibility with attachment styles," says Levine. "Research on conflict in relationships shows that attachment styles are more important than belief systems. How someone responds in a fight, whether by reassuring or yelling, has nothing to do with political affiliations. These behaviours reflect thousands of interactions that make or break relationships. A bachelor's degree or shared hobbies are irrelevant if someone isn't there for you."
How do attachment styles work together?
Don't worry if you have an avoidant or anxious attachment style, there is no need to despair. You are part of a significant portion of the population. But, understanding these styles is essential for dating success.
"Insecurely attached individuals can still form lasting relationships, although it may require more effort," explains Stacy. "However, the most nourishing and healthy relationships often exist between two people who had secure attachment experiences growing up. They have secure ways of relating to others, trust, and are at ease with themselves. They willingly share their emotional world with others. These are the characteristics of good relationships."
Stacy adds that seeking a secure partner can be beneficial for those with avoidant or anxious styles. "Secure attachment style is like blood type O; they match with everyone. They can sometimes help anxious or avoidant individuals become more secure. They can guide and support you."
"Secure attachment style is like blood type O; they match with everyone. They can sometimes help anxious or avoidant individuals become more secure. They can guide and support you."
However, Levine highlights that certain attachment style combinations are less successful. "The anxious and avoidants don't go well together. One wants distance, while the other is sensitive to it. Avoidants can work well if there's enough interest. The anxious/anxious combination can be problematic, as it lacks an adult presence to calm things down."
But Stacy remains hopeful for anxious and avoidant partnerships flowering from online dating - as she believes many relationships are of this type. "An anxious person may need more reassurance and struggle with worry and fear. Avoidant individuals may have issues with intimacy. However, the push-and-pull dynamics can be a dance to find a happy medium. Many relationships can endure and find balance. One person can be more caring, and the other can learn." The key thing is to recognise and accept that this is a relationship that will be harder than most, and one which will need constant work - if both of you are up for that, then it can work.
Learn to see the signs (questions to ask yourself)
If you're curious about someone's attachment style, Thomson suggests paying attention to their behaviours and interactions.
How do they speak of others?
What's their relationship with their parents?
How do they treat strangers?
Do they have faith that people will return or are they more controlling? How open are they?
Do they freely talk about their feelings? Can you sense their confidence without arrogance?"
Levine adds, "Secure people are consistent in their availability. If you spend a weekend with someone and then don't hear from them, it's a red flag—they may be avoidant and need distance. Anxious individuals may ask a lot of questions if they don't hear from you. They are more easily threatened in a relationship."
Levine offers some quick tips for specific styles. "For avoidant individuals, learn to pace yourself and communicate your need for space. It's the closeness that can be challenging. Respect your biology and your needs."
"For avoidant individuals, learn to pace yourself and communicate your need for space. It's the closeness that can be challenging. Respect your biology and your needs."
Thomson emphasises the importance of personal growth before entering a relationship. "Get to know your style of relating to others and nurture a secure attachment style within yourself. Achieve a level of security, and you will naturally gravitate towards securely attached individuals. Can you handle it if someone doesn't call you back? Can you hold onto it instead of thinking negatively? If you're anxiously attached, can you develop self-soothing abilities?
"Be open, trust people, and take leaps of faith," she advises. "If you're avoidant, welcome intimacy and connection when it's present. Make advances toward greater connection and stay the course during difficult conversations. Share your feelings."
Attachment styles play a significant role in the nature and success of our relationships. By educating ourselves, reevaluating partner selection criteria, understanding the dynamics of attachment styles, recognising signs, and working on personal growth, we can navigate relationships with a deeper understanding and increase our chances of finding lasting happiness.
Want to find love with the only dating app to focus solely on attachment styles to match make you with your ideal partner? Get started on our app here