Maybe you have heard that the way your parents/ caregiver relate to you and treated you influences the types of relationships you have in the future. This is great news if you had attentive, loving, nurturing parents, but what happens if they missed the mark? Growing up in a home with domestic violence or abuse of any kind, constant criticisms, or absent parents can have a profound effect on our attachment styles.
Attachment has to do with the way we relate and connect with others. We can adopt similar attachment styles to our parents or we can develop attachment styles as a way to survive growing up. For instance, if you had a father that was mostly absent, you may be more avoidant in relationships. On the other hand, you may be anxiously attached and find yourself with partner who is chronically absent or avoidant. If you grew up in a home where you were abused, you may learn to do everything in their power to make others happy and reduce the chance of being abused or upsetting anyone. This is known as fawning (see my previous post about fawning https://www.amygrovenlmft.com/post/fawning-as-a-trauma-response).
There are various combinations of attachment styles that can happen such as an anxious-avoidant or disorganized, but in a nutshell there are 3 main types of attachment styles.
Secure attachment: People with a secure attachment style have no problems giving reassurance to others that they want to be in the relationship, and are also good with giving others space. They can hold their own boundaries and can assess and adjust the flexibility of those boundaries appropriately.
Anxious attachment: People with an anxious attachment style may be people pleasers, and need reassurance that they are liked and accepted. People with anxious attachment styles sometimes have boundaries that are too permissive or porous. They tend to pursue others for bids for attention and love, some times coming on too strongly.
Avoidant attachment: People with avoidant attachment tend to want space in relationships and tend to distant themselves from others when the relationships start to get close. Boundaries tend to be very rigid and they don’t let anyone get too close.
As you can imagine, the combination of incompatible attachment styles from each partner in a relationship can cause various issues. We can see our attachment styles also affecting our work relationships, friendships, as well as romantic and familial relationship. There are several questionnaires on the internet you can use to find out your dominant attachment style ( I like this one https://www.attachedthebook.com/wordpress/compatibility-quiz/).
If you find yourself having a main attachment style of anxious or avoidant or some combination of them and you feel like you are doomed to be this way forever, I have good news for you. It is possible to gain that secure attachment style.
Earned secure attachment is a type of attachment style that is characterized by individuals who have a healthy balance of attachment and autonomy. This attachment style is developed in adulthood and is often the result of overcoming past relational traumas or difficulties. People with an earned secure attachment have a sense of security in themselves and their relationships. They are able to trust others, communicate effectively, and form healthy connections. They are also able to maintain a sense of independence and self-sufficiency while still relying on others for support when needed.
So, how can one obtain an earned secure attachment?
1. Reflect on past relationships: It is important to reflect on past relationships and identify any patterns or behaviors that may have contributed to unhealthy attachment styles. This reflection can help individuals understand their own needs and how to communicate them effectively in relationships.
2. Seek professional help: Therapy can be a powerful tool in developing a secure attachment style. A trained therapist can help individuals explore their past experiences and develop healthier relationship patterns.
3. Practice self-care: Self-care is essential in developing a secure attachment style. This includes taking care of physical, emotional, and mental health needs. Regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and engaging in activities that bring joy can all contribute to a sense of well-being.
4. Practice vulnerability: Vulnerability is an essential component of developing a secure attachment style. This means being open and honest about one's feelings and needs in relationships. It also means being willing to listen to and validate the feelings of others.
5. Develop healthy communication skills: Effective communication is key in developing a
secure attachment style. This means being able to express one's needs and emotions clearly and respectfully. It also means being able to listen actively and empathetically to others.
Developing an earned secure attachment style is a process that requires self-reflection, vulnerability, and healthy relationship practices. Seeking professional help, practicing self-care, and developing healthy communication skills can all contribute to developing a secure attachment style that leads to healthier and more fulfilling relationships.
If you feel you need help to develop a secure attachment style, reach out to Amy Groven, LMFT for an appointment: email@example.com