What’s attachment theory?
Developed in the 1930s by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, attachment theory explains how we form relationships with others. Your relationship with your parents, or your primary caregiver, affects your relationship with others, with yourself, and with the world in general.
Relationships are complicated, and many of us have a hard time managing them. But, understanding our attachment style can help us better understand closeness, communicating with others, and how to best deal with conflict.
Types of attachment
There are four primary styles of attachment: anxious, avoidant, disorganized, and secure.
Anxious – Preoccupied Attachment
People with an anxious attachment style may want to be near others but may feel the need to keep people at a safe distance. They may be worried about abandonment but be unable to express their feelings about this concern. As children, their caregivers may have been inconsistent or unavailable.
Avoidant – Dismissive Attachment
Individuals who are avoidantly attached can find it difficult to form relationships with others. They may have a hard time making the emotional investment needed for connections out of fear of their needs not being met. As children, They may have had a caregiver who was emotionally distant to them.
Disorganized – Unresolved Attachment
People who have the disorganized attachment style may feel like they are stuck in a never-ending metronome of needs. Sometimes they may feel as if they are bouncing between the need to belong and the need to survive. Forming relationships may be difficult for them, and they may have a low self-image. During their childhood, they may have experienced trauma or abuse from a parent or caregiver. As a result of this trauma, the child may feel they are incapable of feeling safety or love from their caretaker, and rather, fear them instead
Securely attached individuals have stable and long-term relationships. Their self-esteem is generally high and they are comfortable getting close to others. As children, their parents most likely nurtured them emotionally and ensured that all of their needs were met.
Impacts of Attachment
Our attachment style influences us in many ways. As these attachment styles are complex, learning to understand how your attachment style impacts your relationships can be a big help in increasing intimate and supportive connections with others. If you or someone you know is struggling with maintaining and keeping relationships, we have an attachment style series that discusses how you can develop a more secure attachment style!