Relationships are simultaneously the most exciting and horrifying adventures we could go on in this world.
Romantic relationships are all about vulnerability in showing another person the deepest and most sacred parts of yourself. It’s often difficult, if not impossible, to leave the past behind as we enter into new relationships.
The past has a funny way of showing itself throughout our lives. Whether our childhood wounds show up in how we ask for or receive love, or in how we relate to our loved ones, the way we were treated as children often affects the way we treat others as adults.
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success in a healthy and loving relationship is to know yourself first. Know what will hurt you, what has hurt you, and, specifically, how you love. One of the best ways to find this out is by exploring both your love language and your attachment style.
What’s an attachment style, you may be asking? Your attachment style simply indicates the way you connect and interact with your partner. As with most psychological phenomena, it often is based on your childhood hurts and pains.
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Dr. Sophie Mort, clinical psychologist and author of A Manual For Being Human, says, “Attachment styles define what you expect other people to do in response to you; how you expect them to treat you and how you stay emotionally safe and connected in your relationship…. Your attachment style often really only affects you in quite intimate or anxiety-provoking scenarios.”
Our attachment styles don’t affect everyone around us, but they can have a huge impact on our relationships. That’s why knowing your attachment style plays a critical role in having a healthy relationship.
Secure Attachment Style
The secure attachment style is the one everyone strives for. These are the people who are mostly secure in themselves and their relationship.
While the people who have a secure attachment style might not have had the ‘perfect’ childhood, their caregivers or parents did meet the majority of their emotional needs. Those with secure attachment styles often were supported when they needed it and never felt as though they were alone in the world growing up.
As they entered the dating scene, they knew their worth and what they needed in order to feel healthy and happy in their relationships. These are the people who don’t constantly need reassurance from their partners or promises of love; they can remember their partner loves them even when that love isn’t made explicit.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who has a secure attachment style, they most likely trust you and love you. While the relationship might not always be perfect, it is healthy and built on mutual trust that both of you have earned.
If you have a secure attachment style, never lose your optimism, but also be careful of trusting some people too much.
Avoidant Attachment Style
Those with avoidant attachment styles often don’t open up to people so that they can avoid getting hurt. These are the people with whom you might have had a relationship for years without feeling as though you really knew them.
Those with avoidant attachment styles often had a childhood in which at least one of their caregivers constantly missed their needs. Their childhood was slightly lonely and they felt as though they had to take care of themselves from an early age.
Growing up in an unstable environment, this person most likely learned that if they told their loved one what they wanted, they would leave or label them too high-maintenance. Their brains have formed a barrier that doesn’t allow them to get too close and vulnerable with another person in order to stay safe.
People who have an avoidant attachment style often don’t get too close to other people and shut down when they feel they’ve opened up too much.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who has an avoidant attachment style, you most likely struggle to know exactly what your partner needs. Ask clear questions in order to gauge what the person wants or needs and let them know that they are safe to share those with you. If you have an avoidant attachment style, stay close to the people who make you feel safe and loved. It’s okay to open up and show people what you really want. Those who are worthy of your love will accept your needs and help you in life.
Anxious Attachment Style
If you’ve ever been labeled as ‘needy’ or ‘clingy’ in a relationship, you might have an anxious attachment style.
Throughout their childhood, those who develop an anxious attachment style often had a caregiver who was inconsistently present. As a child growing up in this unstable environment, they often saw one caregiver sometimes present and 100% attuned to what they needed, then suddenly gone and unreachable. Or worse, the caregiver would reverse the roles and force the child to take care of them.
Being in a relationship with someone with an anxious attachment style can be a bit draining. They want to hold on to you, so they give you all of their energy, emotions, and love. But it can be overwhelming and seem disingenuous.
If you are in a relationship with someone with this style, make sure you’re affirming the relationship and telling them not to worry. If you need to take a step back from them or ask them if their actions are genuine or not, that’s completely valid.
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If you are the person with an anxious attachment style, know that your loved one likely isn’t going to just pack up one day and leave. It’s also okay to ask them for reassurance every now and then, but avoid “love bombing” or attaching too firmly onto them.
Disorganized Attachment Style
If you relate to some parts of the anxious and avoidant styles, you might have a disorganized attachment style.
Someone with a disorganized attachment style might have similar aspects to their childhood as the anxious and avoidant styles. One or both of your caregivers most likely weren’t there for you in various ways when you needed them most.
A disorganized attachment style is often fear and avoidant based. Meaning the person wants love, but they don’t exactly know what to do with it when they have it.
These are the people who didn’t have love demonstrated for them in a healthy way, so they are attempting to piece together what it should look like through the little they know of it. If you’re in a relationship with someone who has a disorganized attachment style, let them know how special they are to you and that you’re there for them. Begin to explore what makes them feel the most loved and secure in the relationship.
If you have a disorganized attachment style, know your own worth, and don’t settle for someone who will treat you as less than. You are meant to be loved and you are deserving of it, no matter how you feel or how many people have let you down.
The key to a healthy relationship is knowing the darkest and most difficult parts of yourself and addressing them in a relationship with honesty and vulnerability. Finding your and your partner’s attachment styles is one of the best ways to improve your relationship because it is such a pivotal part of how you both communicate and move through life together.
Have you heard of attachment styles before? Do you know yours? Comment below!
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