Could your attachment style be preventing you from finding love?

Could your attachment style be preventing you from finding love?

I know what you're thinking. How could my attachment style possibly be preventing me from meeting a partner? A lot of people don't realize that there are four attachment styles, and depending on our individual combination we generally feel a certain way about love, –Drs. Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller's Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment & How It Can Help You Find True Love

 

Attachment style is the behavior you've developed over the years to protect yourself from hurt.

This is how we are built: to learn from the people around us, and then to build our own ideas of relationships based on what we see. This means that it’s not only possible for someone with an insecure attachment style to transform into a secure person over time, it’s likely.

When I finally began talking about my past relationships and dating experiences with a close friend, I started to realize that while I might have been repeating the same patterns, they were not me. These behaviors were something I had learned — adaptations that had helped me survive past pain — and they didn't need to define who I was any longer.

Maybe your current attachment style isn't serving you well right now, but don't worry too much about changing yourself or your behavior quite yet. The first step is simply allowing yourself some specialized self-love. Take a few minutes every day to remind yourself of who you are at your core and all the wonderful things you bring into the world around you, even if those things aren't always reflected back at you in romantic relationships (yet). You deserve kindness from your partner, but so much more importantly than that—you deserve kindness from yourself.

Knowing your attachment style is important in helping you understand your behavior in relationships.

Your attachment style is not set in stone, nor does it determine the outcome of your relationships or how you’ll experience life. You can always change your attachment style and break old patterns to create a more fulfilling relationship with yourself and others. The first step is understanding why you may be having trouble finding love, or connecting with your partner, so you can identify the issues, work through them and heal.

Your past experiences can shape your future relationships — even if your memory of these events isn't always accurate.

Your past experiences can shape your future relationships — even if your memory of these events isn't always accurate.

The way you think about the past can influence the way you approach your future relationships, says Dr. Finkel. Think about it this way: when you get into an argument with a loved one, you might tend to replay old arguments or past hurts in your head. These echoes from the past color how you see and interact with your current partner — maybe you become hypersensitive to signs that they're growing distant because a previous partner left you for someone else, or perhaps you're extra-reluctant to admit fault because it feels like every single time something goes wrong in your relationship it's somehow all your fault.

You might not be able to trust your memory of the past, either (which is why couples therapy involves so much talking). "Our memories are so fallible," Dr. Finkel said. "They're shaped by our interests and tendencies." Rather than relying on what we remember as fact, he suggests embracing an attitude of healthy skepticism when revisiting our memories of childhood and former relationships: "Try to have a stance toward them where you say 'there's some truth in there' but also, 'it may be exaggerated' or 'I might be just seeing things selectively.'"

At some point, we all develop a strategy to protect ourselves from being hurt or rejected by others.

At some point, we all develop a strategy to protect ourselves from being hurt or rejected by others. If you're like most people, this happened in your childhood, as you tried to make sense of the world. Attachment style is a lifelong way of relating to others based on what kind of relationships you experienced when growing up.

Here's one example: if your parents were emotionally unavailable or unpredictable, you grew up feeling unsure about whether your needs would be met. You developed an avoidant attachment style—a coping mechanism in which you learned not to expect much support and comfort from others.

As an adult, this manifested in romantic relationships as emotional distance. You avoided getting too close or sharing too much with a partner because that led to disappointment or rejection in the past. Perhaps without realizing it, you ended up sabotaging potential relationships before they even started because they triggered old fears and doubts about yourself and other people's intentions toward you.

There are three types of attachment style, secure, anxious and avoidant.

The most important thing to know about attachment styles is that they are *adaptive*. In other words, your attachment style is predicated on the relationship you're having. You might have a secure attachment style with one partner, but an avoidant or anxious attachment style with another.

When it comes to romantic relationships, we often conflate our own needs and desires with those of our partners. We assume that we can "fix" them and their issues—the same way they can fix ours. But ultimately, we are all in charge of our own emotions, and no amount of fixing will really make us emotionally available if we're not ready to be emotionally open in the first place.

Securely attached people typically have a secure base to turn to when they need support.

These people are fully aware that their relationships are important, and they allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to be intimate with a partner. You can trust them, because they're not following a rigid script or trying to control you. They’ll treat you as an equal and respect your unique qualities, allowing for a healthy relationship without fear of being rejected. They also tend to be less jealous than the other attachment styles.

Anxious attachment style is when a person needs constant praise, reassurance and approval in order to feel loved.

Loving, kind and generous in nature, the Anxious style is quick to fall into relationships with partners whom they perceive as strong and stable. They have a deep-rooted fear of being alone. It's not that they are incapable of standing on their own two feet – it's just that their need for praise and reassurance renders them unable to function without someone by their side.

The main issue with the Anxious attachment style is that they require constant contact and reassurance from their love interest – something which often proves tiresome to those on the receiving end.

It's important to remember that Anxious people are not being difficult or demanding when they ask you 'Do you love me?' or 'Why don't we see each other more often?'. They are simply trying to deal with their fears and insecurities, which can never be completely eradicated (and neither should they).

Avoidant attachment style means that you try to downplay the significance of romantic relationships, or act as if you don't care about them.

Those with an avoidant attachment style tend to be emotionally independent and self-sufficient. They are comfortable when they are alone and do not like to give or receive compliments and gifts. They have a hard time trusting others, but their inability to trust may be the result of past experiences rather than a reflection on their current relationship.

If you do not accept that your attachment style is problematic for yourself and for your partner, it can be hard for you to change.

If you've found yourself stuck in a relationship that's not healthy for you, or if you're struggling to maintain the relationships you have, it's important to change your attachment style. That said, change can be hard. Sometimes we don't want to believe that anything about us is responsible for our relationship woes. Sometimes we'd rather believe that our partner is wrong and needs to change first. If you do not accept that your attachment style is problematic for yourself and for your partner, it can be hard for you to change.

The first step to changing your attachment style is knowing what needs changing. If you are not aware of the ways in which your attachment style affects your relationships, it can be difficult to figure out how to fix things. Consider seeing a therapist who specializes in relationship issues; they will be able to help you identify what the problem might be with regards to intimacy and connection in your life

Your attachment style may not be working for you anymore.

In the first step of this quiz you were asked to identify your attachment style. Did you find yourself asking, “What attachment style?” If you did not know your attachment style, then it is likely that it is not working for you anymore. To change your attachment style, you will need to be aware of it and be able to identify it.

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