Is it true that some people are just “lucky in love”? Could it be that there are folks who aren’t meant to have a healthy relationship? Short answer: No. More likely, there are some very important underlying factors to consider. Early childhood experiences with caregivers can determine and influence how we bond (or not) with others in relationships as adults.
Think back on your experiences with your primary caregiver(s). This might help you understand why you’re having problems connecting with others now. What I’m getting at here is Attachment Theory. Put simply, this idea relates to how a child/caregiver relationship impacts adult relationships.
What is Attachment Theory?
More than six decades ago, a psychoanalyst named John Bowlby coined the term. He was researching how the separation between infants and parents influenced children later in life. Infants will go to extremes to get their caregivers to stay near them. How that caregiver
reacts can have a profound effect on the mind of the child. Generally speaking, it can induce one of four primary attachment styles.
The 4 Primary Attachment Styles
You can probably guess where this one is going. A securely attached person more often than not had loving and attentive caregivers. They make up roughly 56 percent of the population. Such a person:
- Feels safe loving and being loved
- Is comfortable trusting and being trusted
- Forms close bonds easily
- Will not fear intimacy
- Happily gives space to a loved one
Everyone wants to feel loved and secure and appreciated. We can feel intense fear at the thought of losing any of these feelings. It can feel like abandonment. Someone with an anxious attachment style feels all of this far more deeply than others. You could say they feel it too intensely. They come across as needy and controlling — often because they are. Anxiously attached people come on strong and can sabotage relationships in the process. It’s believed that 19 percent of adults display an anxious attachment style.
This has been called the opposite of an anxious attachment style. As the name implies, someone in this category:
- Goes to extremes to avoid closeness
- Won’t seek out romantic connections
- Avoids emotional intimacy
- Tends to be a loner
The source of this template is an unreliable caregiver and/or parent. When a child learns they can’t count on a caregiver being there when they need them, they develop emotional distance. This is used to protect them from further feelings of rejection. A little more than one in four adults struggle with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style.
Also known as a “disorganized,” avoidant-fearful attachment has its roots in dangerous or even abusive behavior by the caregiver. Their erratic and sometimes risky behavior causes an infant to fear for their safety. Hence, they see their parents as “scary” at times but unexpectedly loving at other times. As adults, avoidant-fearfully attached people do not know how to get their needs met in a healthy way. They have trouble feeling secure in the world. Seven percent of the adult population falls into this category.
Good News: Attachment Styles Can Be Changed!
Sure, these styles are developed at a very young age. However, through therapy and hard work, they can be changed. Anyone from the three insecure categories above can eventually thrive in a secure attachment.
Therapy can help you understand how your attachment style (and that of your partner) plays out in your relationship. Your weekly sessions can guide you towards the steps needed to connect with others in your life — in a way that works for everyone involved. It all begins with a free and confidential consultation. If you’re interested in getting more helpful information you can subscribe by using the form below to get an email each time I post a new article.
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