Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had no trauma or difficulties in our background affecting how we interact with people currently? Unfortunately, that is not real life. We are who we are from all the things that have occurred. Some of those things make it difficult to form strong, positive attachments to others easily. This week I want to talk about those attachment styles and offer some suggestons.
Since these attachments have huge impacts on both our romantic relationships and our relationships with our children, I want to address both types of relationships. There will be part one (this post) for romantic relationships and picking a partner based on your attachment style. Then part two will discuss activities and interventions you can use as a parent based on your style. If you are a parent or planning to be, I encourage you to make sure to check back for part two. So let’s jump into how to pick a partner based on your attachment style.
For people with a secure attachment style, forming strong bonds with others comes fairly easy. You are comfortable with sharing part of yourself with another person. You can be open and honest with others about your feelings. Your partner can express their feelings to you. If you can form secure attachments without having to actively work on it, consider yourself lucky. Don’t take it for granted.
The goal is secure attachment. If your attachment style is already secure then you have a great foundation to start with. The key to picking the right partner for you is to find another person who is as self-assured and straight-forward as you are. You should seek a relationship with someone who can express their feelings for you and is not into manipulation or playing games. Getting with a game player may cause your secure attachment style to be altered.
You could find happiness with a person who has a different attachment style as long as they are aware of their own influence on the relationship. The other person has to be willing to see the fault in themselves. For you, self-awareness in a partner is key. Bottom line: seek out a partner who is strong, honest, and ready for commitment. Don’t waste your time on someone who is anything less.
If you have an anxious/pre-occupied style of attachment then you likely crave constant emotional intimacy. You want to be with your partner as much as possible, and it causes you distress when they are not available. You might see your partner as your knight in shining armor who can save you from all your troubles. The attachment you have to your partner can become almost a need instead of a want. You might become dependent on them needing to be there for you. Be wary of this pattern occurring.
If you have an anxious/pre-occupied attachment style, you need someone willing to provide the validation you crave. Someone who is not going to get agitated when you ask if they truly love you. You want to pick a partner who has patience. A partner who understands that a simple statement of re-assurance can strengthen your relationship in a big way. A parter willing to put in extra one-on-one time when you are need it.
You do not want to pick a person who is quick to anger. With the anxious/pre-occupied attachment style, you will struggle to maintain a happy relationship with a person who gets upset and says hurtful things. You already question your bond. If your partner gets angry and gives you the impression they are questioning your relationship, you will not just be able to let that go when they are no longer agitated. It will perpetuate the feeling of uneasiness and end up causing continuing concerns.
People who have a dismissive/avoidant attachment style try to pretend that they don’t need to be close to anyone. They pretend they do not get emotionally tied to others. If you have a dismissive/avoidant style, you likely try to not let yourself get too close to your partners. All this effort will be in vain, as people need intimate attachments with others to be satisfied. Work on letting people in and not keeping everyone, especially your partner, at arm’s length.
When your attachment style is dismissive/avoidant, it will often cause your partner to feel lonely. Pick someone who is independent and enjoys doing their own thing. Your partner needs to know that you creating distance at times is not an insult to them. It’s just who you are. When you start creating that distance to protect yourself then your partner needs to be comfortable spending time alone.
If you find another person with the dismissive/avoidant style you want to get into a relationship with, you should go for it. Each of you will understand the need to move slowly so neither person is uncomfortable. You will understand each other’s need for some space. I would advise against engaging in a relationship with a person whose attachment style is anxious/ pre-occupied. Your ability to detach at times will not mesh with their frequent relationship anxiety.
Being in love is scary. No one knows this better than you if your attachment style is fearful/avoidant. You struggle to decide if you want to be with your partner forever or duck and run to emotional safety on a weekly basis. You can get completely overwhelmed by being all in. Try not to let the fear of giving yourself to someone let you run away. It is scary, but it is worth the risk.
It takes a lot for you to actually, fully get into a committed relationship. If you have moved past the flip-flopping of your feelings, that is a big step. Make sure that whoever you are with knows that at times, it may be one step forward and two steps back. Find someone willing to go with the flow. Someone who is willing to compromise and adjust plans as needed. Who is not set in their own ways.
Your partner should be self-confident. When a person is confident they are less likely to take your inability to be absolutely sure what you want personally. They can accept that is something you have to work through that has nothing to do with who they are. A person that will start doubting your relationship every time you get overwhelmed is going to have a tough time making it long-term.
Not sure what attachment style you are:
Ask yourself, are you fine all on your own? Do you feel comfortable emotionally investing with another person even though you don’t need to? If yes, you likely have a secure attachment style.
Do you question how much your partner loves you at times? Do you feel uncomfortable if they are not available to you? If this sounds familiar, you likely fall under the anxious/pre-occupied style.
Does the thought of letting someone in scare you almost to death? Do you like to have your own space that no one can inhabit? If this described you, then you are probably dismissive/avoidant.
Finally, are you terrified of making a commitment that you can’t take back? Do you go back and forth on whether you want to be single or with someone forever and ever on a regular basis? Then yes, you likely have a fearful/avoidant style.
I hope you have found the tips in this post helpful based on your style. Please feel free to share and/or comment below! And make sure to check back for part two.