Attachment Styles: Understand Their Powerful Secrets From the First Date On
Attachment styles mean a whole lot when it comes to your love life! Perhaps you’ve seen the term around, but you are wondering just what is an attachment style? In short, it is the way you approach or avoid intimate relationships.
Your style is clearest when you are emotionally triggered, which means you have anxiety, emotional shutdown, and/or anger regarding something your partner does– or does not– do or say. When you are triggered you will tend to either chase after him or her or avoid contact to protect yourself from being hurt.
Understanding and overcoming your own attachment style and understanding the attachment styles of the people you are dating are two important secrets to creating a lasting soulmate relationship.
Attachment styles are based largely on how you were parented when you were growing up. There are four types: Anxious Preoccupied, Dismissive Avoidant, Fearful Avoidant or Fearful and Secure. In this blog, I will share the dynamics of each style and what to do to transcend them and get to your happily ever after.
Understanding the Secrets of Attachment Styles: Anxious Preoccupied Attachment or “I must have closeness with you now!”
If your parents provided some nurturance, but it was mingled with abandonment, that is periods of time where they were not attentive to you, you may have an Anxious Preoccupied attachment style. This means that you tend to want and need closeness and run after/move toward your partner, both literally and figuratively in your mind. When you think you might be abandoned by your love, you start obsessing about them. You analyze every little thing your partner says or does, with a fantasy that, if you could just figure him or her out, you could get the safety, bonding and nurturing you deeply need.
Anxious Preoccupied folks need to be with their beloveds a lot of the time. They constantly need attention and reassurance. They deeply fear rejection or abandonment. Although they’re seeking security by clinging to their relationships, Anxious Preoccupied types often push their partners away. This can take the form of righteous anger about not getting enough time or caring. Or whining about a lack of attention , appreciation or help. Or demanding more and more time, closeness and intimacy. Often in this pattern there is a lot of resentment and a sullen and depressed vibe about feeling neglected. Of course, this tends to create the very thing that is feared: rejection and abandonment.
Understanding the Secrets of Attachment Styles: Dismissive Avoidant Attachment or “I don’t care and I don’t need you!”
If your upbringing included prolonged abandonment or smothering (helicopter parenting), this can leads to an Dismissive Avoidant attachment style. Which means you tend to avoid closeness or intimacy and, when triggered, shut down, stop talking or run away from your partner, both literally and figuratively. Dismissive Avoidants are distant, non-committal and act like they don’t have any needs for intimacy or affection. They are super self-sufficient and have a tendency to emotionally distance themselves from their partner. Or they may come off as focused on themselves and their own comforts rather than interested in their partners. Finally, they avoid having meaningful dialog.
Dismissive Avoidant Attachments are often have very little insight into themselves, their dynamics or what they are feeling. Often, they claim they have no feelings and can shut down and freeze their partners out in the middle of an heated argument. They are masters of disconnection with others. Of course, at a deeper level, these folks do need connection and intimacy—so they tend to be shooting themselves in the foot.
Understanding the Secrets of Attachment Styles: Recurrent Triggers in the Anxious Preoccupied–Dismissive Avoidant Combination
Anxious Preoccupied people often date Dismissive Avoidant partners, which can lead to constant triggering of each other. The Anxious Preoccupied one, usually the woman, constantly feels neglected or abandoned because her partner is distant and not sharing of himself or his feelings. The Dismissive Avoidant, on the other hand, feels he is constantly deluged with demands for attention and believes that he can never make his partner happy. So, he retreats even further. And his partner then feels even more abandoned and terrified of loss. So she clings, badgers and analyzes everything even more. And so it escalates– as they constantly trigger each other to the point of great unhappiness. Bear this in mind when you choose a partner.
Understanding the Secrets of Attachment Styles: The Fearful Avoidant or “I can’t live with or without you!
The third type is Fearful Avoidant Attachment style. This often results from parenting that involved abuse, violence, and/or an out-of-control or chaotic early family life. In clinical practice, we know that traumatic childhood experiences create annihilation fears—a sense that there is danger in being attached. And the resultant style is an oscillation between being anxiously needy and strongly avoidant.
A person with a fearful attachment lives in an ambivalent state–they find it hard to tolerate being close or being distant from their partners. They tend to be unpredictable and full of drama with many highs and lows. Fearful types feel they need to analyze, pursue and cling to their beloveds to get their needs for met, but when they have intimacy, they sabotage it. Because at that point they feel trapped and terrified and pull away. A person with fearful attachment may wind up in abusive relationships.
Understanding the Secrets of Attachment Styles: The Secure Attachment, or “I can have real evolving love with you!”
Good enough parenting with steady nurturance and ongoing caring and encouragement in childhood leads to a Secure Attachment style. In our experience, securely attached adults tend to have healthier love relationships. Children with a secure attachment see their parent as a secure base that supports them. A kind of base that allows them to go out and be independent and explore new experiences. A secure adult has a similar relationship with their partner, feeling secure and connected, while allowing both of them to have “me” time and actualize their dreams.
Secure adults offer support when their partner feels distressed. They themselves also go to their partner for comfort and support when they have troubles. Their relationship tends to be honest, open and equal. In fact, this type of relationship tends to generate health, happiness and personal growth for both of them.
Understanding the Secrets of Attachment Styles: The Secure Type—Could Be Your Best Match
A secure guy or gal who is crazy about you, willing to grow, and meets your soulmate basics can make the best partner in love. When the going gets tough, he or she will hang in there and work things out. He or she can have authentic conversations. The Secure type responds to your requests for intimacy and to your request for “me” time! In this way you feel close, bonded and grounded in a solid way, yet able to do your own thing.
Understanding the Secrets of Attachment Styles: How to Determine Your Style
It is critical to understand your own attachment style. A powerful way to do this is to look for a formative incident or two in your childhood that jelled your inner attachment style pattern. For example, what is the earliest memory you have of being upset as a child in your family of origin? What were you feeling? Were you feeling abandoned? Left? Neglected? Longing? In fact, then, you may have an anxious preoccupied style as an adult.
Invisible? Suffocated? Controlled? Then you may have a dismissive avoidant style.
Understanding the Secrets of Attachment Styles: Use Affirmations to Counter Your Attachment Fears
For example, here are some powerful affirmations that you can use to counter your fears. First, write down any one or two that appeal to you. Next, post them where you can see them every day. In fact, if you practice this daily, you’ll be able to reprogram your thinking.
- I have forever love that is stable and real.
- I’m deeply connected in the blissful security of true love.
- I am in a happy lasting relationship with (fill in the name of your Beloved)who completely cherishes me in forever love.
- I courageously stay the course for lasting love that makes me happy and fulfilled in every way.
- I’m safe and trust that steady forever love is mine.
- Everything is unfolding perfectly with (fill in the name of your Beloved)
Understanding the Secrets of Attachment Styles: Look for Clues in Your Partner Early on in Dating
Here are some clues about your match’s attachment style you can see early on in dating:
- Makes eye contact
- Talks about feelings
- Speaks positively about their parents or their parents’ marriage
- Speaks positively about his or her childhood
- Has a history of serious relationships
Anxious Preoccupied Style:
- Has a history of continuous serial relationships
- Worried about what others think
- Seems to have a hard time being alone
- Seems too bent on pleasing you, with no balance of satisfying his/her own needs
- Over-disclosing (TMI) about themselves?
Dismissive Avoidant Style:
- Does not make eye contact
- Does not discuss feelings
- Cannot say what he or she did wrong in last relationship
- History of broken engagements (avoidant or fearful)
- Has a history of abusive relationships
- History of broken engagements
- History where he/she breaks off and shuts down relationships easily
- Seems too bent on pleasing you, with no balance of satisfying his/her own needs
Now you have many secrets to understanding attachment styles. You deserve love that is fulfilling and that can heal the fears and wounds related to your particular style. So to learn more about how to overcome your attachment fears take advantage of a free session with one of my gifted Love Mentors. Remember, one session could change your life.
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Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a relationship advice expert, frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show and the creator of a globally available dating coach and Love Mentor® program. Dr. Diana is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed best-selling relationship and dating book, “Love in 90 Days”. Love in 90 Days was the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her Dating Tips & Relationship Advice Newsletter.
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