Attachment Styles in Adult Relationships


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Reading about attachment styles and therapy today and pondering on a few things. There are 4 main types of attachment styles: secure, anxious/preoccupied/resistant, avoidant and disorganized. 

I find the Strange Situation experiment fascinating. Especially if you apply it to your adult relationships. It goes like this:

The infant is left alone with a stranger while the primary caregiver/attachment figure leaves the room. The the attachment figure returns. The infant’s behavior is observed. Three main patterns emerged from this experiment:

The securely attached infant becomes distressed by being with a stranger and being left, however when the parent returns they are able to soothe, re-establish the bond and move on exploring their environment without much fuss.

The anxious/resistant infant vacillates between being needy and angry towards the attachment figure for leaving. They have a hard time being soothed and moving on to exploring the environment independently.

The avoidant infant seems unfazed by the separation and appears equally indifferent to the parent returning. However, the emotional distress he/she is under is equal to the anxious infant except they don’t show it.

Got it?

Good.

Now think about your current or last relationship.

What is your attachment style to them?

Is it different with different people?

Why?

And most importantly, how do you reestablish the attachment bond after a separation, may that be minor or seemingly insignificant? How does it effect your communication?

Research shows that people who are securely attached benefit significantly more from therapy which is interesting since, in therapy, we see more people with insecure attachment styles. That’s WHY they are in therapy to begin with!

As I keep thinking about this topic, I revisit my own childhood and am painfully awakened to the realization of a significant break in attachment to my main parental figures which explains a lot of my issues I have encountered in relationships as an adult. We often think of abuse or trauma during significant attachment periods (0-3 years) in extreme terms (like sexual, physical abuse), however as it turns out, even being sent away to your grandparents for a while may have a significant effect.

The good news is, your attachment style changes over time through secure/safe attachment figures into adulthood.

The question is…

What kind of attachment(s) are YOU choosing for yourself? 

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