Our attachment styles can vary depending on how we were raised and conditioned by society to give and receive love from others. Oftentimes, our attachment styles can greatly impact how we experience all of the relationships within our lives, whether they’re platonic or romantic. There are three distinct attachment styles to be aware of: anxious attachment, avoidant attachment and secure attachment. Each of these categories not only help us to describe how we react within relationships, but can also help us to identify more about ourselves and our personalities. The ultimate goal to achieve, if we’re looking to develop a healthy relationship with others, is to work toward the most stable attachment style, which is a secure attachment. A secure attachment means that you are willingly able to set healthy boundaries, feel safe and stable in close relationships and have high self-esteem within and outside of a relationship. Though no human being is perfect, we definitely have an opportunity to feel more safe and stable within the relationships in our lives, and the relationship with ourself as a result.
Let’s take a deep dive into each of the attachment styles, and ways we can help to build ourselves up to prepare for healthier relationships and healthier attachments.
People with an anxious attachment style tend to be fearful of rejection and abandonment, and they tend to be even more fearful of making mistakes within a relationship. Those who are dealing with an anxious attachment style might have gone through periods within their childhood where the primary parent/guardian might not have been fully present emotionally through a child’s early formative years, which usually ranges from the ages of 1 to 5. Children who never got the full attention or care they needed at this age, or either received “on and off” attention, often tend to look for love and attention elsewhere. This can greatly impact children as adults, as they might search for this love within their romantic relationships and friendships. This negative tendency to seek validation from others can get in the way of building impactful and meaningful relationships. Those who are suffering from an anxious attachment style can start to change their constant need to receive love from others by giving this love back to themselves. Journaling once a day and practicing daily self rituals such as meditation, yoga, breathwork and positive affirmations can help to turn an anxious attachment style into secure attachment. Seeking therapy can also be another transformative way to help combat an anxious attachment, as it can help individuals to work through inner childhood wounds and traumas that may be prohibiting healthy movement forward.
Those suffering from an avoidant attachment are usually more detached from relationships and are potentially afraid of true emotional intimacy. Avoidant attachment styles most evidently stem from childhood and a parent/guardian that may have avoided providing a safe and healthy environment for their children. Oftentimes, an avoidant parent may dismiss or not respond to a child’s basic needs, which can eventually manifest in a child’s adult life as avoiding basic needs offered by romantic partners and friendships. This adaptive behavior can also take form within the concept of receiving and giving love. Oftentimes, much like an anxious attachment partner, avoidant attachment partners may not feel worthy or deserving of receiving true love because of how they were conditioned to view it as a child. Those dealing with an avoidant attachment style can begin to build toward a secure attachment by working through their vulnerability and being open with others. Trust is also another huge factor for the avoidant attachment — in order to be open, having trustworthy partners or friends who allow avoidants to fully be themselves can also be very helpful. Positive affirmations and journaling can help people to work through any insecurities. Establishing healthy boundaries with others and understanding negative behaviors and thoughts during therapy sessions can also be very impactful.
The secure attachment style is the one we’re all essentially trying to reach. Having a secure attachment style usually takes time, however, it is definitely an attainable goal we can all achieve with ample time, effort and consistency. Those with a secure attachment have high self-esteem, have a strong relationship with themselves and others and aren’t fearful of giving love to or receiving love from romantic partners and others within their lives. Secure attachment adults have the ability to trust in vulnerability and are open to receiving vulnerability in return. Having a secure attachment style also means having the ability to establish healthy and secure boundaries without the fear of being judged, as well as being open to others establishing secure boundaries with them in return.
As we work toward reaching a secure attachment style, it’s important to remember that we do not have to be fully healed in order to receive a healthy and loving relationship. There are many common societal stereotypes that often portray healing as black and white, and that we all have to have our ish figured out in order to be happy. If you’re trying to build healthier relationships with others, the first place to start is engaging in active and open communication, being open to vulnerability and believing that we are all in fact worthy and deserving of love. When we begin to change negative habits and behaviors that often inhibit our ability to establish meaningful connections with others, we can then be open to a whole new world of possibilities and new opportunities for personal growth.
If you are unsure as to what your specific attachment style is, try taking the attachment style quiz to help further break down your attachment style.