Attachment theory, childhood attachment – the question of “what is my attachment style” is as common as “what is your sign?” when it comes to attachment theory and childhood attachment. As we learn more about psychology, relationships, communication, love, security, parenting and marriage – the more the idea of attachment comes up. How do our relationships with our primary caregivers affect our relationships with our partners? Let’s find out. Take a look at the 3 following primary attachment styles and see which one you connect with (or attach with).
Attachment is said to form from ages 6 months to approximately 2 years of age. The interactions with our primary caregiver during this time sets up our primary attachment style. When we have a consistent, attentive, compassionate and caring caregiver, we form a secure attachment. As we grow we are comfortable with independence, knowing that we will always have the support of others if we need it. We feel safe, valued, seen and heard. As an adult we feel this way with our chosen partner. We feel safe with both within ourselves and in a partnership. We have a good sense of self and self esteem.
When we have an inconsistent, unpredictable caregiver we tend to have an anxious attachment. This caregiver may sometimes be loving and attentive or may be pushy, demanding or cold. This can cause the child to become confused or unsure and feel unsupported. They can become suspicious and questioning of other people’s motives growing up. As an adult, they question other’s intentions at times while also yearning to be seen, heard and understood. This causes confusion and feelings of anxiousness.
Caregivers who are not emotionally, physically or intellectually available for us can lead us to build an avoidant or ambivalent attachment style. The unresponsive and inattentive nature of these caregivers can cause the child to “grow up too quickly.” This means they may become too independent at an early age, thinking all they can rely on is themselves. These self sufficient, independent adults find it difficult to rely on the support of others. An Avoidant Attachment Style’s partner may find it difficult to connect with them on an emotional, partnership level. They may seem to manage situations through avoidance and individual resolution rather than through collaboration.
The Good News
Whether you have secure, anxious or avoidant attachment tendencies- you are not stuck with them forever. These are just labels to categorize our behaviors based on our relationship with our primary caregiver as a child. With that being said, we are no longer children! The most important thing to remember is that behavior can change – that is what we have control over as an aware adult! The first step is awareness. Once we are aware of how we have been conditioned to attach and connect with others, we can start to change our thoughts and behaviors around it. Speaking with a professional who is trained in attachment theory can help sort out patterns of behavior that may be difficult for you to see on your own.