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Attachment Styles and Their Influence On Interpersonal Relationships

What is Attachment Theory and how does my attachment style affect my interpersonal relationships?

Have you ever stopped to think how the relationship you may have had with your caregiver for example, may be affecting your relationships now? Do you ever encounter difficulties when forming interpersonal relationships and don’t know why? Attachment theory aims to describe how and why an individual may or may not handle an interpersonal relationship (both short-term and long-term). It is believed that an individuals’ experience with a caregiver for example, can play an influence on how an individual will react when separated from the caregiver or when hurt. Additionally, to describe the interpersonal relationships that an individual may form, four different types of attachment styles have been developed.

The following attachment styles have been identified as the primary styles:

  • Secure Attachment
  • Avoidant Attachment
  • Ambivalent Attachment
  • Disorganized Attachment

Now, what are some characteristics of each?

Secure Attachment:

  • Tend to have a positive view on relationships, including personal interactions
  • Feel secure with or without companion
  • Are able to give and take emotional expressions
  • Tend to discuss an issue rather than attacking the person

Avoidant Attachment

  • Tend to distance themselves from relationships
  • May often come off as if they were only focused on themselves
  • Often shut-down emotionally
  • Express little interest in a relationship and are usually unwilling to share thoughts & feelings with others

Ambivalent Attachment

  • May become greatly distressed when their loved one leaves
  • There’s often a constant worry that their partner for example, does not live them
  • Hesitate on becoming close to others
  • Extremely suspicious of strangers

Disorganized Attachment

  • Often show a mixture of avoidant and resistant behaviors
  • May seem confused or apprehensive when the caregiver is present
  • Often take on the parental role

How does such attachment influence the interpersonal relationships I have today or may have in the future?

An individuals’ attachment style develops in early childhood and continues throughout the lifespan as a working model for the relationships that we may be established in the future. Such attachment style influences how we maintain a relationship because often, it is what impacts the way we may perceive or react to a current situation or how we pursue our needs. For example, an individual who may have a secure attachment, as an adult they are more likely to work together with their loved one to meet both of their needs when encountering a conflict. However, someone who may have an avoidant attachment style, they may often want to engage with someone who tends to isolate themselves so that they don’t have to be faced in the need of solving something. The way our attachment style is brought about continues to influence how we engage with our peers, friends, romantic partners, co-workers, and classmate for example, today and in the future.

What can I do to ensure that my interpersonal relationship stays healthy?

Know your attachment style. When an individual knows their attachment style they can easily understand their own strengths and vulnerabilities in a relationship. It is important for you to recognize what is it that has influenced your personality today to begin to understand the reasoning for your actions and type of relationships. Once you understand yourself, you will be able to understand your loved ones and possibly reach to an agreement when encountering a conflict for example.

If you are interested in learning more about attachment styles, how they affect your daily life, or how to manage interpersonal relationships, check out our upcoming support group at http://venturacommunitycounseling.com/managing-interpersonal-relationships-support-group/