In this article, I will summarize attachment theory and how it creates a blueprint for relationships. If you follow the links, you’ll learn why people are attracted to certain types of personalities and the pitfalls that come with an unhealthy relationship style (I’m looking at your emotionally unavailable partner). Finally, you’ll be able to explore what is so darn attractive about those difficult partners who don’t seem to want to do things, are challenging and downright exhausting. Parts of this article focus on the fact that “the person you want is not always a healthy option for yourself.”
How does attachment theory apply to relationships? Attachment Theory describes how our early relationship with caregivers, more commonly parents or guardians during infancy sets expectations in adulthood about what romantic partners should be like and how they should treat them or be treated.
British psychiatrist John Bowlby developed the theory in 1973 to understand children who were left alone at an early age and how the lack of attachment impacted their future relationships. Bowlby noticed that children who did not have a stable caregiver in childhood were at risk for feeling insecure, anxious, or mistrustful as adults because they lacked important development opportunities with someone else outside themselves. As adults, this can lead to insecurity about oneself (self-doubt), oneself, others, and the world in general.
He developed six attachment styles based on the type of caregiver and corresponding relationship a child has with them. The first three are termed secure: Secure, Anxious-Resistant/Ambivalent (or Dismissing) Style; Fearful Attachment Syndrome and Disorganized Conditioned Early Trauma Pattern. They all impact the child in one way or another, but not to the degree of an insecure attachment pattern.
The other three are termed Insecure Attachment Patterns; they include Disorganized-Disoriented Condition (Early Trauma Pattern), Dismissing Style, and Fearful/Avoidant Styles, which all have a more significant impact on developing secure relationships with others in adulthood than their counterparts.
People should understand their own attachment style. If they’ve experienced an insecure attachment pattern, then there is a good chance that their relationships will be less stable than those with secure attachments. If you wonder what type of attachment style you have, you can take the test to understand better.
This article aims to give readers insight into the impact early childhood has on shaping how successful one’s intimate relationship can become in adulthood and what patterns are most common for people who have insecure attachment styles.