How Attachment Styles Play a Role in Romantic Relationships

Valentine’s day is a joyous occasion for many, a time to express your love or feel adored. But for others, hardly. The search for romance can be lonely, and being in troubled relationships may feel even worse. In spite of the difficulty in finding everlasting love, understanding the science of adult attachment could assist you in finding the emotional intimacy you are seeking.

Our attachment style influences most aspects of our relationships: from selecting a partner to how well they progress and sadly, how they come to an end. Identifying our attachment patterns can assist in recognizing our strengths and vulnerabilities in a romantic relationship. Have you noticed a pattern of unhealthy and distressing behaviors in your love life? Do you get too clingy or dependent on your partner? Do you feel jealous or do you seem to be more involved compared to your partner? Perhaps you want to be with someone, but as soon as your partner tries to get emotionally close, you ghost them. These unhealthy patterns can cause conflict with your intimate partner and need to be actively addressed. You can start by noticing if you find any relatable aspects in the following three insecure attachment styles: anxious, avoidant, and disorganized.

People with an anxious style of attachment tend to be extremely needy. As the label suggests, they are often anxious, worried, uncertain, and have poor self-esteem. They crave feelings of intimacy and closeness while simultaneously worrying that their significant other doesn’t want to be with them. This leads to being unable to trust or completely rely on their partner. If you ask an anxious partner for “some space,” they perceive it as a threat, provoking anger, fear, or panic. It’s likely that your parent adopted inconsistent parenting – sometimes being attentive and responsive to your needs as an infant, other times unavailable or occupied.

On the other hand, avoidant partners are opposites of anxious partners – they struggle with tolerating or expressing emotional intimacy. They value their independence, are content to care for themselves, and feel that others don’t need them. They may accuse their partners of being too needy, whereas their partners accuse avoidant partners of being too rigid, closed off, and distant. Likelihood of keeping secrets, engaging in affairs, and minimizing their partner’s feelings increases as well as the mortality of the relationship. This may stem from a parent who was emotionally unavailable or neglectful during infancy: since their needs were rarely met regularly.

Finally, disorganized attachment originates from intense fear, typically as a product of childhood trauma or abuse. Disorganized partners feel that they are unworthy of love or closeness in an intimate relationship, finding it confusing and unsettling. This may cause swinging from extremes of love and hate for a partner. They are just on hard on themselves as they are on others. Insensitivity to a partner’s emotions, substance abuse, and controlling behavior can give rise to aggression or violence. It’s probable that the parent acted as both a source of comfort and fear for them during infancy – thus, creating the confusion that disorganized partners feel about relationships now. The parent may have also ignored their needs, or their traumatic/erratic behavior could have seared the trauma.

If you could not relate to any of these insecure attachment styles, perhaps you are securely attached. Secure partners appreciate their self-worth and can be their genuine selves in a romantic relationship. They are comfortable expressing their emotions and needs, able to seek emotional balance, and use healthy ways to resolve conflicts. They are sufficiently resilient to bounce back from setbacks and failings in relationships and other aspects of their lives. It’s likely that their caretakers stayed engaged with them during infancy, responded to their diverse needs on a daily basis, provided comfort, and effectively managed stressful situations – making them feel safe and secure.

However, a secure attachment style does not mean that you’re a perfect fit or you don’t
experience relationship troubles. But you mostly feel secure enough to own responsibility for your failings and mistakes and are willing to ask for help or support when you are in need. However, if you identify an insecure attachment style in either yourself or your significant other, it’s crucial to know that you don’t have to give in to the unhealthy enduring behaviors, attitudes, and expectations that cause trouble for your relationships. You can develop a more secure adult attachment style with therapy: one-on-one or with your partner in couples counseling. In either an individual or couple setting, therapists trained in attachment theory can help you make sense of past emotional difficulties and gain a sense of security. Reach out to us today if you feel that you are struggling with your attachment style.

Add Your Comment

Schedule a Callback

    Fill out the form below to receive a confidential initial consultation with a callback.