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Understanding Your Relationship Attachment Style: What Kind of Partner are You?

Attachment styles are developed early in life, and for many, solidified by 3 years of age. Your style is dependent on how you connect firstly to yourself (and the degree of anxiety this can create) and to others within the world around you (and the degree to which this will influence avoidance). Along with this framework, there are 4 specific styles of attachment which strongly influence how we cope within relationships:

Preoccupied (High Anxiety, Low Avoidance)

Those with the ‘Preoccupied Attachment’ style often find themselves feeling desperate for love. Individuals with this style of attachment are sensitive to the possibility of being rejected or overlooked by their partner, which they need to protect themselves. Leslie Becker-Phelps (Phd) states that this group might overreact to problems and underestimate their ability to to cope with these problems. They might also over-focus on past, present or future possible problems.

A focus of these individuals’ is to seek out and find an attachment figure to assist in managing their difficulties in problem solving. This category is often described as chronically overwhelmed, vulnerable, and needy. In a relationship, this attachment style often starts out strong, having an early loving connection, but it can quickly turn to viewing partners as unloving, untrustworthy and even possibly unfaithful. All of this leads to the individual experiencing feelings of jealousy (unrealistically) and possessiveness. Should these feelings not settle down, forgiveness becomes more difficult leading to greater problems within the relationship.

Fearful (High Anxiety, High Avoidance)

Those with the ‘Fearful Attachment’ style can be identified as having intense fears of rejection while at the same time, requiring constant reassurance and a close connection to their partner. This group is prone to needing approval constantly from emotionally distant partners and seek attention through exaggerated reactions to perceive distress. The fear attachment style causes people to struggle with the tension of being too close or too distant. This can cause distress, insecurity, extremely passive or even distant emotional responses. Anxiety, depression and other emotional issues are often the byproduct of this attachment style.

Dismissing (Low Anxiety, High Avoidance)

The ‘Dismissive Attachment’ style can be best identified by those that have no need for love. These individuals seem to focus more on other parts of their lives rather than their relationships. Underneath this feeling is a core belief that their partners will not reliably be there to support them or comfort them. This group protects themselves unconsciously by deactivating their attachment system, leading to avoidance and not being ever vulnerable to depend on a under dependable partner. This group surpasses, avoids, or ignores their emotions and attachment needs. They position themselves away from others and remain often distant, limiting interactions or intimate conversations.

Dismissing people for the most part are not connected well to emotions, including their own emotions, leading them to lack significantly in coping skills when confronted with emotionally upsetting situations. They will minimize or deny their anger. Anger does often exist under the surface causing this group to be tense and unforgiving, ultimately avoiding solution finding. This group will generally seek out and stay in loving relationships while at the same time, protecting themselves through being self-sufficient in relationships. Sexually, this group is also distant and protective, as they do not want to weaken their armour. Hugs, touch, or caressing cause this group to feel uncomfortable.

Secure (Low Anxiety, Low Avoidance)

The ‘Secure Attachment’ style can be best described as being comfortable with a full range of emotions. They feel lovable, good, caring and competent as an individual. Individuals who experience this had parents that were trustworthy, well-intentioned, sensitive, and emotionally there for them. This group feels good within themselves and with the relationships around them. Securely attached people tend to feel happy with their lives. They tend to place a greater emphasis on emotional intimacy, and they tend to remain faithful, and are open and willing to discuss and share their sexual and emotional needs with their partners.

It is important to better understand your attachment style. You may even want to know the attachment style of your current and past partners. This might shed light on where change might be possible or necessary for you to improve your connection to those you love in your life.

Here is one way to identify your attachment style.

Be well Ian

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