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How Attachment Styles Can Affect Your Relationship  

“Look within. Be still. Free from fear and attachment, know the sweet joy of living in the way”.

– Buddha

Let’s talk about attachment.

There is a lot circulating lately about attachment styles and how they can affect our relationships. You’ve probably heard of the three attachments; secure, insecure, and avoidant. Some of you may not know what kind of attachment you have, and some may know very well. Don’t understand attachment styles or want to know more about how they may affect your personal life?

Dr. Gery Karantzas of Deakin University does a great job of breaking down the three attachments, and how they could affect a relationship.

First, let’s look at the three attachment styles. Which one do you identify with the most?

Anxious – You may tend to have a higher need for approval from others. You feel a more urgent need to be closer both physically and emotionally to others, especially your romantic partner(s). When there are bumps in the road within the relationship, you may have difficulties with containing your emotions. Dr. Karantzas notes that this style can range from low anxiety to high anxiety. What you might experience in an anxious attachment may not be what the person next to you experiences.

Avoidant – You may find that you tend to have a distrust in others. You can sometimes feel discomfort in being emotionally close or intimate with others. Some individuals with this style will suppress their worries and emotions and avoid relying on others.

Secure – Individuals with this type of style are trusting of others. You are comfortable sharing your emotions and feelings with others and can manage your distress relatively well. It may be that you find that you tend to be more comfortable in your problem-solving skills. You may be good in managing life stressors and know when and how to reach out to others.

Can our attachment style change?

The short answer: yes. Dr. Karantzas explains that it takes a lot of effort and time to change your attachment style. A reason for this is it begins to develop from infancy.

When there is a change in attachment styles, it’s usually a changes from an anxious attachment to a securely attachment. How does this happen? Reinforcement of love and commitment from one partner to another has been shown to help reduce insecure attachment and a healthy attachment.

Events within a relationship that reinforce a loss of connection and threats to the relationship can increase an anxious attachment leading to decrease security. Which in some cases can cause someone to make the shift from a secure attachment style to an insecure one.

How do secure attachment styles affect our relationships?

Work by Dr. Karantzas has shown that attachment styles can affect how we form, maintain, and end our relationships.

Individuals with secure attachment styles tend to approach relationships in a more confident manner. You tend to carry healthy habits through your relationships. You use constructive behaviours, effective communication, and support for your partners in times of distress and success. During a breakup, those with a secure attachment can usually get through with fewer negative emotions during . They are comfortable reaching out for support, and engage in less partner-blaming.

How do anxious attachment styles affect our relationships?

Individuals with anxious attachment styles have been found to report less satisfaction within their relationships. You may find that a high level of insecure attachment can cause an increase in conflicts. This can sometimes include using criticism, partner blame, and using guilt against your partner. With an anxious attachment style, you might have use ineffective behaviours. They could come across as a little bit over-helpful, overly friendly, or more inclined to over-share. During a breakup, individuals with this style may have a harder time letting go. You may try numerous ways to get your partner back. You might experience more distress compared to someone with a more secure attachment.  

How do avoidant attachment styles affect our relationships?

Individuals with an avoidant attachment style are more likely to avoid conflict with their partner. You may find that you often withdraw from your partner and emotionally shut down. Individuals with this style can sometimes find it difficult to support their partners and can feel uninvolved and uninterested. When forming relationships as someone with an avoidant attachment style, you may sometimes come across as emotionally unavailable and detached. During a breakup, individuals with an avoidant attachment may not know how to go about ending the relationship. You may find that you tend to avoid uncomfortable situations. You might dance around the topic of a break-up before it occurs. These individuals seem to experience less distress post-breakup. You are less likely to try getting back together with their ex-partner.

How can you boost security within your relationship?

Dr. K lets us know that increasing exposure to love, comfort, and connection through words, pictures, and affection builds security. Increasing a feeling of safety and confidence in the relationship is important. It can help relieve some of the insecurities your partner may be feeling. Maybe you will need to be cautious to make sure you’re not attacking one another during a conflict. Maybe you need to communicate to better understand your partners’ comfort level with boundaries. You may you need to build your comfort in terms of offering support in times of need. Learning and communicating about your style can help you better understand each other. It will help you to approach the relationship in a healthy way.  

Sometimes you might need help in this area, and that’s where couples therapy can come in handy! Therapy can get you on the same page of understanding each other’s goals. It can help you create a health foundation to moving forward. 

Contact Us

To find out more about couples therapy you and your partner contact our admin at Intentional Outcomes Counselling. Call us at (902) 445 3800; or email us at admin@intentionaloutcomes.com.

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