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Identify Your Attachment Style and Find Someone Who Fits Yours

Identify Your Attachment Style and Find Someone Who Fits Yours

Ever heard of attachment theory? It’s the theory that explains what kind of attachment we form in our adult relationships, particularly with our romantic partners.

Some relationships have compatible attachment styles. Others are not so lucky. When you end up dating somebody with a different attachment style, it can lead to all kinds of conflict in the relationship. One of these conflicts could be about time. For example, attachment theory explains that some people expect to spend all of their free time with their partners. Other people, however, neither want nor need to spend so much time with their partners. This difference can cause a struggle between two people as they try to agree on how much time to invest in the relationship.

Changing your attachment style is a long and difficult process.

You can definitely try to change your particular attachment style, but that’s a really long and difficult process. According to attachment theory, we develop our attachment style when we are small children. It’s usually based on the relationship we had with our parents.

Instead, we’re going to talk about the different types of attachment styles and which combinations are better for relationships. If you can identify your exact attachment style, you can find a partner who fits your needs. This, of course, is the ideal situation. If you’re already in a relationship, however, and your attachment combination isn’t so good, don’t worry! There’s still hope for you and your significant other.

Four attachment styles.

Attachment theory identifies 4 types of attachment styles:

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Secure – You tend to feel secure and close to your partner, while still respecting each person’s independence.

Insecure Anxious – You tend to feel unhappy in your relationships and sometimes act possessive of your partner. You worry a lot that you will lose your significant other, who you depend on for your happiness.

Insecure Avoidant – You tend to put distance between yourself and your partner, doing everything possible to avoid an emotional connection. Your partner may feel that you are not concerned with the relationship.

Insecure Disorganized – You have difficulty trusting other people and experience a variety of fears, including: getting too close to your partner or being too distant. Your emotions tend to change quickly, which keeps you in a constant state of confusion.

Each attachment combination has a different outlook for the relationship.

Positive Outlook

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    If either person has a secure attachment style, then the relationship has a positive outlook. Attachment theory tells us that the person with a secure attachment style is able to validate their partner’s concerns. They can even help their less secure partner overcome their insecurities.

    Challenging Outlook

      The anxious + anxious combination is challenging. People with this attachment style are able to read small changes in emotion and behavior. This perceptive ability combined with their anxious insecurity results in jumping to conclusions.[1] In short, two insecure anxious people have the potential to experience a relationship full of drama, jealousy, and arguments. The same happens for the insecure disorganized + insecure disorganized combination.

      When an avoidant one pairs up with another avoidant one, there’ll be little communication, which may seem to be fine at the beginning as both aren’t demanding. But as time goes by the connection will become weaker and it’s hard to sustain the relationship.

      Toxic Combination

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        If the two attachment styles are anxious and avoidant, things are going to be difficult. You should probably mentally prepare yourself for the kind of issues that this combination might bring to your life. If you’re thinking about getting into this romance, think again.

        Interestingly, these two types of attachment are often drawn together. That’s because they almost complement each other. An anxious person has fear of losing their partner and so they wait for the avoidant person to decide to commit to the relationship. This combination validates the avoidant person’s behavior.[2]

        As insecure disorganized style is a combination of the anxious type and the avoidant type, when the anxious side comes up, it’ll be a disaster with the avoidant type. When the avoidant side comes up, conflicts will arise with the anxious type. That’s why both insecure disorganized + insecure avoidant and insecure disorganized+ insecure anxious are not likely to work.

        Be honest with yourself to identify your attachment style.

        In order to find someone who fits your attachment style, you must first identify it. Think about the way you react to the things your partner does.

        If they tell you they’ll call at 6:00 pm and they don’t call until 6:30 pm, do you spend that half hour worrying what could have possibly gone wrong? Do you start feeling vulnerable or thinking you’ve probably been abandoned? Be honest with yourself, you’ve probably been known to pout or start arguments with your partner. Sound familiar? You’re probably an insecure anxious type.

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        Think about how you feel after you spend a lot of time with your significant other. Do you need some time to yourself? Or maybe you feel like being in a long term relationship means you’ll lose your identity or independence. If this sounds like you, you could be have an insecure avoidant attachment type.

        Observe your partner’s behavior to find out their attachment style.

        It may seem more difficult to identify your significant other’s attachment style, but it’s not impossible. You might not know exactly how they feel internally, but you can observe their behaviors. Think about how they react to your concerns. If you’ve had a bad day and you come home talking about it, what do they say? Do you feel ignored, like they just aren’t interested? They might have an insecure avoidant attachment style.

        What happens when you’re running late to a date? If they start sending texts after only 3 minutes to ask if you’re still coming, they might be an anxious type.

        No relationship is perfect and certainly no relationship is bound to fail just because of attachment styles. By understanding your person attachment style and that of your partner’s, though, you can make real progress toward ensuring your future happiness together.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Amber Pariona

        EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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        Last Updated on October 30, 2019

        How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

        How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

        Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

        In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

        Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

        You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

        What is the Stages of Change Model?

        Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

        Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

        Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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          The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

          The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

          The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

          The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

          1. Precontemplation
          2. Contemplation
          3. Determination
          4. Action
          5. Maintenance
          6. Termination

          How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

          To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

            Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

            Stage 1: Precontemplation

            At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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            For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

            Stage 2: Contemplation

            At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

            You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

            The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

            Stage 3: Preparation

            At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

            Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

            Stage 4: Action

            When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

            Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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            Stage 5: Maintenance

            After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

            Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

            Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

            Stage 6: Termination

            Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

            However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

            How long does each stage take?

            You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

            So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

            The limitations of this model

            The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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            Require the ability to set a realistic goal

            For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

            If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

            Difficult to judge your progress

            The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

            Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

            Conclusion

            The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

            While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

            Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
            [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
            [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
            [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
            [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
            [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
            [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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