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Why Attachment Styles in Relationships Affect Your Love Life

Why Attachment Styles in Relationships Affect Your Love Life

Do you feel like you are always having issues in your love life and you don’t know what to do about it? If so, you should really examine yourself and your attachment style. Attachment styles in relationships play an important role in your love life.

What is an attachment style and how exactly can it affect your relationships?

Basically, it’s a scientific explanation for how and why you emotionally attach to other people (or don’t). And, it all starts in your childhood.

In this article, we will look into the different types of attachment styles, how they affect your relationships, and what you can do to lead a healthy relationship.

How Does Your Attachment Style Develop?

Believe it or not, it all starts in infancy. It is a condition where an infant or young child does – or does not – have healthy attachments to their parents or caregivers.

For example, if a child’s basic needs aren’t met, such as comfort, affection, and nurturing, it will negatively affect their relationships later in life. It is vital for a child to have their emotional and physical needs consistently met. When a baby cries, they are signaling to the caregiver that they are hungry or that their diaper needs changed. If they are ignored, it affects the human being on a subconscious level.

Most parents meet this need with some sort of emotional exchange such as looking into the baby’s eyes, holding them, smiling, caressing, or talking to them. But for some people, this is not what happened to them, and thus, they lack the ability to attach to other people.

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If a child is not getting their emotional needs met, certain signs and symptoms can be exhibited by young children. They include some of the following: unexplained withdrawal, fear, irritability, sadness, failure to smile, not reaching out for touch, and no interest in playing interactive games.

When these needs are ignored or met with a lack of emotional response from the caregiver, it sets the stage for problems with relationships later in life.

Types of Attachment Styles and How They Affect Your Love Life

This may be the first time you are hearing of this phenomenon called attachment styles. But researchers have done many studies about how people emotionally attach (or detach) themselves from other people, and they categorized into the following:

1. Secure Attachment Style

People with the secure attachment style are the ones who feel confident in themselves and aren’t afraid to emotionally attach to other people (or have others attach to them). Typically, these people were raised in loving homes by parents who were dependable and satisfied their emotional needs.

As a result, the person grows up trusting other people and sees mostly advantages to getting emotionally close to other people. They find it fulfilling, and they tend to have pretty healthy relationships because of it. Since their emotional needs were met by their caregivers early in life, they tend to trust people and have higher self-esteem.

Because of this, they do not chase after people, nor do they run away from them (or emotional intimacy). They don’t see a need for either of these. Instead, their attitude is, “I am a worthy person. I deserve love. And if you don’t want to give it to me, then I will find someone else who will.”

2. Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style

If someone has the anxious-preoccupied attachment style, they tend to feel “needy” in relationships. They might fear that other people will abandon them, cheat on them, or simply not love them. Their self-esteem isn’t particularly high.

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They become this way, of course, because of their parents as well. Their caregivers were not trustworthy or dependable. Therefore, they grow up to think that people may not love them, so they always feel the need to be the “chaser” in a relationship.

These are the people who could become known as “clingers.” They have the tendency to emotionally (or physically) smother their partner because of their anxiety. As a result, their partner may pull away from them. And this, in return, makes the person even more anxious.

As you can see, this style can pose some significant challenges in relationships later in life. If they are coupled with a secure attacher, then they will probably feel scared because their partner doesn’t understand why they need constant attention. And if they are with the dismissive-avoidant type of person (read below), things could be even worse for reasons that will be clear once you read that description.

3. Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment Style

The dismissive-avoidant attachment style is almost the opposite of people with the anxious-preoccupied attachment style. Instead of being the “chaser” in a relationship, they are the “runner.” They try to avoid attachment and are uncomfortable being emotionally close to anyone.

The parents of these types of people were also not dependable and didn’t meet their children’s emotional needs. As a result, they expect that people will not always be there for them, so in order to protect themselves, they avoid emotionally attaching to people so they will stay safe from pain and hurt feelings.

As you might expect, having a relationship between a “chaser” (anxious-preoccupied) and a “runner” (dismissive-avoidant) can be a train wreck. One is always trying to get attention, affection, and love; and the other is trying to run away from that. This is not a good dynamic at all.

Secure-attachers also have a problem with dismissive-avoidants. They don’t understand why they have a need to avoid intimacy, since they are completely comfortable with it.

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So, as you can see, this style will encounter some problems in their relationships later in life.

The Most Severe Type: Reactive Attachment Disorder

The effects of being severely emotionally neglected by your caregiver can result in an extreme attachment disorder called Reactive Attachment Disorder. And, the long-term effects in adulthood can be significant.

RAD causes people to have an inability to fully experience relationships because they don’t have a positive sense of self. In addition, their overall mental health could be compromised. They often have dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Because of these negative feelings, adults with RAD might have trouble adjusting in many areas of their lives, not just relationships. The disorder causes low self-esteem, and they don’t believe in themselves or their ability to live a good life. This is especially true if someone has not received any treatment for it.

But how do you really know if you (or your partner) has it? Well, here are some typical signs and symptoms. Take a look and see if you (or they) fit into these categories:

  1. Detachment
  2. Control Issues
  3. Inability to show affection
  4. Lack of sense of belonging
  5. Impulsivity
  6. Sense of distrust
  7. Withdrawal from connections
  8. Anger problems
  9. Inability to create and maintain relationships of all kinds
  10. Feelings of loneliness or emptiness
  11. Inability to understand emotions
  12. Craving love, but an inability to give or receive it
  13. Little emotional investment
  14. Lack of emotional support
  15. Reluctance to share or self-disclose
  16. Avoidance of physical intimacy
  17. Lack of empathy
  18. Lack of remorse

Even if you think you or your partner may have RAD, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Obviously, these symptoms cause a person’s stress, but there are ways to treat the disorder.

Tips to Follow to Improve Your Attachment Style

If you think that your attachment style is causing problems in your relationships, don’t worry. There are ways you can control your issues so they don’t come roaring out while you are on a date or in a relationship.

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1. Take Baby Steps

Don’t expect to change overnight. You have spent a whole lifetime being like this, so changing some of your issues will take time.

Be patient with yourself but also stay mindful of your behavior and feelings at all times.

2. Communicate with Your Dates or Partners

After you get to know your date or partner a little, you might want to talk about your attachment style.

You don’t have to go into a lot of detail, but just let them know that your behaviors aren’t about them, but rather about you. So, they shouldn’t take it personally. Also, ask them about theirs.

3. Seek Professional Help

It’s really difficult to solve all your emotional issues by yourself. A lot of people think that seeing a therapist shows weakness, but actually, it shows strength. Here’s why asking for help is a sign of strength.

You would be surprised how helpful a professional would be in getting over your attachment problems.

Final Thoughts

If you think that your attachment style is causing problems in your love life, then you should take some action. Call a therapist or set up a session with a dating coach.

You can and will overcome your attachment issues, but only if you start to work on yourself. So why not start today? You’ll be happy you did.

More About Attachment Styles in Relationships

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/JAQK2mwLCF0 via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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