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Why Attachment Styles in Relationships Affect Your Love Life

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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.

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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

More by this author

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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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