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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

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 February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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