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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 November 26, 2020

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

How Relationships Building Helps Achieve Career Success

As playwright Wilson Mizner supposedly said all the way back in the 1930s,

“Be kind to everyone on the way up; you will meet the same people on the way down.”

The adage is the perfect prototype for relationship building in 2020, although we may want to expand Mizner’s definition of “kind” to include being helpful, respectful, grateful, and above all, crediting your colleagues along the way.

5 Ways to Switch on Your Relationship Building Magnetism

Relationship building does not come easily to all. Today’s computer culture makes us more insular and less likely to reach out—not to mention our new work-from-home situation in which we are only able to interact virtually. Still, relationship building remains an important part of career engagement and success, and it gets better with practice.

Here are five ways you can strengthen your relationships:

1. Advocate for Other’s Ideas

Take the initiative to speak up in support of other team members’ good ideas. Doing so lets others know that the team’s success takes precedence over your needs for personal success. Get behind any colleague’s innovative approach or clever solution and offer whatever help you can give to see it through. Teammates will value your vote of confidence and your support.

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2. Show Compassion

If you learn that someone whom you work with has encountered difficult times, reach out. If it’s not someone you know well, a hand-written card expressing your sympathy and hopes for better times ahead could be an initial gesture. If it’s someone with whom you interact regularly, the act could involve offering to take on some of the person’s work to provide a needed reprieve or even bringing in a home-cooked dish as a way to offer comfort. The show of compassion will not go unnoticed, and your relationship building will have found a foothold.

3. Communicate Regularly

Make an effort to share any information with team members that will help them do their jobs more effectively. Keeping people in the loop says a lot about your consideration for what others need to deliver their best results.

Try to discover the preferred mode of communication for each team member. Some people are fine relying on emails; others like to have a phone conversation. And once we can finally return to working together in offices, you may determine that face-to-face updates may be most advantageous for some members.

4. Ask for Feedback

Showing your willingness to reach out for advice and guidance will make a positive impression on your boss. When you make it clear that you welcome and can accept pointers, you display candor and trust in what opinions your superior has to offer. Your proclivity towards considering ways of improving your performance and strengthening any working interactions will signal your strong relationship skills.

If you are in a work environment where you are asked to give feedback, be generous and compassionate. That does not mean being wishy-washy. Try always to give the type of feedback that you wouldn’t mind receiving.

5. Give Credit Where It’s Due

Be the worker who remembers to credit staffers with their contributions. It’s a surprisingly rare talent to credit others, but when you do so, they will remember to credit you, and the collective credit your team will accrue will be well worth the effort.

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How Does Relationship Building Build Careers?

Once you have strengthened and deepened your relationships, here are some of the great benefits:

Work Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Work

According to a Gallup poll, when you have a best friend at work, you are more likely to feel engaged with your job. Work is more fun when you have positive, productive relationships with your colleagues. Instead of spending time and energy overcoming difficult personalities, you can spend time enjoying the camaraderie with colleagues as you work congenially on projects together. When your coworkers are your friends, time goes by quickly and challenges don’t weigh as heavily.

You Can Find Good Help

It’s easier to ask for assistance when you have a good working relationship with a colleague. And with office tasks changing at the speed of technology, chances are that you are going to need some help acclimating—especially now that work has gone remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of relationship building rests on your genuine expressions of appreciation toward others. Showing gratitude for another’s help or for their willingness to put in the extra effort will let them know you value them.

Mentors Come Out of the Woodwork

Mentors are proven to advance your professional and career development. A mentor can help you navigate how to approach your work and keep you apprised of industry trends. They have a plethora of experience to draw from that can be invaluable when advising you on achieving career success and advancement.

Mentors flock to those who are skilled at relationship building. So, work on your relationships and keep your eyes peeled for a worthy mentor.

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You Pull Together as a Team

Great teamwork starts with having an “abundance mentality” rather than a scarcity mentality. Too often, workers view all projects through a scarcity mentality lens. This leads to office strife as coworkers compete for their piece of the pie. But in an abundance mentality mode, you focus on the strengths that others bring rather than the possibility that they are potential competitors.

Instead, you can commit relationship building efforts to ensure a positive work environment rather than an adversarial one. When you let others know that you intend to support their efforts and contribute to their success, they will respond in kind. Go, team!

Your Network Expands and So Does Your Paycheck

Expand your relationship building scope beyond your coworkers to include customers, suppliers, and other industry stakeholders. Your extra efforts can lead to extra sales, a more rewarding career, and even speedy professional advancement. And don’t overlook the importance of building warm relationships with assistants, receptionists, or even interns.

Take care to build bridges, not just to your boss and your boss’s boss but with those that work under you as well. You may find that someone who you wouldn’t expect will put in a good word for you with your supervisor.

Building and maintaining good working relationships with everyone you come in contact with can pay off in unforeseen ways. You never know when that underling will turn out to be the company’s “golden child.” Six years from now you may be turning to them for a job. If you have built up a good, trusting work relationship with others along your way, you will more likely be considered for positions that any of these people may be looking to fill.

Your Job Won’t Stress You Out

Study shows that some 83 percent of American workers experience work-related stress.[1] Granted, some of that stress is now likely caused by the new pandemic-triggered workplace adjustments, yet bosses and management, in general, are reportedly the predominant source of stress for more than one-third of workers.

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Having meaningful connections among coworkers is the best way to make work less stressful. Whether it is having others whom to commiserate with, bounce ideas off, or bring out your best performance, friendships strengthen the group’s esprit de corps and lower the stress level of your job.

Your Career Shines Bright

Who would you feel better about approaching to provide a recommendation or ask for promotion: a cold, aloof boss with whom you have only an impersonal relationship or one that knows you as a person and with whom you have built a warm, trusting relationship?

Your career advancement will always excel when you have a mutual bond of friendship and appreciation with those who can recommend you. Consider the plug you could receive from a supervisor who knows you as a friend versus one who remains detached and only notices you in terms of your ability to meet deadlines or attain goals.

When people fully know your skills, strengths, personality, and aspirations, you have promoters who will sing your praises with any opportunity for advancement.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it is “who you know” not “what you know.” When you build relationships, you build a pipeline of colleagues, work partners, team members, current bosses, and former bosses who want to help you—who want to see you succeed.

At its core, every business is a people business. Making a point to take the small but meaningful actions that build the foundation of a good relationship can be instrumental in cultivating better relationships at work.

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Featured photo credit: Adam Winger via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The American Institute of Stress: 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics

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