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  • Writer's pictureDr. Leyla Gulcur, Ph.D.

How Does Your Attachment Style Impact Your Relationships?

attachment styles

When it comes to relationships, understanding the role of attachment styles can be key to developing and maintaining a healthy connection with your partner. Attachment styles are the psychological way that people approach relationships, and are based on how we were treated in our earliest relationships with caregivers.

An individual’s attachment style can have a profound impact on their relationships, both romantic and platonic. Our attachment style is established in childhood and can be a powerful predictor of how we behave in our intimate relationships as adults. Understanding our attachment style can provide insight into our behaviors in relationships, as well as help us to better understand our partners' attachment style.

There are three primary attachment styles: secure, anxious, and avoidant. Securely attached individuals are comfortable with closeness and intimacy, and view relationships as safe and supportive. They are trusting and confident in themselves, and don’t worry that their partner will abandon them. Those with an anxious attachment style are often preoccupied with their relationships, worrying that their partner may not care about them, or are not as available and responsive to them as they would like. And, they may doubt the security of their relationship. Finally, those with an avoidant attachment style tend to be uncomfortable with closeness and intimacy. They may seem detached and aloof, and may at times avoid getting too close to their partner.

When two individuals in a relationship have different attachment styles, it can be difficult to find a balance. The securely attached individual may feel frustrated with their partner’s neediness or detachment, while the anxious or avoidant partner may feel overwhelmed by their partner’s expectations or fear abandonment. To create a healthy relationship, both partners must be willing to understand and respect the other’s attachment style. They should strive to create a safe environment where each can be open and honest about their needs and feelings.

By understanding our own and our partner’s attachment styles, we can better navigate our relationships. Having an awareness of our attachment styles can help us to better understand our behaviors in relationships, as well as provide insight into our partner’s needs and feelings.

The good news is that attachment styles can change and, over time, an individual with either anxious or avoidant style can develop a secure attachment style. This can happen either through personal work on oneself or through therapy with a therapist who understands and can work with different attachment styles.

To find out what your attachment style is, here is a link to a test you can take:

For a more in-depth exploration of attachment styles and how they impact relationships, I highly recommend Sue Johnson's book Hold Me Tight

Sue Johnson attachment styles

Ultimately, it is possible to create and maintain healthy and fulfilling relationships no matter what your childhood experiences with your caregivers were.


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