The Key to Finding Love
In the two preceding posts, we discussed codependent and interdependent relationships. While performing my research for those posts, I came across another psychological theory that defines attachment styles, and something dawned on me. Understanding attachment styles could be the key to finding love. And the key to stopping codependent behaviors.
So I’m going to attempt to solve one of the biggest struggles people face in a short post. Shouldn’t be a problem right? Let’s get into it!
What Are Attachment Styles?
As the name suggests, they are the ways that you attach (or don’t attach) yourself to other people. The “styles” are a set of learned behaviors that you bring into a relationship and are passed down from generation to generation. Meaning, you will probably inherit your style from one of your parents because that is typically the first person you attach to.
The attachment style theory was first introduced by John Bowlby, a psychoanalyst, in the ‘40s. Then in 1970, Mary Ainsworth, a psychologist, identified the three commonly known attachment styles — secure, avoidant, and anxious. Later, in 1990, Mary Main and Judith Solomon, added a fourth style — disorganized.
As far as I can tell, the studies these theories were based on all centered around the mother/child bond. That’s because the ways in which children attach to their mothers carries into all of their relationships unless they are self-aware enough to change their patterns of behavior.
Why is Understanding the Styles THE KEY to Finding Love?
Two reasons . . .
First, by understanding your own attachment style, you can decide if it is a style you are willing to live with. You may find that there are some behavioral patterns you want to change. And you’ll also figure out which of your behavioral patterns are healthy. These discoveries will lead to a higher level of self-esteem, and, as we learned in the interdependent relationship post, self-esteem is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship.
Second, by understanding all of the attachment styles, you will be able to identify which style applies to whomever you are trying to connect with. You will be able to empathize with that person, which will foster a deeper connection. And ultimately, you will be able to decide if their style and your style are compatible. In other words, are you willing to accept the way the other person is attaching to you?
This is key because if you’re not willing to accept the other person’s style and that person is not willing to change their behavior patterns, you are fighting a losing battle. Even if you do find love, it will not be the healthy kind of love that you need and deserve.
Underlying Dimensions of the Attachment Styles
Before we get into the styles, let’s quickly go through the three underlying dimensions:
- Closeness – How comfortable are you being emotionally close and intimate with others?
- Dependence/Avoidance – How comfortable are you depending on others and having them depend on you?
- Anxiety – How much do you worry about people abandoning or rejecting you?
The way you answer these questions will determine:
- How you perceive and deal with intimacy
- Your ability to communicate
- How you respond to conflict
- Your expectations of the other person and the relationship
All of these factors influence the attachment style that you exhibit.
The 4 Attachment Styles
Based on a post published by Evergreen Psychotherapy Center
Let’s compare and contrast the 4 styles.
#1 – Autonomous (Secure)
- Closeness: Comfortable being emotionally close with people.
- Dependence: Okay with depending on others and being depended upon.
- Anxiety: Can accept another person’s independence without feeling rejected or threatened.
- Communication: Honest and open.
- Emotions: Manage emotions well.
- Past relationships: Can resolve issues and hurts and can forgive.
#2 – Dismissive (Avoidant)
- Closeness: Emotionally distant and keep partners at arm’s length.
- Dependence: Not able to depend on others or be depended upon, compulsively self-sufficient.
- Anxiety: Can be threatened by the loss of independence because independence is a priority for them.
- Communication: Intellectual, not emotional, and avoid conflict until they finally explode.
- Emotions: Narrow emotional range; typically calm and controlled.
- Past relationships: Avoid resolving issues and hurts.
#3 – Preoccupied (Anxious)
- Closeness: Needy and require ongoing reassurance, which scares some partners away.
- Dependence: Connect through conflict or “stirring the pot.”
- Anxiety: Constantly worried about rejection and abandonment.
- Communication: Unaware of their own responsibilities so they blame others.
- Emotions: Highly emotional; can be argumentative, combative, or controlling.
- Past relationships: Ruminate about unresolved past issues.
#4 – Unresolved (Disorganized)
- Closeness: Cannot tolerate emotional closeness, typically because of prior traumas.
- Dependence: Dissociate to avoid pain.
- Anxiety: Experience intrusive and frightening traumatic memories and triggers.
- Communication: Antisocial with a lack of empathy; can be aggressive, punitive, or narcissistic.
- Emotions: Unable to regulate emotions.
- Past relationships: Do not mourn or resolve issues and hurts.
Which Style Do You Identify With?
Of course, there’s bound to be some overlap; I don’t think you’re necessarily 100% one style or another. You can follow the links below to learn more about each style.
Then Deliberately Think about the style of the person you are trying to connect with. Is this a style that you are willing to accept?
Answering these questions may just lead you to finding love! Or to stopping codependent behaviors!
Another step you may need to take before you can find love is to name your core values. I would love to help you do that; just click here!
Tell me in the comments . . . what would you add to the conversation? Do you relate to any of these styles? Any behaviors you would like to change in yourself? Your email address will not be shown to anyone but me, and you can enter a user name if you prefer.
Click here for more posts with a “deeper connection” theme.
Wishing you all the best, and until next time. . . STAY CURIOUS!
Only Have 1 Minute
What Is Your Attachment Style?, by The School of Life, posted to YouTube 9.20.18
What is Your Attachment Style?, by PsychAlive
Four styles of adult attachment, Terry Levy, Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, 5.25.17
Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, Saul McLeod, Simply Psychology, updated 2017
Mary Ainsworth, SaulMcLeod, Simply Psychology, updated 2018