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How Understanding the Three Attachment Styles Can Help You Navigate Healthy Relationships

Do you find that your romantic relationships fall into predictable patterns, with familiar issues plaguing each one?

Perhaps jealousy, power struggles, fear of losing independence, or inability to stand up for yourself are themes that emerge year after year with different partners. Maybe one or more of these themes is an unchangeable reality in a marriage or long-term relationship. If so, you may benefit from learning a bit about the three different “attachment styles” that shape our personalities and guide how we conduct ourselves in relationships. Self-awareness in your patterns of attachment can help you find the right partner, and also resolve conflicts and increase mutual understanding with your current partner.

Anxious Attached Partner

Consider this scenario: you are in a seemingly happy, stable relationship, enjoying each other’s company and tending to each other’s needs. Your partner offers daily words of affirmation, telling you they love you and want to be with you. And yet, you can’t shake the feeling that your relationship is on the precipice, that any day your partner will find someone much more suitable for them. Maybe they’ll just discover the “real” you and realize they can do better. If this is a familiar thought pattern, you may exhibit symptoms of the anxious attachment style.

People with a predominantly anxious attachment style represent about 25% of the world. They approach their relationships with worry and preoccupation, waiting by the phone and jumping to the worst conclusions when the call doesn’t arrive. They can be tremendously loyal, but also their fears can jeopardize the relationship by never allowing it to settle and exist comfortably. Partners with an anxious attachment style also often act from a place of scarcity, keeping unhappy relationships going much too long for fear of never finding another or ending up alone.

Avoidant Attachment Relationship

Now consider this scenario: you’ve just begun dating someone new, and there’s a lot of chemistry. You’ve cooked dinner together a few times and even went on a weekend trip to the mountains. Their mom is visiting town and they suggest you all go out to dinner together. You are upset and even a little angry—how could they presume that things had gotten that close and that you were even ready for a family-meeting moment?

If this is a familiar thought pattern, you may exhibit symptoms of the avoidant attachment style. People with a predominantly avoidant attachment style represent about 25% of the world as well, so it is understandable why you or your partner may be experiencing these feelings in a relationship. In extreme cases, they consider relationships to be a potential drain on their independence and will retreat at the first signs of discomfort. Another common manifestation is the quest for a perfect partner and perennial frustration with the failure of romantic prospects to live up to that ideal—when in fact the ideal is a distancing strategy. People with avoidant attachments tendencies are over-represented in the dating pool because they don’t typically find themselves in long-term relationships. 

Secure Attachment Style

The third and final attachment style requires the least analysis. Yes, attachment styles can be healthy for a relationship in some cases. People with a secure attachment style are comfortable with intimacy, view relationships as a source of strength while maintaining a solid sense of self, and can manage regular relationship conflict without feeling excessively threatened or considering break-up. We all have something to learn from the secure attachment style, and can use those lessons to find and keep love.

Relationship and Couples Treatment in Beverly Hills, Irvine, and Newport Beach

Here at Blair Wellness Group, we’re devoted to your work in building secure, loving relationships. The principles of adult attachment apply to romantic relationships, intimate friendships, and family relationships alike, and can help you learn more about your own patterns, strengths, and pitfalls. 

If you feel ready to make important changes in your life and seek psychological services, we are here to support and guide you through every step. Remember that you can’t plant a seed and expect a garden in the morning—the practice of self-care and emotional discovery requires patience, open-mindedness, and dedication. But like any practice, you will see progress and change over time, and the garden of a rewarding, fulfilling, beautiful life is achievable for everyone. If now is the time for you to take steps along that journey, give us a call or email us today  to begin getting treatment and feeling more secure in your relationships.  

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