Little do you know but a huge part of your personality is being formed while you lie in bed as an infant. The way your parents or caretakers connect with you (or not) goes a long way in determining your attachment style. How you interact with others as an adult quite often was decided without your input. But there’s good news and we will get to that at the end.
First, let’s explore the concept of attachment theory and how it shapes your dating life. For starters, keep in mind that your childhood experiences can leave with you any of the following attachment styles: fearful-avoidant, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and secure.
Which Style Are You and Why?
In cases of fearful-avoidant, anxious-preoccupied, or dismissive-avoidant, your parent or caregiver may have been unreliable and neglectful. They ignored your needs, were unpredictable or erratic, and forced you to self-soothe. As a result, you now operate with any of the listed attachment styles when it comes to any type of personal connection.
On the other hand, someone with a secure attachment style almost certainly had engaged parents or caregivers. They calmed you, helped you feel safe, and communicated with you. This is not meant to criticize anyone’s parents. Rather, you must accept that not everyone is able to be as present and healthy as they need to be to prevent insecurity from developing.
How Attachment Styles Shape Your Dating Life
You might or might not appear to others as secure. But whether or not you come across as secure to others, inside you are simultaneously afraid of getting close and being too distant. This causes self-sabotaging behaviors. Such a person would do best with a partner who provides acceptance, stability, and emotional support.
You attach quickly to potential partners and lavish them with attention. At the same time, you ruminate about the meaning of every facial expression, text message, or passing comment. An anxious-preoccupied person needs constant reassurance and is often hard to calm and soothe.
You hide your insecurities well. Thus, your attachment style sometimes initially appears to be secure. Eventually, your partner — unless they are incredibly patient — may find you to be distant.
You speak openly and honestly and desire the same in return. You know your own worth, are self-sufficient, and get turned off by mixed messages. Ideally, of course, a secure person aligns well with other secure people but they can become the reliable presence that insecure people crave.
What If You and Your Partner Have Different Attachment Styles?
This is very common and it will cause times of incompatibility. Hence, it is ideal if you recognize these differences as early as possible. For some couples, this could be a sign that they aren’t matched for the long term. For others who feel more committed, being aware of different styles gives you time and motivation to work on it. After all, you want everyone to feel more secure — whether you are dating them or not. This brings us to the good news.
Yes, You Can Change Your Attachment Style
Learning about attachment styles is not just about making adjustments because you are not stuck with your attachment style. You didn’t ask for it and yes, you can change it. This is not simple work to accomplish but, with the help of an experienced therapist, you can join countless others and make the shift. Your sessions can include both you and your partner but individual therapy is also an excellent choice for this work.
In fact, you don’t have to wait until you’ve met someone. A single person who feels frustrated about their romantic life can get busy changing their attachment style in advance of their next opportunity. I’d love to tell you more about taking these essential steps for relationship counseling, feel free to contact me.