Love is a beautiful and necessary thing. Finding your person to celebrate the important moments in life with is often a goal for many people. No one wants to be lonely. The journey to get there, however, can be quite the rollercoaster. Dating isn’t for the weak-hearted or weak-minded. Between ghosters, players, emotionally unavailable people, and clingers…there are a lot of personality types to manage in this practice of dating. Combine those with your own personality and personal approaches; you may have had a failed relationship or two. The idea of Attachment Theory can offer some insight into failures and successes.
Attachment Theory is a specific area of study involving the nature of attachment between people. The way you experience attachment with your parents/caregiver evolves into how you develop an attachment with a partner. While your attachment style is not the end-all for explaining your relationship habits, there are ways it influences whether or not it ends in failure or success. Experts in this field of study have classified four different attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and anxious-avoidant.
1. Secure Attachment
Those in the secure group are comfortable showing affection and interest in a partner. They also tend to be confident independently or alone and set boundaries with a partner.
2. Anxious Attachment
Anyone in the anxious group tends to be more stressed about dating. They are more insecure and require reassurance from their partner. Being alone can be rather uncomfortable and trigger negative emotions, which then leads to unhealthy relationships.
3. Avoidant Attachment
The avoidant group is comprised of your non-committers. They like their independence and could be uncomfortable with intimacy. Enjoying their independence and freedom, they may feel suffocated by the constraints of dating and a relationship.
4. Anxious-Avoidant Attachment
People in this group likely fear intimacy and commitment but also get turned off by someone trying to get too close to them. They may not have strong confidence in themselves nor know how to express emotions and feelings healthily. Or they might not want to.
They are more likely to be in abusive or toxic relationships. The sad truth is they don’t necessarily want to be alone like an avoidant, but they are too afraid to get hurt, so they shut that part out. It’s a difficult way to operate.
How These Types Interact
If you’re secure, you have confidence in most situations and know how to manage intimacy. You are able to provide reassurance for the anxious types or the space needed for avoidant types without spiraling about the situation.
It is more common for avoidant and anxious types to connect and try dating. While not the most productive or even healthy, the thought process behind it works. If you’re an avoidant type, you push away and avoid intimacy. An anxious type will have more tolerance for that and then go the extra mile to force you to open up—almost like a game of chasing the other person.
If you are an anxious-avoidant type, odds are you tend to date another anxious-avoidant type. These are messy, unpleasant, toxic, or even abusive relationships.
Attachment styles are formed and nurtured over the years into adulthood. They affect who you are attracted to, who you form bonds with, and who you choose to invest time in. Clearly, not all styles are the most healthy or productive, but no attachment style is completely static. They aren’t fate, and you can grow and heal.
Understanding your own attachment style can help you better explain your dating habits and can be key to personal growth. If you’re experiencing some woes in the dating world, schedule a consult, and let’s dive into some self-exploration.