What is your attachment style in a relationship?

Many of us find ourselves in relationships that keep repeating the same patterns of behaviour and we attract similar types of partners. This is attributed to us seeking our parents in partners, yes I know it is scary to say it, but it is true. We are conditioned by our parents, be it a good or bad experience, grow up, attract them, marry them and become them!

From parents to partners

If we consider that we are part of each parent and it is what we are familiar with or is known to us, therefore we seek the same in a partner - familiarity. We can also repeat our parent’s patterns of behaviours, which we can inherit from one generation to another. We are all conditioned for the first 16 years of our life by our parents, for most of us.

Once we can identify what these patterns of behaviours are, we can then choose, what we would like to keep about our traits and what we want to throw away, through the counselling journey.

Our early childhood experiences and the parenting style we have experienced will be indicative of our attachment style in relationships. I have divided out the four key attachments styles in a user-friendly way, nothing fits a 100% and we may relate to more than one, however, there will be the main style that we gravitate towards.

1. Secure

This is when we feel emotionally safe and build trusting relationships with ease in the majority of cases.  We are able to enjoy long-lasting relationships and get satisfaction from being with a partner and sharing our life with them with minimal insecurities.

2. Avoidant

This is when we do not always value our partner we are with, close relationships make us feel uncomfortable and exposed, creating feelings of frequent vulnerability. We find it hard to trust, therefore find it hard to be intimate with a partner on an emotional and physical level.

3. Ambivalent

This highlights that we have a huge fear of being abandoned by our partner, which then triggers emotions such as anxiety, also testing them to see if they will leave us and becoming needy of their attention, in the aim to be continually reassured.

4. Disorganized

This attachment style is where we find it difficult to cope in any relationship and we are frequently unable to contain our emotions. We may find ourselves not being able to connect with relationships on many levels, this creates a heightened fear of rejection, causing us to dissociate from others - ‘not be present/zone out’.

Creating new healthy patterns

Depending on what attachment style we connect with, then this will highlight what support if any, we would then benefit from, as all of us deserve to be in a loving healthy relationship. 

Some of us just need some support and space to work through the impact of childhood or past relationship experiences to be able to heal. We have the right not to let our past dictate our future, we can all make changes and we are good enough!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 3DZ
Written by Ann-Marie Masson, (BACP Registered Member)
Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 3DZ

I have spent the past 15 years working as a qualified Relate counsellor and trainer, specialising in working with relational issues. Along side of this, I have built up a successful practice practice working with couples, individuals, children and young people supporting them in improving their emotional and mental well-being.

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