The 4 attachment styles and their meaning
Have you ever noticed that you think and act a certain way in romantic relationships? Your attachment type can be the cause of this.
Attachment styles accompany us throughout life. The attachment type is characterized by different types of interaction and behavior in relationships. In early childhood, these attachment styles focus on how children and parents relate to each other. become in adulthood binding types used to describe the attachment patterns in romantic relationships. The concept of attachment styles evolved from attachment theory and research presented in the 1960s and 1970s came up. result from this four main binding styleswhich are still recognized by psychologists today.
Knowing your attachment style can help you get to know yourself better and healthy, long-term partnerships build up.
What is binding?
Bonding is a special, emotional relationship that involves the exchange of comfort, care, and joy, among other things. Even Freud’s theories about love dealt with attachment research. However, another person is considered to be the founder of attachment theory: John Bowlby. He shared the psychoanalytic view that early childhood experiences can influence development and behavior later in life. According to Bowlby, attachment styles are shaped as early as childhood by the relationship between infant and caregiver. In addition, he believed that binding was a evolutionary component has, which serves to survive.
According to Bowlby, there are characteristic Features of the bond. That’s them:
- Maintaining Proximity: The desire to be close to the people we are connected to.
- Safe haven: Returning to the attachment figure for comfort and security in the face of fear or threat.
- Secure base: The caregiver serves as a secure base from which the child can explore their surroundings.
- separation anxiety: Fears that arise in the absence of the caregiver.
Bowlby’s 3 theses on attachment theory
Bowlby poses three important theses to attachment theory. Here all at a glance.
- Children who have grown up knowing that their primary caregiver will be there for them live fearless as children who grow up without this belief.
- This confidence will be throughout the years as infant, toddler and teenager built up. The expectations that form during this period tend to remain relatively unchanged for the rest of life.
- Children develop expectations that their caregivers will be responsive to their needs because they have experienced that their caregivers have been responsive to them in the past. In other words: The expectations you form are directly linked to experiences.
Continuation by Mary Ainsworth
In the 1970s, the psychologist built Mary Ainsworth these assumptions of Bowlby further. In your “Strange Situation” study children aged 12 to 18 months were observed as they reacted to a situation in which they were briefly left alone and then reunited with their mother. In detail, the sequence looked as follows:
- Parent and child are alone in a room.
- The child explores the room under parental supervision.
- A stranger enters the room, talks to the parent and approaches the child.
- The caregiver leaves the room…
- … and then returns to comfort the child.
Some children explored and played freely when their mother was in the room, despaired when she left, and could then be reassured and comforted upon her return. These children were called securely bound designated.
Some children tended to avoid or ignore the mother even before she left and showed little emotion when she left the room and when she returned. Ainsworth and her colleagues hypothesized that this avoidance behavior masked their true distress, and some further research tracking the avoidant children’s heart rates supported this theory. These children were called insecure-avoidant designated.
Some children were already somewhat distressed before the mother left the room, but then showed significant distress and were difficult to calm when the mother returned. Researchers sometimes observed a desire to “punish” the mother for her departure by continuing to behave despite her relief at the mother’s return. These children were called insecure-ambivalent designated.
Some children displayed broadly inconsistent behaviors, including general aimlessness throughout the experiment, fear of, or even aggression towards, the caregiver. Sometimes they would exhibit these moments of out of place behavior and then fall into one of the other categories, or they were a mixture of several. These children were born with disorganized attachment classified.
What are the 4 bond types?
Numerous other studies have supported these conclusions, and further research has found that these early attachment styles may help predict behaviors later in life. However, some psychologists criticize attachment theory. They think it is more likely that parent-child attachment styles and romantic relationship attachment styles are moderately related. What are they characterized by four attachment styles each from?
- Insecure-avoidant attachment: Avoidant, dismissive-avoidant, or fearful-avoidant are all terms for the same insecure attachment style. It is characterized by the inability to establish long-term relationships with other people because those affected are unable to allow physical and emotional closeness. You are afraid of commitment. This can result from a strict or emotionally distant upbringing and absent caregivers.
- Secure Binding: Secure attachment style refers to the ability to form secure, loving relationships with others. Affected people are able to trust others, love, accept love, and get close to others with relative ease. They are not afraid of intimacy, nor do they panic when their partners need time or distance from them. You are able to rely on others without becoming totally dependent.
- Insecure-ambivalent attachment: The insecure-ambivalent attachment style — also known as anxious-ambivalent or anxious-concerned — is another form of insecure attachment. This type of attachment develops when children have difficulty understanding their caregivers and do not feel secure about what to expect from them. People with an insecure-ambivalent attachment style tend to be very insecure in their relationships. You are afraid of loss and are therefore always looking for confirmation.
- Disorganized attachment: Anxious-disorganized attachment is defined as extremely inconsistent behavior and difficulty trusting others. The most common causes of a disorganized attachment style are childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. There is also fear of parents. People with a disorganized attachment both desperately crave affection and want to avoid it at all costs. You are reluctant to enter into a romantic relationship but at the same time have a need to feel loved by others.
Can you change the binding style?
With a lot of work and patience it is possible to change the attachment style. External support can be particularly helpful. For example in the form of depth psychological therapy. These tips can also help you.
- Identify your relationship pattern. For this you can think of your relationship with your parents as a child. Ask yourself questions like: How did my parents treat me? How did I react to them? To whom have I gone for comfort? Assess your current and past attachment styles and determine if there are any patterns in your choice of romantic partners.
- Work on your self-esteem. Low self-esteem is a common trait of all insecure attachment styles. First, learn to accept, appreciate, love, and care for yourself. Sometimes we can lose this self-love in life. For example, because we were neglected or rejected as children. But we can regain this love for ourselves. Learn more here: Boosting Self-Esteem and Boosting Self-Confidence.
- Get in touch with your needs. At the end of the day, most people who are prone to insecure relationships have deep fears. Fears that their relationships will not work. That’s why it’s important to figure out how to make yourself feel more secure in your relationships. This also includes being clear about your needs and desires in a relationship.
What is the unhealthiest attachment style?
The insecure-avoidant attachment style is often considered the most difficult and is the attachment style most commonly associated with psychological and relationship issues. All three insecure attachment styles (avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized) however, are prone to relationship problems in their own way. The secure attachment is often seen as the healthy ideal to strive for in a relationship. But it is also important to know that we can have different attachment styles in different situations. So it’s possible to carry a primary attachment style within us, but depending on the relationship, we feel more secure with one person than another. The personality of the other person and the feeling of security contribute to this.
- “Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation”, mindsplain.com2015
- “Secure Base: Clinical Applications of Attachment Theory”, traumatys.com1988
- “Adult attachment, stress, and romantic relationships”, sciencedirect.com2017
- “Adult Attachment Theory and Research” labs.psychology.illinois.edu2018