If you have problems with your love life that seem to occur time and time again, you might have attachment issues that arise from your childhood.
To find out if you have attachment issues, first of all, you need to explore your childhood and your relationships with your parents.
No, we are not going into deep psychotherapy with you, but how you grew up and your experiences with your parents have been proven to shape your adult relationships.
Attachment theory was first coined by psychologist John Bowlby, who put forward the idea that it was a child’s first interactions with their primary caregiver (usually their parents) that had a huge influence on their later relationships.
If a child felt secure and loved it was likely it would go on to form healthy partnerships in adult life. If a child was ignored, abused or neglected in some way, it would grow up to have attachment issues in later life.
There are four different kinds of attachment patterns that arise from childhood experiences:
- Secure: These people typically had a good relationship with their parents and felt safe and secure whilst growing up.
- Anxious-preoccupied: Growing up as children where their needs were not met, now as adults they want to be loved but don’t think they are worth the attention and come across as needy.
- Dismissive-avoidant: These people do not need others to give them validation and are dismissive of everything to do with relationships and love.
- Fearful-avoidant: Fearful avoidants want to get close but are afraid of getting hurt in the process.
Any attachment style you acquire will be based on your relationship with your parent or primary caregiver and how they took care of you. Depending on which attachment type you are will decide what kind of attachment issues you will have.
Before you can work on changing your attachment issues you first need to find out which one you have.
Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Issues:
- Need constant reassurance
- Constantly blame others
- Extremely insecure
- Always preoccupied
People who have anxious-preoccupied attachment issues are desperate for safety and security because they did not receive it as a child. In this respect, they are looking for someone to save them, a kind of fantasy figure that will swoop down and rescue them.
They tend to cling to their partners and are desperately insecure but it is these very actions that push their partners away.
Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment Issues:
- Prefer less demanding partners
- Appear charming at first
- Focus on little imperfections
Anyone who has dismissive-avoidant attachments tends to be isolated and emotionally distant from their partners. They find it hard to be emotionally intimate and prefer to focus all their attention on themselves.
They have a tendency to want a lot of alone or ‘me’ time and think they can solve their own problems. They appear cold-hearted and can seem to be made of stone.
Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Issues:
- Masks their true feelings
- Low self-esteem
- Feels hollow inside
- Finds it hard to communicate feelings
This is a tricky place to be, one in which you are scared to be in a relationship but also fearful of being alone. As such, these individuals often find they are in dramatic relationships that are full of passion and roller-coaster rides where arguments and break-ups reign.
These people often cling to their partners but then feel enormously trapped when that same partner reciprocates that emotion. They are the most prone to ending up in a violent relationship because of this constant shifting of emotional behaviour.
Once you have learned which attachment issue you have you can then work towards forming secure attachments. This is achieved by choosing partners who already have a secure attachment style and/or attending therapy to understand why your childhood experiences impacted your adult relationships.
Once you begin to develop new attachment styles you will be able to form healthier relationships and put the past childhood maladaptive patterns to bed.