An individual who has insecure attachment is likely to have various problems in their romantic relationships. How to recognize if you have an insecure attachment style and stop it from ruining your relationships?
We are all genetically programmed to search for affection and care, and the people who offer us love become the most important part of our lives. In this way, a strong emotional bond, based on the instinct, called attachment, forms between two individuals.
The need to be close to someone is so important to us that the brain develops a whole biological mechanism responsible for creating and regulating the connection to the individuals with whom we form the attachment.
This mechanism includes emotions and behaviors that ensure that we remain protected and safe. Although we all have this fundamental need to develop attachment, the experiences since childhood and throughout life will define our attachment style.
Types of Attachment
John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, the founders of the attachment theory, identified four attachment styles:
- Dismissive-Avoidant (or Anxious-Avoidant)
- Anxious-Preoccupied (or Anxious-Resistant)
- Fearful-Avoidant (or Disorganized/Insecure)
The Fearful Avoidant (or Insecure) Attachment Style
An individual who “suffers” from insecure attachment is likely to have low self-esteem. As a result, they will always feel that it is necessary to check/ensure that everything is in order (at work, with friends, in relationships, etc.) and will seek external validation from others for whatever they do.
For this very reason, they are constantly stressed by any challenge that their friendships/relationships may encounter even if sometimes situations are not as bad as they look. Because of the predisposition to sensitivity, such persons in very few cases stand alone without being involved in a romantic relationship.
Additionally, they rush relationships and have no patience to create functional/healthy connections, thus most of the time they enter in relationships that prove to be abusive and traumatic.
These people have seen from the outside look very agitated and impulsive, worried and very difficult to deal with. They cannot trust people, which may explain why they hardly socialize.
Additional characteristics of an individual with insecure attachment include:
- Highly critical of those around.
- Mind-games in order to draw the attention of the partner.
- Afraid of commitment.
- The idealization of other relationships.
- Organizational difficulties.
- “Come here-Go away” attitude in the relationship.
- Personal desires are more important than the partner’s wishes.
- Poor communication skills.
- Avoid displaying emotions.
- Passive roles in relationships.
- Internalization of issues.
What Causes Someone to Develop an Insecure Attachment Style?
Psychologists claim that the attachment styles are highly influenced by the parents, more precisely the mother. The mother-child bond will set the foundation for the child’s future emotional mechanisms (i.e. emotions, behaviors, stability, empathic skills, etc.)
As such, an individual whose relationships are defined by an insecure attachment might have had a precarious affective connection with his/her mother.
In most cases, the mother was unable to satisfy the child’s needs or has been physical, mentally or emotionally the child. Thus, the child’s instinct tells him/her to flee but has no option – s/he has no place to run because his/her survival depends on the person who abused and hurt him/her. In this case, children often try to block traumatic experiences.
An additional factor is the unpredictability of parental behavior, so the child cannot understand when his/her needs will be satisfied or when s/he is going to be ignored again.
Adults who have been deprived of affection, develop an insecure attachment and are more likely to experience difficulty in emotional self-regulation, find it hard to seek help, tend to give up on themselves during stressful situations or react unpredictably. They also face difficulties in dealing with others.
It is hard for them to offer love and affection, and they are irresponsible and insensitive to the wishes and needs of their partner. They may have violent episodes of anger, abuse and neglect are often encountered.
It is difficult for them to trust others because of their childhood events that have made them see the world as a threatening place. Despite a great need for safety, it is difficult for them to establish stable relationships precisely because of this lack of trust and abusive behaviors.
How Does Insecure Attachment Affect Relationships?
Unlike individuals with a secure attachment developed in childhood, people with insecure attachment tend to be desperate to see. Instead of developing real love or trust in their partner, they often feel “emotional hunger“.
They are often looking for a partner to save or complement them. Although they are looking for a sense of security in their partner, they tend to keep their partners away. Even if individuals with this attachment act in a desperate or uncertain way, their behavior often exacerbates their own fears.
Unfortunately, a relationship with an individual who has an insecure attachment style can be tedious and complicated: the more the partner tries to get closer to, the more the insecure individual will get away.
Continuous and steady disconnection can make the significant other feel unappreciated, unloved so that unhappiness and criticism will grow, and the lack of emotional communication will make some conflicts even stronger, no matter how much one tries to avoid them.
In most cases, conflicts remain unresolved, because individuals with such attachment style find it difficult to deal with challenges or conflicts.
How to Adjust Your Attachment Style:
- Identify people with a secure attachment style and observes them: remember specific events that show exactly how they interact, what they say, how they react to what happens to them, how they behave when their partner is in an emotionally difficult situation.
- Choose from them the characteristics you want to develop or think that needs improvement.
- Identify how the attachment style affects your everyday thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in different relationships and situations.
- Make a list of your thoughts in certain situations and see what element of the situation makes you react and how.
- In case you cannot identify or adjust the negative aspects of your attachment, you can always seek professional support who can provide guidance and useful therapies.
Although making changes takes time, understanding the cause of your attachment and its effects on your social life can help you develop new behavioral and thinking patterns, which will automatically improve your connection with the world around you or your partner.