By ALYCIA CHUNG
Notice yourself engaging in the same unhealthy patterns in relationships and don’t know why?
Maybe you fall hard and fast but then get terrified that your partner might leave. Or, you like the “thrill of the chase” but then feel smothered and trapped when the object of your affection likes you back or things get too serious. Maybe you have no interest in relationships at all.
If any of this sounds like you, attachment theory might be the key to breaking through your relationship rut.
What are attachment styles and why do I need to know about them?
An attachment style is the particular way you connect with other people and is strongly shaped by your early interactions with your parents or caregivers. Once formed, it stays with you and guides the way you think and behave in relationships. Learning more about your attachment style helps you pick healthier partners and provides direction on ways to strengthen existing relationships.
The 4 main attachment styles:
• Secure: What we aim for. Naturally warm and loving. Desires closeness and can trust fairly easily.
• Anxious: Gets attached quickly but fears getting rejected/abandoned. Very sensitive to changes in their partner and assume the worst.
• Anxious-Avoidant: Desires connection but feels smothered by too much closeness. Worries that they will lose their independence or that others want too much from them. Tends to be overly critical of their partners.
• Avoidant/ Dismissive: Self-reliant, doesn’t desire connection and is emotionally disconnected
If you are not securely attached, you can become more so by either choosing a partner who is secure, or working with your existing partner to explore and change unhelpful dynamics. It’s possible to create a secure relationship even if the individuals within it are insecurely attached.
• Take this attachment quiz to see how you score: https://dianepooleheller.com/attachment-test/
• If you’re in a relationship, talk to your partner about what you’ve learned about your attachment style so they can better understand your needs. If you’re single but wanting to mingle, this information can help you pick a partner that’s healthier for you.
• If you still need some guidance, speak to a counsellor for further support.
My name is Alycia Chung and I am a Registered Psychologist and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. You can find me over at W111-PB, where I work as a counsellor at NAIT Student Counselling.