How knowing your romantic attachment style could save your relationships

Learning your attachment style might help you understand your behavior — especially some of those bad habits — in romantic relationships. 

If you want love but also fear it or feel like you get distant when you like someone, it might relate to your attachment style

Certified life coach Sarah Yoo explained attachment theory and how to find your attachment style to In The Know.

What is attachment theory? 

“It’s a concept in developmental psychology that explains how the attachment style that you formed with your primary caregivers as a child, typically your parents, can continue to function as the blueprint for your adult romantic relationships,” Yoo said.

According to the theory, there are four different attachment styles with specific features. Yoo said each one is largely shaped by how “available and responsive your parents were in meeting your physical and emotional needs.”

Anxious attachment style

You like reassurance from your partner like “I love you” or “I won’t leave you.” 

“You strongly crave intimacy and connection. You often worry that your partner will leave you and you often are drawn to those who are either avoidant or unavailable,” Yoo said. “This style typically reflects a child who grew up with inconsistent parents and therefore developed anxious habits as a way for them to get their needs met.” 

As an adult, you may repeat similar behaviors in hope that your partner will fulfill the needs that went unmet in your childhood. 

Avoidant attachment style

You are characterized by self-sufficiency and fierce independence. 

“You tend to avoid emotional intimacy and you believe that you don’t really need anyone in your life,” Yoo said. “This style typically reflects a child who grew up with distant or neglectful parents which left them feeling unwanted and rejected.” 

This type may stop seeking love and intimacy altogether to avoid feeling the pain of rejection experienced during childhood. 

Fearful-Avoidant attachment style

You may experience instability or turmoil in your relationships. 

“This style is typically developed under unpredictable and unreliable parents, where the child learned to fear their parents instead of seeing them as a source of love and safety,” Yoo said. “But deep down, they still wanted love. So as adults, they feel stuck in between the pendulum of wanting intimacy but fearing it at the same time.” 

Secure attachment style

Meaningful relationships never seem to evade you. 

“You feel comfortable with openness and vulnerability and trust your partners with ease,” Yoo said. “Typically this reflects a child who felt safe and secure because their parents were consistently available and responsive to their needs. And as adults, their relationships are stable, where it’s based on foundational values such as trust, honesty, vulnerability and openness.”

Yoo said learning your attachment style can help illuminate the cause of relationship patterns. People tend to repeat negative behaviors from their childhood, even when they don’t want to, because they can be comforting. 

“This is why the awareness and understanding your attachment styles in a deeper way can be extremely powerful and helpful,” Yoo said, “Because it is only from the place that we can begin to heal, make different choices and move towards creating a healthier and secure relationship of our dreams.”

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