The Affects of Attachment Styles in a Relationship

Connection. Bond. Intimacy. Vulnerability. Trust. Support. These words describe the benefits of a relationship. As humans, we are created for a relationship with God and with one another. In fact, forming relationships with people is vital to our emotional and mental well-being, and even our survival. We need each other. We need to feel connected to another human being and while that doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a romantic relationship there are health benefits to being in a healthy one. A healthy committed relationship, like a marriage, can result in less stress, healthier behaviors, to having a greater sense of purpose. One of the best ways to have a healthy marriage is by understanding and having an awareness of another’s attachment style. Knowing which attachment style you and your spouse lean towards can help inform how you respond and relate to each other in settling conflicts, showing love, and needing support. Having a better understanding of one another’s attachment styles can aid in having a happy, healthy marriage. 

You may be wondering what an attachment style even is and where it derives from. Therefore let’s discuss where it all begins. It begins in childhood, well, even sooner than that, more like at birth. An attachment style is formed from the moment you, as a baby, enter the world. Your environment and connectedness to your parents determine which attachment style you’ll most likely end up having. If a baby is immediately given to the mother and she nurtures, loves, and is presently a bond of trust begins to develop. When a child’s needs are consistently met through comfort and peace it beings to shape the baby’s ability to trust and have a positive worldview. However if a child is brought into the world and the environment is not nurturing, chaotic, and distressing it can be a traumatic experience for the child. When the parent or caregiver is inconsistent in fulfilling the child’s needs it can heighten a state of anxiety, as the child is unsure of whether or not the caregiver will respond. Therefore the attachment occurs through the emotional bond between a child and a parent or caregiver. It is these types of scenarios that can lead to different attachment styles. There are four types of styles and each one measure how an individual responds to relationships, whether through avoidance, anxiety, or closeness. 

1. Secure Attachment

A person who has the secure attachment style likely had a caretaker that was consistently nurturing and emotionally available. Therefore as an adult, this person has an easier time trusting others, recognizing what they need, and speaking up about it. This person feels secure and comfortable in their relationship and giving their spouse some space doesn’t lead to feelings of insecurity or anxiety. Although being a person with a secure attachment style doesn’t mean they never get angry or jealous, it simply means at the end of the day they trust their partner and know they can be open and honest with them. 

2. Dismissive- Avoidant Attachment

A person who is dismissive-avoidant is someone who likes their independence and comes across as not needing or wanting acceptance from others. This person tends to be emotionally distant and struggles with expressing and discussing emotions. The individual with this type of attachment will avoid being vulnerable and will even pride him or herself on not depending on anyone. This person often has high self-esteem but doesn’t assess others very well. In fact, they can be very charming and inviting but also very inward-focused. They can easily dismiss people when they become irritated with certain qualities of others or with certain demands that affect their time. This individual tends to have an internal battle when they find someone who could be a great fit for them because even though their mind desires the connection, their emotions find their partner’s love as an anxiety trigger and as a threat. This person tends to cope by pushing the person who loves them away. 

3. Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment

A person who has an anxious-preoccupied attachment style is considered to be more on the side of insecurity. This style often comes from an early environment, in which the caregiver was either emotionally unavailable or inconsistent. This person usually has low self-esteem and desires a ton of attention and reassurance from their partner. They tend to fear that the person they love doesn’t really love them back or will abandon them. This individual seeks to find security and safety within the relationship. They see their partner as someone who completes them or saves them from either themselves or a situation. The relationship becomes a part of their identity, making them more possessive or clingy out of fear of losing their partner. However, this behavior can end up pushing their partner away.

4. Fearful-Avoidant Attachment

A person who experienced childhood trauma may have this attachment style because they most likely didn’t receive care or comfort from the person that was supposed to take care of them. Therefore their behavior tends to be a combination of being anxious and dismissive. They tend to perceive themselves as giving a lot more in the relationship than they’re receiving, which can lead to them resenting their partner for not meeting their needs. Yet they struggle to communicate how they feel and even identify what exactly they do need.

No attachment style makes a person “bad” or “good” it is simply a way to identify what your natural tendency is bent toward. It can bring awareness to a relationship and help them know how to communicate better. As two individuals who love each other grow and gain a better understanding of one another it can transform a person from an insecure attachment into a secure one. We all have a little dysfunction in us, as we’re all born sinners, but we can let God transform us into a new person by changing the way we think. Then we will learn to know God’s will for us, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Rom. 12:2).