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Different Behavioural Attachment Styles

When we struggle to find love, we usually end up blaming things outside ourselves – statistics, lack of opportunity, and even the kind of place we live in. While these things may play a role, this doesn’t remove us from the equation. It could also be we’re struggling to find the love that we truly deserve because of our attachment style.

Our attachment style refers to a particular way of relating to other people. This attachment style is formed very early in life specifically during the first two years. This is why parents need to be aware of their responsiveness to their child's needs during the first two years. How they respond in times of distress will strongly impact the attachment pattern they will have later in life.

The Different Attachment Patterns

Starting at the age of six months, a child forms an emotional attachment to an adult. The level of responsiveness of this adult to a child will build the foundation of the child’s attachment pattern.

Secure Attachment

When the child’s primary caregiver is sensitive and responsive to the child’s needs, he/she will see this adult as a secure base from which he/she can explore the world and become more independent. A child with a secure attachment will show some distress when the caregiver leaves but will be able to compose himself/herself, knowing that his/her caregiver will return. He/she feels protected by the caregiver and knows that he/she can depend on him/her.

The Effect: An adult who establishes a secure form of attachment while growing up will have a strong sense of self and that desire to establish a close relationship with others. Consequently, adults who can establish a secure attachment live a life of balance and would have that positive view of themselves, their partners, and their relationships.

Avoidant Attachment

Children who grow up with insensitive and emotionally unavailable adults may develop an avoidant attachment style. It’s because they grow up being discouraged when they express distress like crying and are not soothed or not responded to when being hurt or when in distress.

The Effect: Children who develop an avoidant attachment style will most likely have an avoidant attachment style as adults. The person may be avoidant-dismissing. People who have this type of attachment style will see intimacy as dangerous and would perceive other people as unreliable.

The avoidant-dismissing person is uncomfortable with intimacy. He/she thinks that he/she doesn’t need others to be happy or complete. Consequently, since this person is trained not to rely on the caregiver, he/she tends to be cold in relationships.

Ambivalent/Anxious Attachment

Consistency is vital especially when kids are still forming their attachment style. Caregivers who end up being inconsistent with their responses to children (i.e. they can be nurturing at times and insensitive at others), may raise children who are confused and insecure. They feel distrustful but at the same time, clingy to their parent.

The Effect: Children who grow up with ambivalent/anxious attachment may turn out to be insecure as adults. They can develop this preoccupied attachment pattern. Therefore, they depend greatly on other people, seeking their approval although this never relieves their self-doubt. As a result, they can become too dependent and clingy to their partner.

Disorganized Attachment

When a child grows up with an abusive adult, he/she may dissociate from himself/herself as the adult/primary caregiver is the source of his/her distress and at the same time, of his/her safety.

The Effect: A child who has formed a disorganized attachment may grow up developing a fearful-avoidant personality as an adult. He/she desires social contact but is inhibited by his/her fear of rejection. He/she lives out of balance because he/she has a clear idea of self but doesn’t develop a true connection with others.

Fear Can Keep Us From Finding Love

It is not just our behavioural style that keeps us from finding and forming the love that we truly deserve. We also have these fears that may keep us from doing so, be it fear of rejection, intimacy, trust, or of love itself. Sometimes, these fears lead us to defend or sabotage ourselves when it comes to love.

While many of these fears develop as a result of past experiences, whether it’s a traumatic childhood experience or past hurt, it’s very important to realize that part of the solution is recognizing that these fears occur.

Once we recognize that these problems occur, we can start to delve into the different ways we keep love from blossoming. We can start by looking at certain patterns we have in our past or current relationship. We may realize that we have these certain defences that systematically ward off love.

It’s only when we start noticing these patterns that we can begin to trace their roots. Have we been rejected by our parents or caregiver as a kid? Or did we grow up observing these destructive interactions between our parents?

Oftentimes, the behaviour we’ve witnessed and experienced as kids subconsciously shapes the way we think as adults.

Developing Earned Secure Attachment

I’m a certified hypnotherapist in London and through hypnosis techniques, I can help you find out the underlying cause of your commitment style that’s keeping love from blossoming in life. Through hypnosis, I can help you form a stronger sense of self and a better outlook on relationships. If you wanted to know more about my practice, you can contact me.

Each of us has unique childhood experiences that helped form who we are right now. Having a tough childhood doesn’t mean that we can’t be successful in relationships. Yes, it may take time to get where we want to be but it’s highly doable especially when we seek help.


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