Attachment Styles and Relationships

Do you find that you tend to attract the same kind of mate?  Lately, a comment I’ve been hearing from several of my single female clients is “why do I always end up with men who need fixing?”  Or, “why do I end up going on great dates and then I never hear anything back?”  Interesting pattern.  Once you understand attachment style, you will better understand yourself, others around you, and those you date.

It is believed that adult attachment is based on interactions with one’s caregiver when an infant, as studied by psychologist John Bowlby, as well as experiences as one goes through life.  Even memories we don’t recall can impact our attachment style! There are 3 main attachment styles we see in adults:

  • Anxious:  those with this style are very focused on their relationships, anxious about how the relationship is going, and worry about their partner’s ability to love them.  They may be referred to as “clingy” or often needing reassurance from their partner.
  • Avoidant: those with this style are fearful of losing their sense of independence and often do not find themselves worrying about the relationship.  They try to minimize closeness.    Those in this category are described by their partner’s as being “emotionally distant.”
  • Secure:  those with this style are secure within relationships.  They are normally seen as warm as loving.  They are able to communicate their needs to their partner and “go with the flow” within the relationship.  If there is a fight or their partner doesn’t respond right away to a message, they do not become anxious that their partner is going to leave them as the anxious attachment may experience.

None of the attachment styles are necessarily considered bad or good.  It’s the attachment style one has which helps us to have a better understanding.  Many of my clients have expressed a sense of relief once better understanding attachment and how it plays a role in their relationships, both with themselves and if they are noticing they end up being attracted to multiple partners with similar attachment styles.  If a potential suitor seems  to have patterns of becoming distant or ghosting you, yes, it could have something to do with you, but it is also possible you are attracting potential partners with avoidant attachment style.  Once you figure this out, this can make dating easier as you now know what to expect from the person you’re seeing and why you may be responding in a certain way to their behaviors.

Author: Carolyn Cole, LCPC, LMFT, NCC

I am a licensed psychotherapist in Chicago with a Masters Degree in Family Counseling. I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Nationally Certified Counselor. I work as a psychotherapist in private practice where I focus on relationship concerns and I also work in a community mental health agency as a Clinical Director where I provide clinical supervision to new therapists.

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