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A considerable part of our human experience is forming connections with others. It is our nature to seek out relationships and feelings of love and support. 

Although we are meant to form connections and relationships with others, disconnect and misunderstanding often exist within our interpersonal relationships. Why is that?

The biggest flaw in modern relationships is the general lack of reflection and analysis regarding our behaviors within this essential dynamic. Maybe you experience the same problematic behavior patterns as your partners or friends or believe that no one will ever understand your own needs in a relationship. 

If you are struggling with your interpersonal relationships, it may be time to reflect on your childhood. 

What Are Attachment Styles?

If you have never heard of attachment styles, you might not fully know the link between childhood attachment style and present relationship attachment style. 

Attachment recognizes the emotional closeness between two people or a group of people. It is crucial in understanding personal definitions of safety, stress regulation, adaptability, and resilience. 

Childhood attachment patterns set the foundation for attachment styles later in life. The behavior of parents and caretakers plays a significant role in forming the way a child understands, perceives, and manages their relationships. 

An infant and young child are dependent on their parents to understand what well-being is. Infants depend on their parents for physical and emotional needs, especially defining experiences of comfort, soothing, and support. 

An individual’s very first experience of security and comfort is conditioned by their parents. Suppose a parent does not tune in to their child’s needs or neglects to offer a warm and caring environment during childhood. In that case, the child is likely to experience difficulties in interpersonal relationships as they age.

The Four Attachment Styles and How They Manifest in Adulthood

There are four adult attachment styles:

  • Anxious (preoccupied)
  • Avoidant (dismissive)
  • Disorganized
  • Secure

A person may fit more than one category of attachment. By understanding how these styles manifest, you may feel empowered to reverse some unhealthy patterns in your relationships. You might also be able to identify your specific needs within your relationships as you work to improve them. 

Anxious Attachment Style

An anxious attachment style can be the result of inconsistent or insubstantial parenting. Children who live with neglectful parents, are emotionally unavailable, or are abusive are likely to experience this attachment style. 

An anxious attachment style might manifest as a dependent adult. The anxious adult requires validation, approval, and responsiveness from their partner. They also fear abandonment, constantly worrying that their partner is not as invested in a given relationship. 

A person with an anxious attachment style may benefit by breaking the cycle. They must take responsibility for self-growth and relationship growth, working to take ownership of their needs. 

Avoidant Attachment Style

An avoidant attachment style forms in childhood when parents are overwhelmingly emotionally unavailable or unresponsive to their child’s needs. It may also occur as the result of trauma. 

This attachment style might manifest as an emotionally independent and self-sufficient adult. This person may have high self-esteem or lack it entirely, although a typical result of this style is that they consider it weak to depend on others. 

This style is problematic when forming a partnership with a significant other, as one partner suppresses their emotional needs. A person looking to heal from an avoidant attachment style needs a partner that will be patient with them as they learn to open up about their mental and emotional needs. Their partner must be compassionate and trustworthy. 

Disorganized Attachment Style

A disorganized attachment style comes from inconsistent parenting and inappropriate responses to the distress experienced by the child. No strategy or circumstance allows their needs to be safely and securely met. 

This attachment style might manifest as a fearful-avoidant adult. They may have unstable relationships with others as they want intimacy and closeness but find trouble trusting and depending on others. They may struggle with emotional regulation or fear getting hurt. 

A person looking to heal from disorganized attachment can continue to reflect on their childhood and history and try to make sense of what they experienced. A person will need patience, emotional closeness, and increased awareness from their partner. 

Secure Attachment Style

A secure attachment style is recognized in children who show normal distress when their parent or caregiver leaves but can bounce back quickly when their parent returns. A child feels physically and emotionally protected and secure in childhood, with an expected and healthy level of dependence on their parents. 

A secure attachment style may manifest into an adult that healthily depends on their partner, and in turn, let their partner rely on them. There is honesty, emotional closeness, and tolerance in this type of relationship. A person may thrive in a relationship with others but don’t fear being alone. 

It is important to note that a person with a secure attachment style can develop unhealthy behaviors in relationships after trauma or loss. Reflect on your behaviors, needs, and wants in your relationships with others. By understanding what attachment style best relates to you, you will find reliable and valuable information on how to heal in your current relationship. 

Reflecting on your childhood can uncover important information on how you understand yourself and your behaviors as an adult. Our attachment styles begin in childhood and form due to the type of relationship that exists with our parents. Sometimes, unhealthy behavior patterns may surface in our adult relationships because we are not consciously aware of how or why they ever began. Rely on your attachment style to help you discover your wants, needs, and goals in your interpersonal relationships. West Coast Recovery Centers understand how vital interpersonal relationships and social support are in your recovery journey. We provide valuable tools to help you reflect on your behavior patterns and individualize treatment plans to help you achieve your treatment goals. It is essential to heal from relational trauma from the past to be at your best in your current relationships. Please call West Coast at (760) 492-6509 today for more information.