How our Attachment Patterns Influence our Relationships with Others
There are various types of attachments patterns that are taught to Psychology students, usually very early on in their programs. I recall learning about them way back in my first year Introduction to Psychology class. However, it is not until very recently that I have truly recognized how crucial our attachment patterns are in understanding both are strengths and vulnerabilities in relationships, in seeking to understand how we select our relationships and in how our relationships progress.
Typically, adult attachment patterns are grouped into one of three types: (a) secure, (b) anxious, and (c) avoidant.
These are individuals that are typically characterized as having high self-esteem. They seek out social relationships, are capable of expressing their needs and emotions with others, and enjoy being in intimate relationships.
Avoidant attachment is associated with having issues with intimacy, a lack of investment in relationships and an inability to express one’s emotions with others.
Anxious attachment adults are usually fearful of rejection and abandonment, and typically tend to need constant assurance and validation from others.
Our attachment patterns and of those whom with which we are in relationships greatly influences the quality of that relationship. For instance, an adult with an anxious attachment style will typically continually require certain needs to be met by their partner; when these needs go unmet, they can become clingy and possessive over their partner. Unfortunately, this can ultimately work against them, pushing their partner further away, particularly if the partner’s attachment style is of the avoidant type.
Where relationships are concerned, an ordinary goal of therapy – whether individual or couple’s therapy – is to assist in developing insight into one’s own attachment patterns. When one is more aware of their own attachment patterns, it becomes easier to develop an understanding of how influential it is in a relationship and the interplay of one’s own attachment pattern with others’ in their relationships. Finally, this same insight can help serve as a catalyst for change; where the goal of therapy shifts to helping change your attachment pattern toward one that is healthier and more secure.