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Attachment Styles and How They Affect Adult Relationships

This week, we have the lovely Başak, who is a clinical psychologist. She’ll be talking about the topic of relationships from an attachment perspective! I’m so excited to have her here!


      Hello everyone, I am Başak Küçükyalçın, a clinical psychologist residing in Bursa, Turkiye. In this article, I will discuss how attachment styles can impact our romantic relationships.


 Attachment refers to the emotional connection between a baby and its primary caregiver, usually the mother. The attachment theory is based on the premise that the child's feelings toward their primary caregiver and the characteristics of their relationship are carried into their adult-life relationships. Therefore, an attachment style suggests the way individuals form emotional bonds with others, especially in early childhood. Psychiatrist John Bowlby and psychologist Mary Ainsworth formulated the attachment theory to demonstrate how a child’s emotional bond with his primary caregiver affects his adult relationships.



 

According to the attachment theory, there are two main attachment styles: secure and insecure. Insecure attachment types include anxious (ambivalent-preoccupied), avoidant (dismissive), and disorganized (fearful-avoidant) attachment styles.


A secure attachment style is developed when a caregiver promptly meets the emotional needs of the child, providing a sense of stability and safety. This fosters healthy beliefs about oneself, others, and relationships in the child, such as feeling worthy of being loved and taken care of, believing that others will be there when he needs them, and trusting that the world is a relatively predictable and safe place.





As our attachment style, which is the emotional bond we develop in childhood, tends to carry on to our adult relationships, those with a secure attachment style have a positive self-image and perception of others. They are comfortable with emotional closeness, can express their needs and feelings without the fear of being rejected, and trust their partners to be responsive and supportive.


Individuals with an anxious attachment style tend to cling to their partners and constantly seek reassurance because they have been occasionally neglected. Their caregivers were sometimes emotionally unavailable and distracted, leaving the children questioning whether they were lovable, whether their needs would be met, and whether people were reliable.





Individuals with an anxious attachment style often struggle with negative self-image, fear of abandonment, and experience jealousy and possessiveness in their relationships. They frequently require reassurance from their partner and doubt their love. They feel inferior and only find worth in themselves when they are in a relationship. The mere thought of separation triggers anxiety and tension, causing them to do whatever it takes to avoid being separated.





People with an avoidant attachment style tend to avoid emotional intimacy and close relationships altogether, and they often strike as emotionally distant. This results from a childhood where their emotional needs were not met at all. These people had constantly unavailable and/or rejecting caregivers, which made them believe that they were not worthy of being loved and taken care of, that people were insensitive and irrelevant, and that this was how their relationships were going to be for the rest of their lives.





Individuals with an avoidant attachment style tend to value their independence and self-reliance. This is because they were forced to be independent at a young age, as they did not receive the necessary emotional support. Because of this, they may view emotional vulnerability as a weakness. Even the slightest indication of disregard or rejection can be interpreted as a sign of being unloved and undesirable, which can result in a rejection of emotional intimacy, one's partner, and the relationship as a whole. Avoidant individuals often believe that their romantic partners will eventually see them as undesirable, so they remain guarded at all times.





 The disorganized attachment style is a combination of the anxious and avoidant styles. It involves a fear of rejection and abandonment, coupled with emotional distance and self-reliance. People with this attachment style may desire intimacy but are also afraid of being hurt, which can result in conflicting behaviors in their relationships. This style of attachment is often linked to traumatic childhood experiences or a caregiver who had unresolved emotional traumas. In such cases, the caregiver's behavior may be highly inconsistent, unpredictable, and even abusive, which can cause the child to feel insecure and afraid, engendering the problem that the caregiver, who is supposed to be a source of safety, becomes a source of fear, leading to a sense of confusion and anxiety for the child.





Individuals with a disorganized attachment style are at a higher risk of developing personality disorders. This is because their perspectives of themselves, others, and the world around them are significantly distorted. They experience internal conflicts as they simultaneously crave close relationships yet fear them, leading to disruptive behaviors such as pushing people away. As a result, their relationships are often tumultuous, if they even have any, and tend not to last very long.





In conclusion, attachment style refers to the way we relate to others in close relationships, such as romantic partnerships or friendships. It is influenced by the relationship we had with our primary caregiver and can have an impact on our adult relationships. There are four main attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, avoidant-dismissive, and disorganized/fearful-avoidant. By understanding our attachment style, we can gain insight into how we behave in relationships and recognize patterns that may be sabotaging our connections with others. For instance, individuals with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style tend to cling to their partner and have a fear of abandonment. Those with an avoidant attachment style may avoid intimate relationships altogether, while those with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style may avoid emotional intimacy and push their partners away. Identifying these patterns can help us build healthier and more satisfying relationships.




 

  Who is Başak Küçükyalçın?


Upon completing her bachelor’s degree in 2019, Başak pursued her clinical psychology studies at Marmara University and wrote her thesis about ‘Prediction of Beliefs Associated with Personality Disorders in Adults: The Impact of Childhood Trauma and Dysfunctional Attitudes’. Upon completion in 2022, she received her clinical psychologist title. She opened her office recently and is continuing to give both online and in-person psychotherapies to her clients.


For more information, you can check her website as well as her social media handles!


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1 Comment


Jennifer Pickering
Jennifer Pickering
Feb 28

This is so interesting!!

Jennifer

<a href=https://curatedbyjennifer.com>Curated by Jennifer</a>

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