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Just like food and shelter, human beings have a need for attachment. It is nothing but an emotional bond that we share with another person. Be it searching for love, looking for a contact, seeking support, or finding comfort- a sense of belonging is essential and yet it can manifest in a different way for each one of us. It allows us to enjoy secure attachments and comforts in a safe environment.
Attachment can be healthy in all aspects of a romantic relationship but one needs to understand when it becomes unhealthy. So, if you are frantically searching on the internet about what made your relationship so screwed up, then you may have come across attachment theory. Knowing this will help you understand and make sense of how you behave with your partner and why you do so when it comes to dating or being in a relationship.
To show love and be loved are the best feeling ever. But, for some searching for love can be quite daunting and it can be worse for people who have been in traumatic relationships. You may or may not be aware of attachment or emotional intimacy but it begins with our caregivers at an early stage and impacts all our future romantic relationships, mentions research by a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Columbia University, Amir Levine.
We have always wanted our romantic relationships to be perfect and trouble fee, but that is never the case. Since Valentine's Day will be here by next month, let us know how attachments can affect romantic relationships. Know what are the styles, signs and reasons behind them.
According to John Bowley, a British Psychologist, who was the first attachment theorist, attachment is a 'lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.' His theory, which dates back to 1950, has identified 4 attachment styles- 1. anxious-preoccupied, 2. avoidant-dismissive, 3. disorganized / fearful-avoidant, and 4. secure.
John Bowlby's work on attachment theory dates back to the 1950s. Based on his theory, four adult attachment styles were identified:
1. Anxious (preoccupied),
2. Avoidant (dismissive),
3. Disorganized (fearful-avoidant), and
1. Anxious Or Preoccupied Style Of Attachment
People who are often stressed are anxious about their relationship, fall under this category. For them, a constant need for affection and reassurance is needed They find it extremely troublesome to be alone and have trust issues as well. This develops a very unhealthy pattern in their relationships. Therefore, they see the other partner as heartless and cold and feel that they are not invested in their relationship.
Even if the person with a preoccupied style of attachment is dealing with a personal issue, they will rely on the other partner or better half for support, response and approval to solve their problems. They create a very negative idea of themselves in their own mind and have a positive view of others around them. This happens because they build a strong fear of abandonment within them and therefore they grasp on to anyone who makes them feel emotionally safe.
2. Avoidant / Dismissive Style Of Attachment
People with an avoidant or dismissive style of attachment are seen to be emotionally distant from their partner or better half. Due to isolation, they develop a feeling of being 'pseudo-independent', but in reality, they are focused too much on themselves to notice what is going on in their relationship. They fear attachment and being committed in a romantic relationship or being close to someone can escalate their anxiety. This results in pushing people away.
They keep their emotions and feelings to themselves. If they feel threatened or sad in a relationship, it is very easy for them to detach themselves. At times they can shut themselves down emotionally whenever the situation is not in their favour, like having a heated argument with their partner or circumstances that are too emotional.
3. Disorganized / Fearful-Avoidant Style Of Attachment
People with a fearful avoidant style of attachment maintain a boundary because they are afraid to be too close or too distant from others. They want to refrain from feeling anything, but when they are unable to do that, they suffer from anxiety they tend to either hide or run away from their feelings. Due to their reaction, there is a flood of emotions that they face later. This confuses them and makes their moods quite unpredictable. They believe that whenever the need arises they will look towards their partner to get the work done, but believe that if they go too close to them, they may end up getting hurt.
Whenever they are looking for a romantic relationship, they tend to get themselves in ones which are either dramatic or rocky and unstable. Also, it is common for them to end up in relationships that are abusive in nature. In their struggle to be intimate and close with their partner, they always have an underlying feeling of being abandoned. The timing is seen to be a constant problem in these relationships. Sometimes they are too clingy with their partner and when their partner tries to come close or show too much affection, they feel trapped.
4. Secure Attachment Style Of Attachment
People who display a secure style of attachment are without a doubt the best romantic partners. They display a wide range of affection and show ample interest towards their better half or partners. They know the right way to prioritise their relationships and also they are comfortable in their own company and being with their partner or other people. They have a very clear understanding of their boundaries, they draw them and abide by them. Not only do they love to communicate about themselves to people, but they are good listeners too. They are loyal, and trustworthy and can cooperate or sacrifice when needed.
They can handle rejections as well and despite dealing with pain, they move on in their life. However, at times, they can have a trust deficit towards people who are either their partners or friends. At times, they do depend on others when situations become too demanding for them.
How Your Attachment Style Can Affect A Romantic Relationship
Attachment styles are not something we ponder upon. They usually form in childhood and later, these behaviours stick around and for some become emotional baggage that is difficult to get rid of. Instead of evolving the adults tend to redirect their thoughts and behaviour to a substitute relationship they form in adulthood.
One cannot change their partner's attachment style since it comes from a deep-rooted belief system, so instead, they can change their own, if they want to be in that relationship. But both partners need to be open to suggestions and explore unknown territories in order to fix their problems. In these cases, establishing a safe and secure bond with the self can make all the difference in relationships. Also, one needs to be aware of their attachment style and how it affects their relationship and life in general.
If all efforts fail, and you are unable to alter your behaviour then counsellors and therapists can help you with coping mechanisms and strategies.
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