“She’s too clingy”
“He’s so distant”
“They’re just too needy!”
I’m sure some of you might have come across these utterances when talking about relationship problems. Some people are clingy, some are distant and unattached, some might need constant validation… but why? There might be an answer in Attachment Theory. Basically, this theory investigates how we think, feel, and act in close relationships, and they form in the early stages of our life based on the way we bond with our caregivers. Here are the four attachment styles:
A person with a secure attachment style is independent, has a good sense of self-esteem, and they do well in social relationships. They tend to have honest and open relationships. Confident in their relationship, they feel comfortable going to their partner whenever they feel something is off. BUT, having a secure attachment style doesn’t automatically mean having a ‘perfect’ relationship. They might still face conflict and disagreements in their relationship, but what sets them apart is their ability to communicate effectively and problem solve.
As one of the three insecure attachment styles, people with the dismissive-avoidant attachment style often struggle with expressing their feelings and find it hard to understand emotions. As emotionally independent people (almost to a fault), they tend to avoid intimate relationships, since they may feel suffocated. When faced with rejection (i.e. their partner threatens to leave the relationship), they tend to pull away or act as if they don’t care. Consequently, people with this attachment style don’t have a lot of close relationships with others.
We often see people describe themselves as hopeless romantics. While there is nothing wrong with idealizing relationships, there is a flip side to it. People with the anxious attachment style crave intimacy and find it easier to form a relationship with someone based on their fantasies rather than in reality. Due to their fear of abandonment and low self-esteem, they need a lot of approval and reassurance from their partners, which can turn into being demanding, obsessive, and clingy. If they don’t receive their desired response, they would feel anxious about their partner leaving them, or that their partner doesn’t care enough about them.
One thing you need to know about the fearful-avoidant style is that it’s a mix of the dismissive-avoidant and the anxious attachment style. They often have inner conflicts between fear of being too close or too distant from someone. Hence, they may experience many highs and lows when in a relationship. More often than not, they struggle to be confident in their partner, and as a result, feel threatened when faced with possible romantic rivals.
If you see yourself in one of the three insecure attachment styles, just remember that you are not alone in this, and people can evolve! The first step into a secure relationship is to recognize how certain behaviours might be affecting your relationships and acknowledge what needs to change.
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