Your attachment style is formed in early childhood. Anywhere from 6 weeks – 10 months old you developed behaviors in reactions to your caregivers. If you parents did a good job in parenting, you most likely have a Secure attachment style. Lucky You! 50 – 60% of the population has this style. If your caregivers were not consistent in their parenting, or there were other issues in the family such as a chemical dependency, mental illness, or neglect, you likely have an Insecure attachment style.
Your attachment style informs your sense of safety and influences your ability to bond with others. These learned behaviors become most evident in your closest relationships, particularly romantic relationships. There are three different types of insecure attachment styles; Anxious, Avoidant and Disorganized. If you want to know your attachment style, you can take a free test offered by Phycology Today. This test will break down your attachment styles by your percentage of Secure, Anxious, Avoidant and Disorganized. It is helpful to know where you fall into each of these categories. There are sub-categories for each of these styles and the resources sited below, go into them in greater detail, but here is a short description for the three main insecure attachment styles:
Anxious/Preoccupied – This style manifests in a style that is often described as “clingy” and requiring a lot of validation and reassurance. This style looks outside of themselves to get their needs met instead of meeting their own.
Avoidant – Comes in two flavors: Fearful Avoidant and Dismissive Avoidant. This attachment style shuns intimacy and pushes people away in times of need. They have a hard time in connecting with others even though their need is to connect is the same as the rest of the population. This results in a push pull type of behavior that can be very painful for those that become close to them.
Disorganized – This attachment style is a product of trauma or extreme inconsistency in childhood and behaviors vacillate between the other two insecure styles. This style is typically dealing with CPTSD.
The good news is that if you have one of these attachment styles there are things you can do to overcome them and work on become more secure in your relationships. I fell into the Anxious camp, while my ex was Avoidant. We were constantly triggering each other, and he would withdraw, and I would cling. We were involved in what is called the Anxious/Avoidant trap, and this went on for years. Each of us never getting our needs met nor reaching the level of closeness that we each craved.
The other issue I want to mention on this topic, is your attachment style can also be accompanied by the presence of CPTSD. The “C” in PTSD stands for Complex which means it was not the result of a single incident, but a reoccurring trauma that happened in childhood. This can be repeated emotional abandonment or not acknowledging your feelings on a consistent basis. This trauma becomes stored in the body and is triggered by familiar events. This results in brain dysregulation and the in ability to control your emotions. I recommend you look at The Crappy Childhood Fairy’s info below to see if this applies to you.
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma – Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
- When the Past is Present: Healing Emotional Wounds that Sabotage Our Relationships – David Richo
- The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships – Harriet Lerner
- The Anger Solution: The Proven Method for Achieving Calm and Developing Healthy, Long Lasting Relationships – John Lee
- The Five Levels of Attachment – don Miguel Ruiz, Jr.
- Healing your Attachment Wounds – Diane Poole Heller, Ph.D