Today, we will look more closely at how adult attachment styles define the outcome and quality of our intimate relationships especially in our marriages.
We learned from last Sundayâ€™s article that our intimate relationships are reenactment of our childhood experiences with our primary caregivers. Over the course of many interactions, we form a relatively stable set of expectations and beliefs about the world and of people.
These expectations and beliefs, which become the core of our internal structure, tend to perpetrate itself by choosing and repeating the same familiar pattern of thinking and behavingâ€¦ even those that are seemingly unhealthy and destructive. Our internal structure also becomes the foundation of our attachment style.
There are four different attachment styles based on the research of Horowitz and Bartholomew. Every individual possesses a particular style, or a degree of each, based on how she or he experienced early attachment with caregiver.
Of all the styles, it is a secure attachment that brings forth a high probability of a nurturing and satisfying relationship. All the others are driven by a sense of insecurity, anxiety, and fear which stifles, disrupts, and sabotages any good intention to fulfill our needs for intimacy.
Securely attached adults are comfortable both with intimacy and independence in their relationships. They can live being single as well as with a partner. They can easily open up and relate emotionally with others and are not afraid of others depending on them and them depending on others.
They view themselves as capable of giving love and receiving love and they view their partners in the same way. Most of these adults grew up in an environment where warmth and responsiveness are present and so their interaction with their relationship partners are also the same.
On the other hand, there are adults who desire to be overly emotionally entangled with their partners but are disappointed why their partners are not as passionate as they are. They need constant reassurance of love and devotion and seek high levels of intimacy.
They are always preoccupied and anxious over their worth as a partner, or if they are doing enough, and they tend to blame themselves for their partnerâ€™s lack of responsiveness. These are the types who become dependent, clingy, and eventually suffocating. Most likely, their early interactions were marred with ambivalence and inconsistency on the part of the caregiver.
Adults with dismissive-avoidant attachment style desire a high level of independence. Yet this desire for independence often appears as an attempt to avoid intimate relationships altogether. They say they do not need anyone to be happy or fulfilled. They are self-sufficient and view close relationships as relatively unimportant.
Hence, they donâ€™t seek partners. They are the men/women haters. Why is this so? Because their early relationships may have been filled with rejections and so they learned to protect themselves from more rejections by distancing, disengaging, and hiding their feelings.
While the style above is characterized by self-sufficiency and an obvious denial of the need of an intimate relationship, there are those who desire emotionally close relationships but have a hard time trusting their partners. These adults may have likely experienced a loss of a loved one early in life or may have been sexually abused.
As a result, they develop fear and disengage in an existing relationship or avoid altogether any attempt at intimacy because they think that they are not worthy of the affection or that their partners cannot be trusted. Even if they deeply love the person, most of the time they leave because they feel that something is just wrong inside and that they donâ€™t feel alright about it. But sadly, these adults do not admit to themselves that they have a problem or feel that they are ready to deal with their issues.
Secure, anxious-preoccupied, fearful, dismissive – we all have these tendencies because no one among us has ever lived in a fully secure environment free from psychological and emotional trauma. But our dominant attachment style, blending with that of our partner, will determine much whether our intimacy will last or be taken over by our very own search for psychological familiarity and comfort.
Hence, it is very important that we understand as couples, what draw us and glue us together. What drives our intimacy? Is it a constant seeking of reassurance of our worth from our partners to the point of stifling him/her? Or do we give up on our relationships because our need for trust is unfathomable?
If now we keep on perpetrating a childhood need that we realize may be sucking-out our adult energies and that of our marriage, then we must seek for help. On the other hand, if we have been raised in a home where nurturance and love abounds that make us secure of who we are, then let us be the source of healing to our partnerâ€™s brokenness. In this way, we can hope to be married forever.
P.S. The best way to prepare your child for schooling in June is to expose him this Summer. Come and try our Therapeutic and Creative Play for children 2-4 years old. Inquire at Bohol Child Head Start. Call or text 416-1248 or 09295571136. See the difference it will make.