Attachment Style: How To Use It In Current And Future Relationships
So, now that you’ve taken the quiz, you know your attachment style. Dope. What now?
Knowing your attachment style means you’re way more equipped to enter a relationship or improve your current relationship with a ton more knowledge than before. Knowing your attachment style means you now know what makes you spiral, what gets you going and what you need to be more secure. Even securely attached people aren’t completely secure in everything. In fact, everyone is usually a combination of attachments.
Keeping your attachment style in mind, let’s hit the pause button for a sec. Take a trip down memory lane, and review your previous partners. Do you notice any patterns? For example, did you always feel like you were taking the relationship more seriously than your partner? Did you typically feel like your partners all end up being too needy? Do you feel like you’ve always feared commitment, and ultimately never dated people seriously without finding something wrong with them?
Patterns with you and patterns with your previous partners are actually very telling. Not only do you understand yourself, but now you have an idea of the type of partners you think you seem to attract.
A very typical couple is an anxious-preoccupied with a dismissive-avoidant. It’s commonly called the anxious-avoidance dance. What tends to happen is these two types seem to be magnets. They attract each other and end up in a usually painful and dramatic relationship. The anxious partner ends up always wanting more while the dismissive is constantly putting distance between them.
However, research has found that when one parter who is either anxious or avoidant dates a secure partner, they tend to lessen their need of too much closeness or distance. Secure partners are great at leveling out the things that make these people tick.
But let’s say you’re not a secure person, and you’re not dating a secure person. Are you both ultimately doomed as a couple? Not at all.
You actually have a couple options on how to tackle this problem, but it will take work.
Let’s say you are an anxious female who is dating an avoidant male, as this combination is fairly common. You desperately want it to work out, and you think it’s worth a shot. Great. Let’s get to work.
Your two options are as follows: Let go of some of your needs, or get help for you and your partner.
The first option isn’t something I recommend for people unless they’re really sure it wouldn’t hurt them later on. Most people think they can look past certain things until ultimately they become resentful and upset in the relationship later on in life. We don’t want that.
However, if you think you can sacrifice certain needs, this may be for you.
Let’s get back to our previous example. Let’s say that a common pattern with your partner is that when things are going super well and you both are spending a ton of time together, he ghosts you for a couple days and only provides you with limited texts. After those couple days, he’s right back as if nothing happened.
You’ve talked to him about it several times. Usually your complaints are met with denial that anything serious is happening or that there is a pattern, or he says you’re too clingy and just wants to be alone for a day to do his own thing.
When he disappears on you, you instantly spiral into the worst thoughts. You call several times with no response at all.
One day you decide to do your own thing when he ghosts. As much as you want to call and check in, you decide this can be a reminder for you to pick up some old hobbies and spend some time with the girls.
As much as you’d rather he be consistently communicative, you have accepted that he needs to disappear a little bit to get back to feeling comfortable with you. You fill the void of his absence with your own hobbies, and you feel pleased when he returns to you, just as happy as before he left.
If this is something you can let go of, and everything else in the relationship is great, you may be just fine, and the relationship will continue. In fact, as you two spend more time together in the relationship, not only will you be more accustomed to this, he may even lessen the need to distance himself as long as he doesn’t feel pressured or that he’s losing control – but this isn’t always the case.
Another option, and what I would highly recommend, is to get professional help for both you and your partner, either separately or together.
Attachment theory goes beyond just preferences and if your boyfriend or girlfriend is being crazy or an asshole. Attachment theory is (no pun intended) birthed at a very young age. You can’t change or fix someone without the help of a professional.
However, you also can’t force someone into therapy. If they don’t want the tools to change and you can’t look past their patterns, this relationship isn’t for you. And that’s also OK.
You can use your knowledge for selecting the right partner for you. If you know what your needs are, don’t ignore the red flags of someone with an opposing attachment style than you. Try to find the secure partners. Try to work on your own needs. Try to be self aware. At the end of the day, these things are needed to have a healthy and successful relationship. Many people who have an insecure attachment style often meet a secure person and complain that he/she is boring. If you find yourself being that person, try your best to give this “boring”, secure person a shot because he/she may be the best person to date in the long run.
With all this said, I’m just scratching the surface of attachment theory. I highly recommend you read a few books on your own to have an even better understanding. Check out some of the books I’ve read on attachment theory below.
–Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy, and Worried and What You Can Do About It by Leslie Becker-Phelps PhD