How understanding your attachment style can help you navigate your relationship better

It's more than a buzzing dating lingo!

12 March, 2024
How understanding your attachment style can help you navigate your relationship better

If we asked you to take a long look at your dating history, what patterns would you notice? From relationship-hopping and finding people who are eerily similar to each other to being insecure and afraid of rejection—these habits shape our dating lives. And one of the biggest influencers on our relationships is our early childhood years. Our formative years—when we form attachment styles—can impact all our connections.

The attachment theory is a psychological theory that focuses on the way people connect with others. It was first introduced by psychologists, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in the 1950s, who studied the behaviour of infants when they were separated from their caregivers. The study was continued by psychologists, Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver who discovered that the relationship between a child and their primary caregivers a foundational indicator of how people form connections (especially romantic ones) later in life. 

Through the years, ‘attachment style’ has become a buzzing word in dating. So much so that the hashtag has over half a million views on TikTok. But the theory is more than just a trend; it's a way to change how you view your relationships and be a reality check for unhealthy patterns.  

Before we break down the four attachment styles for you, it's important to know that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of situation. Unlike love languages or the zodiac signs, attachment styles are rooted in science and they can explain a lot about the kind of people you attract and why you do what you do in relationships. 
The four attachment styles 

Anxious attachment style  

Are you constantly worried about whether your partner loves you? Do you become completely fixated on your partner and forget about everyone else as soon as you get into a relationship? Do you struggle to maintain boundaries and get extremely possessive?  If you nodded along to all of these, you might have an anxious attachment style. It is characterised by feelings of insecurity, jealousy, low self-esteem, and a fear of rejection. You are uncertain and tend to worry that your partner will leave you even if they have given no such indication. For instance, if they don’t reply to your text for a while or don’t call at the time they said they would, you start feeling anxious and start doubting their feelings for you. If you do fall under this category, there is no need to feel guilty. You just crave more affection, intimacy, and reassurance than others. 

Avoidant attachment style  

People with an avoidant attachment style value their independence over everything else. They tend to be very self-reliant and more often than not, have a fear of intimacy. So if you are to withdraw from someone as soon as things get too real or intimate, or you’ve been told by numerous partners that you’re distant or closed off even when you’re trying not to be, you might fall under this category. 

Having this attachment style doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want to be in a relationship; it just means that you have your guards way, way up and have trouble getting close enough to others to trust them. They would rather swipe away on a dating app and have short-term relationships than face their deep-seated fear of commitment.

Disorganised attachment style  

A disorganised or fearful attachment style is often seen as a blend of anxious and avoidant attachment styles. People who fall under this category want closeness and a stable relationship but have an underlying fear of intimacy. If you don’t trust easily, need constant reassurance and validation, are often controlling towards your partner, and have trouble making decisions about your relationships, you might have a disorganised attachment style. 

This type of attachment style is not discussed as often as the other three. People who fit into this category, desire a connection but are terrified of getting hurt and as a result, tend to push people away. A lot of the time, this attachment style is a result of some severe trauma or abuse.

Secure attachment style  

People with a secure attachment style tend to maintain long-term relationships and can regulate their emotions (even during conflicts) effectively. They feel confident and secure enough within themselves to communicate their thoughts and feelings and aren’t scared of intimacy or rejection. If you fall under this category, chances are that you are emotionally intelligent, warm, loving, and can trust your partner wholeheartedly. 

Understanding your attachment style can help you navigate your relationships better 

Now that we’ve gone through all the attachment styles, hopefully, you’ve deduced which category you fall into. And once you do, it’s crucial to understand how your attachment style impacts the connections you forge as well as your behaviour in a relationship. It might tell you why your previous relationships didn’t work out or why you found yourself in a series of situationships despite swearing off them countless times.

Now there is nothing wrong with having an anxious, disorganised, or avoidant attachment style. However, understanding the negative characteristics—why you behave the way you do with your partner—is key to identifying patterns and blind spots that can affect your relationships and your dating life. Once recognise these patterns, you can easily communicate with your partner on how you can fill these gaps together. While changing your attachment style is not impossible, it can be a very slow and painful process.

Also read: Here is why you should flirt throughout your relationship, not just in the beginning

Also read: Small acts of love that can make your partner feel special