The Ties That Bind or Break: Characteristics of attachments styles

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I was lying in bed one morning, half-listening to a tech guy on the radio talking about his choice for phone app of the week, when he mentioned something interesting: Facebook automatically filters messages from people with whom you are not friends.

“You may have TONS of secret messages that never ended up in your inbox!” he exclaimed excitedly.

Intrigued by the possibility that actor Jason Statham may have responded to my Facebook message entailing how awesome he is, I logged into Facebook to inspect this auto-filter folder…only to discover a year-old message from an old friend who flat out professed his undying love for me. I won’t go into detail about the contents, but in summary, he broke up with his on-again off-again girlfriend for the final time (famous last words), and immediately thought of me, and how this was his opportunity to finally be with the person he felt he was meant to be with (i.e. yours truly).

My jaw dropped. After half-yelling, “Damn youuuuu Facebook” in my best Wrath of Khan voice, I immediately responded to the message, apologizing for the delay, explaining Facebook’s muck-up, and asking how he was doing. Turns out, they had gotten back together, and were now engaged.

I’m not saying I would have jumped into the relationship with both feet. I knew he was on the rebound, but most importantly, I knew his history with her. They both have issues that they never sought therapy for. She depends on him but also controls him. He tends to be submissive and indecisive, and has an intense need to rescue her, no matter how poorly she treats him. Could they each find someone better? Absolutely. Could they each find someone who is emotionally healthy AND willing to put up with their emotional baggage and insecurities? Not very likely. So they stay with each other, in spite of the fact that they have a deeply intense and highly combustible codependent relationship.

Which brings me to today’s blog topic: Characteristics of different attachment styles. When I examined data from Queendom’s Relationship Attachment Style Test, here’s what stood out:

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The Anxious-Ambivalent Style

You may have this attachment style if:

  • You get easily attached to people.
  • You disregard your own needs and focus on pleasing your partner.
  • You cling to your partner and the relationship likes it’s the only thing that matters.
  • You only feel good about yourself if your partner compliments you or praises you.
  • You obsessively worry that your partner doesn’t care about you as much as you care about him/her.
  • You stress yourself out with worries that your partner will break up with you.
  • You believe you’re life would be miserable and unbearable without them.

The Dismissive Avoidant Style

You may have this attachment style if:

  • You don’t like depending on your partner, or people in general; you’d rather be self-reliant.
  • You need A LOT of space in a relationship and dislike partners who call frequently or want to spend time with you.
  • You’ve built up emotional walls, making it hard for people to get to know you and feel close to you.
  • You may rationalize to yourself that it’s better not to develop attachments because it only leads to emotional pain.
  • You have a hard time fully trusting the people you date.
  • If your partner ever dared to mistreat you, you’d dump their sorry butt without a second thought. (This is a good thing!)

The Fearful Avoidant Style

This type is mix of the Anxious and Dismissive. You may have this attachment style if:

  • You want to get close to a partner, but are afraid of getting hurt.
  • You want emotional intimacy but choose instead to keep your partner at a distance in order to protect your heart.
  • Like the Anxious style, you worry that your partner doesn’t care for you as much as you’d like him/her to.
  • You’re convinced your partner will dump you at some point for someone better. When it does happen (because you end up creating the exact circumstances that you fear as a result of your worries and insecurities) you are left feeling devastated, cynical, and jaded about love.
  • Like the Dismissive style, you’re afraid to trust your partner (most people, in fact). Trust requires vulnerability – a willingness to open up your heart and put it on the line – which could leave you susceptible to disappointment and betrayal. Fearful-Avoidant people are always trying to strike a precariously delicate balance!

The Codependent  Style

This type is mix of all the previous types. You may have this attachment style if:

  • You develop attachments quite easily yet also put up walls to protect yourself because you worry about whether your partner reciprocates your love.
  • You’re always trying to fix people, and are drawn to partners who have emotional baggage or other issues for which they should be seeking professional help.
  • You want your partner to rely entirely and exclusively on you, even if that means that the relationship is completely unbalanced and your needs are left unmet.
  • You do everything you can to please your partner so that he/she won’t leave you.
  • Your self-esteem and sense of self-worth is entirely dependent on what your partner thinks of you and how he/she feels about you.
  • As demanding as the relationship is, you’re worried that you won’t be able to find anyone else. You repress your resentment for fear of being rejected.
  • You want total control of the relationship and yet, deep down you believe that you would be totally useless without your partner.
  • You believe that you are responsible for your partner’s happiness (a HUGE misconception that many people have in relationships, not just codependents. Remember, while you may enhance your partner’s life, their happiness is their own responsibility – it is not your burden to bear).

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So what about the remaining attachment style aka the Secure people? Well, if none of the above reflects your typical feelings and behaviors in relationships, chances are you have a secure attachment style. If some of the above points did ring true for you, it might be a good idea to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Seek professional help from a therapist or life coach. An insecure attachment style can lead to jealous, possessive, or controlling behavior, which almost always drives a partner away. If you feel your anxiety, mistrust, dependency, or insecurity is more than you can handle and is seriously affecting your relationship and happiness, consider counseling with a professional. A counselor can help you get to the root of your insecurities and deal with them more effectively.
  • Don’t generalize your relationship. Maybe your parents divorced when you were a child or a partner left you just when you thought the relationship was going great. Whatever the reason for your relationship insecurities, it’s understandable that you would get nervous when you feel yourself getting close to someone. Realize, however, that not all relationships are the same. Generalizing the potential for abandonment to all relationships can lead you to experience anxiety even when things are going well. Learn to read the cues: if the relationship is progressing, don’t look for things to worry about. Enjoy it and don’t be afraid to let your guard down. Yes, there is the potential for rejection and hurt, but these are the risks we must take if we want love.
  • Create a balance. It’s important to maintain your individuality in a relationship – to have your own interests, hobbies, and maybe even friends. Spending time apart allows you to do your own thing and will make you appreciate your partner more when you’re together. Demanding all of someone’s time and attention is unreasonable and unfair, but so is creating too much of an emotional distance.

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Insightfully yours,

Queen D

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