05 Apr How Your Attachment Styles Impact Your Relationship
Whether you have been in a relationship for a month, a year, or 25 years, we are certain you’ve noticed this one thing – you and your partner approach your relationship slightly differently. Often, couples manage to work through these differences with ease. Other times, couples end up getting caught up in endless conflicts simply because their approach to the relationship differs. This can often be explained by a couples’ ‘attachment styles’. We will explain what that means now.
According to psychiatrist Dr. John Bowlby, each of us develop something called an ‘attachment style’ in childhood. This attachment style then forms a framework for how we conduct ourselves in adult relationships (romantic or otherwise). This theory is widely respected in psychological circles and most couples therapists (including the therapist we use for our couples retreats) are familiar with the concept. By knowing your attachment style, and identifying your partner’s, you can work more harmoniously to have a healthy relationship. You can also resolve conflicts with ease.
So what are the four different styles?
The 4 Attachment Styles
The first attachment style is ‘anxious’. Anxious attachment style is basically a profound fear of abandonment and a great need for reassurance and safety. If you are anxiously attached, you may have been described by others as ‘clingy’ or ‘needy’. Why does this happen? Well, the theory suggests that in childhood, caregivers would have been unpredictable with affections, one moment being claustrophobic and other moments being withdrawn. With no real consistency, a child will become anxious as to what might happen next. In adulthood, this means fearing unpredictability and worrying that something might be wrong, even if it isn’t.
In arguments or conflict, you might seek heavy reassurance that the argument isn’t going to end the relationship. You might withhold feelings or comments in fear of abandonment. You might also read into situations the wrong way (e.g. he’s spent too long at work today, he must be avoiding me, I need some reassurance from him that this isn’t the case).
People in relationships with anxiously attached people can feel tired and worn out from the constant accusations and need to reassure. This in itself can then cause a spiral of problems.
Avoidantly attached people are highly conflict averse and wish to ‘keep the peace’. They value space and don’t like to feel smothered. This can manifest as emotional unavailability within relationships. Avoidant people were likely raised by parents who were unresponsive, dismissive or emotionally distant. The child would learn the independence is the key to survival, which then manifests in adulthood as a profound need for space. If the avoidant person is in a relationship with an anxious person, the combination can be highly dramatic, as one person needs to escape while the other chases them.
Avoidant people are not unloving, just worried about getting too close in fear of hurt. This is a wound that can be healed through couples therapy, perhaps while on one of our luxury retreats for couples.
Fearful-avoidant attachment style is a mixture of the anxious attachment and avoidant attachment. It is a highly complicated attachment style that, if left unaddressed, can cause a lot of relationship problems. It causes a need for intimacy, but also a fear of it. This causes a push/pull effect, and potentially some psychological games. The childhoods of these people will have been frightening or traumatic in order for this attachment style to develop. It’s important that work is done to try and achieve a more secure attachment style, or the relationship suffers.
As the word implies, someone with a secure attachment style is secure within themselves and their relationships. They learned that childhood was a safe space, and were given boundaries by parents, as well as consistent love and attention. A securely attached person can resolve conflicts in a healthy way, isn’t scared of intimacy and knows how to achieve a healthy life balance.
How can attachment styles affect relationships?
Some couples find they are stuck in certain patterns, or have what feels like the same argument over and over again. This is often because their attachment styles aren’t aligned or resolved.
If you think this might be the case, you can attend one of our spa vacations or romantic getaways and speak to our world renowned couples therapist as part of the process.
Here are some common ways attachment styles can affect relationships.
- Feeling rejected and abandoned regularly
- Worrying constantly about the state of the relationship
- Finding it hard to let certain issues go
- Highly sensitive to criticism
- Looking for problems
- Disliking change
- Feeling suspicious
- Finding it hard to give space, especially after an argument
- Needing reassurance
- Seeming clingy, smothering or unboundaried
- Feeling worried about getting too close and pulling away as a result
- Finding it hard to stay in relationships past a certain point
- Finding it hard to commit
- Difficulty making plans
- Fantasising about other people
- Nit picking to find faults / reasons to run away
- Feeling smothered
- Disliking the feeling of responsibility for others
- Might be more prone to having affairs
- Seeking love and attention in excess
- Rejecting those who give too much love or attention
- Causing arguments
- Reluctance to share feelings
- Low view of self and others
- Can’t end the relationship but also don’t enjoy it
- Cannot trust
- Emotional disregulation
- Disassociate with feelings
What can you do?
Here is the good news. Everyone has an attachment style and ‘securely’ attached people do not form the majority, meaning your issues are not rare and can be solved. By attending one of our luxury holidays you can:
- Take a step back and examine your attachment style
- Take time to learn about your partner’s attachment style
- Learn about attachment styles with our couples therapist
- Improve your relationship
- Go home as a renewed, replenished couple
If you are both committed to getting a better relationship and moving into a secure attachment, check out our spa vacations and secret escapes. We guarantee there will be something you love on our destinations page.