How Attachment Styles in Relationships Can Help You Understand Yourself and Your Partner

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Stephen Seger, LSW- Doctoral Student at Edward Jenny & Associates PC

Understanding attachment and what that means about ourselves can help us feel more connected in our relationships. Here is how!

What is Attachment?

John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist, and his colleagues first described Attachment Styles. We use Attachment style to describe the way people feel in intimate relationships with themselves and others. This term also has to do with the way people understand their feelings. Plus, it describes what those feelings tell them about the world around them.

The term “styles” refers to the different ways people may do just that. 

Types of Attachment Styles

Attachment styles are broken down into two categories- “Secure” and “Insecure”

The first style, secure, is a singular category on its and there are three other styles that fall under the “Insecure” umbrella.

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Here is a list of the styles and some traits of each.

Secure Attachment

Those with secure attachment can recognize and appreciate their own self-worth and value in relationships. They are more comfortable in seeking comfort and security in their romantic partner. This is because they feel more confident that their partner can support and connect with them. This security extends to outside of their intimate relationships, too. Secure individuals are more likely to believe in their own ability to achieve their goals.

Insecure Attachment

Anxious/Ambivalent

The world of anxiously attached adults is often one of conflict between a strong desire for a close and connected relationship but an uncertainty about relying on and trusting others. Anxiously attached individuals are often told by their partner that they are “needy” and anxiously attached people often feel that they are needy. This sense of neediness and insecurity often takes the form of consistent reassurance seeking regarding the status of the relationship or the stability of their partners feelings of love towards them. 

Avoidant/Dismissing

One key characteristic of avoidant attachment is a sense of fierce independence. In fact, Bowlby himself described the avoidantly-attached adult as “compulsively self-reliant.” Avoidant adults tend to deal with problems on their own before seeking help from others. In relationships, this often takes the form of the importance of the relationships being minimized. Those who are in relationships with avoidantly attached partners may sometimes feel as though they are not important. Or, that they just can’t connect with their partner in a deep or satisfying way. Those who are avoidantly attached often feel as though their partners are needy. 

Disorganized

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While trauma can take many forms, the key feature of those who develop the disorganized style is a history of trauma. This results in strong internal conflict about relationships as those relationships may be experienced as both a source of internal comfort and fear. There may be ongoing and repetitive problems with trusting partners. This is common in the relational history of those with disorganized attachment styles. Finally, the disorganized style itself results in more flooding of overwhelming feelings. Those who have a disorganized style are also more likely to rely on drugs and alcohol to cope with feelings.

What Do Attachment Styles in Relationships?

Each attachment style has an origin, and people may exhibit some signs of multiple attachment styles under different levels of stress. Learning more about our attachment style and that of our partner can help us make sense of the feelings that we experience in the context of our relationships and lives in general. Psychotherapy focused on attachment can help clients to understand their own needs, the challenges they experience in their lives, and how we respond to those challenges. 

Most importantly, having this knowledge can help us understand what we need from our relationships and learn how to get those needs met. The concept of “earned security” is a term used to describe the experience of moving towards a more secure attachment style through the process of therapy with an attachment-focused psychologist. This kind of change is the spur for people to feel closer, a deeper connection, and find a far more satisfying life.

Do You Want to Learn More About the Types of Attachment Styles?

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Understanding attachment styles in relationships can help you better connect with loved ones. Whether that is a partner, family, children, or friends. Better connections equal better understanding. Therapy in Kennett Square, PA can help you better see how others connect in relationships. If you believe you could benefit from this type of support, then we can help. Our Kennett Square counseling practice has caring and highly attachment therapists who specialize in relationships, trauma, anxiety, collaborative assessment and more. If you are ready to make changes and live a better life contact us to get started.

Other Counseling Services at Edward Jenny & Associates

Maybe you’re wondering how attachment styles in relationships can service you in other areas of life.  If you need additional help, we can serve you. Our therapists also specialize in collaborative assessmenttreatment for depression, counseling for college students, couples therapy and assessment, and treatment for anxiety.  We also provide an anxiety support group for those who work better in a community setting. Additionally, we offer consultation and supervision for those seeking professional support. We look forward to working with you and developing better mental health in-person or via online therapy in Pennsylvania!

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