The way we tend to attach to another person has a big impact on how we choose our life partner, how we continue to develop our relationship with him or her and, unfortunately, how that relationship ultimately ends,” Lisa Firestone, a family relationship therapist and psychologist, tells Psychology Today.
According to her, it’s important to understand what type of attachment is most typical for you, so that you can recognise your strengths and vulnerabilities in relationships.
“The attachment pattern you have is a lifelong one, with the beginnings and foundations laid in childhood. As an adult, this pattern functions and shapes your relationships with other people and influences your reactions to getting your needs met. It is important to understand this pattern to know how and why you behave in certain situations and to see where you need to improve.
The descriptions of attachment patterns will help you find out which pattern is specific to you,” says Firestone, who gives descriptions of 4 types.
Secure attachment model – these people are usually quite happy in their relationships. In childhood, they saw their parents as a secure base from which they could explore the world independently. The Secure Attachment Model person behaves in a similar way in relationships, where they feel a sense of security and connection to the person they love, giving both themselves and their partner freedom. As a result, their relationships are characterised by sincerity, openness, equality and the independence of both partners while loving each other.
The Nervous Attachment Model – These people often unconsciously create a fantasy bond in their relationships, so that instead of true love and trust, they often feel emotional hunger. Most of the time, what they really need is a partner as a “saviour” or a missing piece to complete them. And although this type of person seeks a partner in order to feel safe leaning on him/her, their actions tend to alienate them.
Often, people with a nervous attachment pattern act desperately because they feel insecure all the time, and this behaviour only adds to their worst fears. When they feel insecure about their partner’s feelings or insecure in the relationship, they become extremely demanding, clingy and possessive. They also interpret their partner’s desire to be independent as a fulfilment of their own fears.
If the partner starts to interact more with other people, the person may think: “Maybe I’m not enough for him/her? Maybe he/she doesn’t love me? That means he/she will probably leave me…”.
Avoidance-attachment model – people in this model tend to emotionally distance themselves from their partner. Often they try to withdraw in order to feel “pseudo-independent” and take care of themselves. “Pseudo-independence” is really an illusion, as every human being needs a relationship, but this truth is fiercely denied by people of the avoidant-attachment model. Just as they deny the importance of having a lover, so it is not difficult for them to distance themselves from him/her.
Often these people have a lot of self-preservation, and can emotionally ‘shut down’, ‘switch off’ their feelings and not react at all, even in the hottest emotional situations.
If their partner is angry and says he/she will leave them, all you will hear is: “I don’t care”.
The fearful attachment model is an ambivalent type, where the person is afraid of being too close or too distant from their partner. This type of person tries to control their feelings, but usually struggles to do so because when they feel anxious or try to run away from their feelings completely, they often end up with the opposite result: emotional storms. Their moods are often unpredictable or unclear, which is very damaging to their relationships.
This type of person tries to get closer to their partner, but at the same time is extremely afraid of being hurt. In other words, the person who can give them security is also the person they are extremely afraid of getting close to. They are afraid of being abandoned, but also of not being able to build emotional closeness; they become demanding when they feel their partner is distant, or they feel imprisoned when they feel too close to their partner.
These people very often become involved in dramatic, tumultuous or even toxic, damaging relationships with very frequent ups and downs.