In an ideal world, people should love without possessing, accompany without invading, and live without depending. But we do not live in an ideal world and those who are by our side love us and relate to us in their own way, as they have been taught to love and relate.
Breaking these patterns to get them to love us the way we want is quite complicated, which is why in some relationships we reach a tipping point where we have to consider whether to accept that type of relationship or keep our distance.
Attachment styles in relationships are created in childhood
Attachment is a primary emotional bond that we establish during the first years of life with the people who take care of us. Those attachment figures, which are usually parents, greatly influence our emotional development.
From them we learn the language of intimacy that we will use later with our children or in our relationships. Therefore, the satisfaction or dissatisfaction with our need for safety, affection, attention and care in childhood will largely determine how we try to meet those needs in adulthood.
1. Secure attachment style
To develop a secure attachment style, parents must not only show genuine concern for their child's care, but also be able to understand and meet his or her needs, without being overly invasive, but not irresponsible either.
They are helpful and receptive people who respond warmly and thoughtfully. They are aware that they have to take care of the baby, but they also take on their otherness, so they don't treat it as if it were an appendage of themselves. They therefore take on the role of carers and facilitators, leaving the child the freedom he needs to develop and find his role in the world.
Those children will become adults:
- Autonomous and self-confident. They are people who consider themselves complete, they do not seek the other to complete something they lack but to share their love.
- They know how to choose the people who make up their circle of trust. These people know how to identify toxic people in interpersonal relationships to distance themselves from them and those with whom they can build a constructive relationship. They are selective in their relationships.
- They develop more fulfilling relationships. These people are able to engage in the relationships they build, showing more trust and support, which affects the satisfaction of both of them in the relationship.
- They have a realistic idea of love. These people do not have a softened view of love, they are aware that it involves commitment and hard work on both sides. They also consider that it is possible to live without a partner in a satisfactory way.
2. Avoidant attachment style
This attachment style often comes from rigid examples. People who come to show rejection and hostility towards children, thus failing to meet their basic needs for affection. They show some aversion to contact, limiting the time they spend with the baby.
They are usually parents who think their children's emotional needs are excessive, the result of a weakness, tantrum, or even an attempt to manipulate them, so they set a distance that leaves the children isolated.
These children will become adults:
- Emotionally pseudo-autonomous. They present themselves as cold and difficult people because they want to show that they do not depend on anyone, but in reality it is a false defensive autonomy that they use to disguise their emotional insecurities.
- They fear intimacy. These people avoid intimacy for fear of feeling rejected. That's why they tend to establish emotionally distant relationships, have a hard time engaging and establishing communication barriers.
- They find it difficult to express their feelings. These are people who, by repressing their feelings, can experience genuine emotional analgesia. In turn, they are deaf to their partner's emotional needs, so they maintain deeply unsatisfying relationships that leave an emotional void.
- They don't believe in love. These people, due to the rejection received, usually harbor a pessimistic idea of love, they believe that it exists only in romantic films, so they do not open up to experience this feeling.
3. Anxious or ambivalent attachment style
In this case, the attachment figures are not hostile but callous, although when they are lively and happy they can be more sensitive, affectionate and competent, recognizing and satisfying the needs of the child. The problem is those oscillations between sensitivity and insensitivity, which generate an uncertain scenario that the child cannot foresee.
The child has to deal with inconsistent and fickle parents who sometimes pay attention to him and others ignore him. Sometimes they show that it disturbs them, other times they show themselves close and sensitive. This ambivalence generates a strong anguish in children which causes a great hypersensitivity, making their search for affection constantly active.
These children often become adults:
- Insecure and dependent. They are insecure and emotionally unstable people who fear loneliness, so it is difficult for them to live without a partner. This leads them to anxiously seek each other's company, which can lead them to improperly choose toxic partners.
- Fearful of loss. The fear of abandonment and loss of the other person generates a great insecurity that highlights jealousy, oppressive and controlling behaviors in the relationship. This scenario of distrust and excessive demand for affection creates unsatisfactory relationships.
- They develop ambivalent behaviors. These people will show the same ambivalent behaviors that they have suffered: even wishing to be with the people they love, they will sometimes feel annoyed by them, being able to experience a very strong anger produced by an excessive perception of abandonment in the face of normal behaviors. of separation.
- They have a contradictory idea of love. They tend to think that love affairs are the most important thing in the world, but they also believe that they are rare, so they usually take a victimizing attitude in relationships.
How to change the attachment style?
“Loving is the art of loving the other person as he truly wants to be loved, not so much as one wants to love”, wrote Erich Fromm. The attachment style is a relational model we carry from childhood, but it is not a definitive sentence.
Although the types of attachment formed in childhood persist as patterns in the representative adult world, these patterns become more complex as we grow, reinterpret and adapt them based on our experiences. Therefore, while they tend to be stable and perpetuating, they can also be flexible and evolve with the most rewarding attachment experiences.
This means that when we are faced with a significant person with an anxious or avoidant attachment style, we have two options: to accept that person unconditionally, but to establish a psychological safety distance that protects us or to help them change.
This change does not happen overnight, it requires patience and time. And it doesn't depend on words but on actions, which means that it can only be promoted by love and affection.
That person must understand that commitment and freedom are not contrary, that we can accompany without invading and love without suffocating. She should also feel confident enough to trust us and freely express her feelings. Only then can he get rid of his insecurities to relate independently on an emotional level.