Different Types of Attachment Styles

Hello and welcome to Therapy Cable. I am Dr. Ehsan Gharadjedaghi, a clinical psychologist. Today we are talking about attachment styles

In our previous discussions, we explored the origins and development of attachment styles. From John Bowlby’s pioneering research to the work of Eric Hesse and Mary Ainsworth, we’ve gained valuable insights into how our attachment styles form. One tool that has helped us understand these styles is the Adult Attachment Inventory, which provides an indication of an individual’s early attachment style. By understanding how attachment styles influence our reactions to situations, particularly in relationships, we can better comprehend how they impact our lives. So, let’s dive in and explore attachment styles!

If you haven’t watched the response video to Kati Morton’s Attachment Style YouTube video, I highly recommend checking it out in the link below. I won’t delve into the specifics discussed in that video, so it’s essential to watch it beforehand to gain a better understanding of attachment styles.

Let’s take a look at a simple diagram we’ve put together that breaks down the core components of attachment styles. There are two dimensions: anxiety and approachability, which are the building blocks of an attachment style. We’ve divided the diagram into four quadrants to make it easier to understand. The top-left quadrant, with low anxiety and high approachability, represents the secure attachment style. On the top-right, we have high anxiety and high approachability, which is the pre-occupied, anxious-preoccupied attachment style.

Moving to the bottom half of the diagram, we have two types of avoidant attachment styles because they fall under the low scale of approachability. The first type is peer avoidant, which is characterized by a lack of care for the environment and a lack of approachability. The second type is fearful avoidant, where individuals feel anxious inside but avoid people nonetheless.

In this depiction, we can see the four different attachment styles, all of which fall under the organized category. These styles are organized along the dimensions of anxiety and approachability, as we discussed earlier.

The fifth attachment style is the disorganized attachment style, which is correlated with conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, antisocial disorder, and criminal activities. This style is unique in that it doesn’t display any preferred attachment style and can flip at any given moment. Individuals with this style have experienced severe trauma in their attachments with others, leading them to have no predictable or reliable trajectory. They can be highly anxious, highly avoidant, or display some approachability, making them difficult to understand and predict.

Individuals with disorganized attachment styles tend to engage in faulty decision-making and end up in precarious situations with self-defeating consequences. They have a high threshold for pain and punishment, which allows them to thrive in environments where trouble and power play are the norms. They are capable of using pain and negative consequences in a functional way and may engage in complex, power-based interactions with others in the same category to assert control and maintain a sense of freedom. This attachment style can be particularly challenging to understand and treat, especially in environments with high restrictions and limited freedom, such as prison locations.

Disorganized Attachment Style is something we don’t see much of in our daily lives. It’s more common in forensic environments, where people are under control and restrictions. These individuals are not part of the regular population that we interact with, and they have limited freedoms. In contrast, the people we interact with in our everyday lives, such as family and colleagues, typically display organized attachment styles.

When it comes to romantic relationships, we can see a combination of attachment styles. This is something we will delve into today.

Have you ever wondered why you tend to attract people with similar or opposite attachment styles in your relationships? It turns out there are certain patterns and predictable interactions that occur between two individuals based on their attachment style.

Let’s say both people in a relationship have a secure attachment style, which is characterized by low anxiety and high approachability. In this case, their interactions would likely be smooth and conflict-free as they negotiate through problems or stressors.

Understanding these attachment styles can give us insight into how we behave in our relationships and help us navigate them more effectively. So, let’s take a closer look.

Let’s say you and your partner have different opinions on how to teach your child forgiveness. One of you might think it’s important to tolerate certain stressful situations and exercise forgiveness, while the other might believe that being too tolerant or forgiving can make you look weak and be taken advantage of.

So, how do you navigate this disagreement? It all depends on your approach to differences of opinion. If you both understand and accept that individuals have unique perspectives and don’t need to agree on everything, you can tolerate and respect each other’s opinions.

But if you’re less willing to accept different angles and perspectives, and believe that your way is the only way, you might take an adversarial position against each other, leading to conflict and a clash.

So, when it comes to teaching your child about forgiveness, find a way to balance both approaches. Teach them to be tolerant and forgiving, but also to stand up for themselves and their rights when necessary. Remember that differences of opinion can exist within a relationship, and it’s how you navigate those differences that can make all the difference.Even individuals with secure attachment styles can have disagreements and arguments, especially if they hold opposing views on important topics. However, having a secure attachment style means that even after a heated debate or argument, they can still walk away without questioning the value of their relationship. They may not be able to convince the other person to see their viewpoint, but they can agree to disagree and not let it affect their bond. They may choose to take a break from the discussion, seek a third opinion, or wait for a better time to continue the conversation. Ultimately, they value their relationship and are willing to find a way to work through any conflicts that arise.

In relationships, disagreements, and debates are normal. Even individuals with secure attachment styles may engage in adversarial viewpoints and argumentative discussions. However, what sets them apart is that these debates do not damage the core attachment between them.

Individuals with secure attachment styles do not let these debates translate into a lack of caring for one another. They do not suddenly question the foundation of their relationship or doubt the need for attachment. Instead, they approach these discussions with a rational and logical perspective while maintaining their attachment and anxiety levels.

Even when debates escalate into highly intense emotional discussions, individuals with secure attachment styles maintain their approachability toward each other. They do not avoid each other or regard their partner as an opponent.

It is important to understand that disagreements can happen in relationships, but it is how we handle them that matters. As long as individuals maintain their attachment and respect towards each other, debates and disagreements can be healthy and productive.

When it comes to relationships, disagreements, and arguments are bound to happen. But what sets a secure attachment apart is the ability to separate those issues from the foundation of the relationship. In other words, no matter how intense the disagreement gets, it does not damage the attachment between two people.

It’s important to note that this is not something everyone can do. Only a small fraction of the population possesses the skill to navigate both the intensity of communication and the level of attachment. But for those who can, it’s a testament to the strength of their secure attachment.

The concept of a secure base and safe haven is at play here. It’s a subconscious understanding that one’s partner represents these psychological and emotional positions, even reaching a spiritual connection. Essentially, a person with a secure attachment knows that their partner always has their back.

It’s not something that’s consciously talked about, but it’s a vital part of what makes a secure attachment work. So, next time you find yourself in an argument with your partner, remember that it doesn’t have to damage your attachment. Separating the issues at hand from your attachment can help you navigate the disagreement and come out stronger on the other side.

In relationships, it’s common to disagree with one another and emotionally drift apart. However, there is often a secure base that we can always go back to, someone who has our back and who we feel safe enough with. Even if we distance ourselves from them due to disagreements, we know that we can always take a breather and return to them without questioning their safety.

This phenomenon can be broken down into two halves: high approachability and low approachability. Those who possess high approachability have already taken the first step toward establishing a secure attachment. They are approachable and are not avoidant, which makes it easier to establish a connection. On the other hand, those who fall under the low approachability category may find it difficult to establish a secure attachment because they lack the desire or skill to approach others or perceive others as approachable.

It’s important to recognize the value of having a secure base in a relationship. It allows us to feel grounded and safe, even during times of disagreement or emotional distance. By understanding the importance of approachability in establishing a secure attachment, we can work towards building stronger and more fulfilling relationships.

When it comes to establishing secure relationships, approachability plays a critical role. However, some individuals may struggle with this, having learned that others are generally not approachable or safe. This core issue of attachment can be the hardest obstacle to overcome in establishing a secure relationship.

The upper right quadrant is already halfway through establishing a secure relationship but what they may be missing is self-regulation and self-soothing. These individuals may rely heavily on their partners to calm their anxiety, leading to codependency. This style is commonly seen in preoccupied individuals who may project a certain level of responsibility onto their partner to take care of their inner feelings and emotions.

Instead of engaging in self-soothing behaviors, such as taking a walk or doing a relaxing activity, they become highly dependent on their partner to change. In their mind, their partner’s engagement and affection take top priority, and anything that helps them calm down takes less importance. This need for their partner’s engagement may manifest in verbal or nonverbal communication that shows care, empathy, or understanding.

Learning to rely on internal and external resources for self-soothing can be a significant step toward establishing a secure attachment. By recognizing and addressing codependency, individuals can take control of their emotions and build a stronger foundation for a healthy relationship.

The key difference between a secure attachment and an anxious-preoccupied attachment is the ability to self-regulate. An individual with a secure attachment has already established a halfway point toward a healthy relationship but may lack self-soothing skills. On the other hand, those with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style lack self-regulation and depend heavily on their partner to soothe their emotions.

The preoccupied partner tends to demand a certain action and reaction from their partner in the present moment. They often feel incapable of calming down by themselves, leading to a high dependence on others. This dependence channels their anxiety about the relationship into their attachment and reliance on their partner, resulting in a lack of self-regulation.

Learning self-soothing strategies is the other 50% of the equation. By becoming more interdependent and learning to independently self-soothe, individuals can solve this problem. They can do certain things on their own to calm themselves down, away from their significant other, or even with the help of other individuals over time. Developing these skills will lead to a healthier and more secure attachment style.

It’s common to rely on your partner for comfort and support when things get rough. But when this reliance becomes too intense, it can create a cycle of anxiety and dependence that’s difficult to break. This is especially true for those with a preoccupied anxious attachment style, who struggle to regulate their own emotions and instead channel their anxiety into their attachment to their partner.

The key issue here is that the anxious partner becomes almost demanding in their need for immediate action and reaction from their partner. They feel incapable of calming down without their partner’s help, leading to a high level of dependence on others. This lack of self-regulation can be detrimental to the relationship, creating a sense of suffocation for the other person.

To break this cycle, the preoccupied anxious individual must learn self-soothing strategies. This means becoming more interdependent and learning how to calm themselves down without relying solely on others. This can be achieved through various actions and behaviors that they can engage in alone, without the need for someone else to be present. By gradually transitioning to a more self-reliant mindset, they can become content and happy spending time alone, without feeling lonely or overly dependent on others. Ultimately, it’s about valuing the time spent alone and learning to enjoy it as an essential part of their lives.

Let’s talk about the combination of different attachment styles in relationships. While it’s not uncommon for partners to have different attachment styles, having a secure partner along with any of the other three styles can actually be a great combination. When things are going well and the person’s psychological resources are intact and functioning properly, we tend to see the insecure partner gravitate towards becoming more secure. This happens through role modeling, observation, and vicarious learning, where they learn to emulate the secure partner’s style.

However, if a person’s psychological faculties are not functioning well, such as experiencing trauma or significant life-changing events, the influence of the other insecure attachment styles can be so strong that even a secure partner can become more insecure. So, while having a secured partner can be a positive influence on a preoccupied partner, external factors can also impact the relationship and potentially change the dynamics. In the next section, we’ll explore this further.

Thanks for reading! In my next blog post, I’ll dive into the other two attachment styles and explore how different combinations of these styles can impact the quality of a relationship.

Make sure to stay tuned and watch the other attachment-style videos. We value your feedback, so please feel free to leave your comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe for more educational content on attachment styles, relationships, and other psychological principles.

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