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What is Attachment in Relationships?

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Couple and child happily playing with a kite in a park. 5 Little Known Facts about Attachment

5 Little Known Facts about Attachment

Attachment is the buzz these days. Everyone seems to be an expert on the subject, teaching people about attachment styles and giving advice on how to develop healthier attachment. 

Some of the information is sound, but often, it is mixed with pop psychology trends, hearsay, and misinformation.

Such misunderstandings can lead people to believe that they are doomed in relationships, their parents are to blame, or they have the “wrong” type of attachment style.

The true purpose of attachment theory is to help people understand their coping strategies when their attachment or connection with a loved one feels threatened (real or perceived). It says nothing about your personality or who you are.

Many of these strategies are formed in childhood, based on your most significant relationships (i.e., with your caregivers). But they are not the only source of influence.

Below are other significant factors and other little known facts about attachment styles that are grounded in research. (You can read my series on attachment styles to understand the basics.)

  1. Caregivers are not the only influence on your attachment style: Additional factors during childhood that may contribute to your attachment style include significant adults (e.g., mentors, coaches, and friend’s parents), friendships or the lack of friends, bullying, uprooting and moving around, death of a loved one, and other significant life events.
  2. Attachment styles can influence partner selection: People often subconsciously seek partners who complement their childhood attachment style, as it feels familiar and comfortable. This perpetuates relational dynamics and patterns associated with their childhood. Recognizing this tendency can help individuals make conscious choices and seek partners who promote healthier attachment patterns.
  3. Attachment styles can be fluid and change over time: While attachment styles are typically formed during childhood, they are not set in stone. Through self-awareness, personal growth, and engaging in secure and supportive relationships as an adult, your attachment style can become healthier.
  4. One of the most powerful ways to attain secure attachment in adulthood is through an intimate partnership: Building trust, open communication, and emotional responsiveness with a partner can help individuals develop a more secure attachment style (even if they had insecure attachment patterns in the past) and improve their overall well-being in relationships.
  5. Cultural values and practices can influence the prevalence and manifestation of different attachment styles: Individualistic cultures that prioritize independence and autonomy may have higher rates of avoidant attachment, whereas collectivistic cultures that emphasize interdependence and communal values may have higher rates of anxious attachment.

Attachment styles subconsciously influence much of our relational life. By understanding our attachment styles and their impact on relationships, we can foster healthier connections with ourselves and others.

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