Updated: Jul 23
Attachment styles shape relationships. Bowlby discovered four attachment styles, i.e., Avoidant, Ambivalent, Disorganized, and Secure, that are created during infancy and persist throughout a lifetime. In a nutshell, Avoidants are self-possessed individuals who avoid emotions and intimate connections. Ambivalents (also known as Anxious or Insecure) desire close connections but have an intense fear of rejection and abandonment. The Disorganized are overwhelmed by the intensity of emotion and intimacy and vacillate between seeking and fleeing from it. Securely attached people are comfortable with their own emotions and vulnerabilities and those of the partners (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006).
One’s attachment style becomes a lens through which he/she experiences life. Our brains are phenomenally efficient at creating schemas, intellectual frameworks, that help us recognize and categorize experiences (Murdock, 2017). As noted in my previous post, Pre-marital Counseling – Communication Skills, these schemas create our reactions. For example, an Ambivalent is hypersensitive to rejection cues and is more likely to interpret an unreturned phone call as rejection and withdrawal from the person than is a Securely attached person.
Trust is at the core of attachment. Therefore, the attachment style developed in childhood can change. You are not relegated to being Avoidant, Ambivalent, or Disorganized. You can learn to trust yourself and cultivate trust with your partner and develop a Secure attachment style.
Contact me if you would like help cultivating secure attachment within your relationship.
Angela W. Startz, MAHSC, CCLC
Clinton, T. & Sibcy, G. (2006). Why you do the things you do: The secret to healthy relationships. Thomas Nelson.
Murdock, N. L. (2017). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: A case approach (4th ed.). Pearson.