Relationship Attachment Styles: Is it all BS? (Warning: personal content ahead!)
Recently, I listened to a podcast by Maddy Moon (Host of the Mind Body Musings podcast) all about attachment styles that manifest in romantic relationships. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I was reading this then right about now I would be having a reaction that would go something like this…
‘Ugh! Attachment styles… Relationships are meant to be whimsical and beautiful. Love isn’t so goddam structured.’
And then I would stop reading and walk off to kiss my partner in a huff to make a point. But, I urge you to stay with me! Let’s just play with this idea for a second.
Maddy was discussing a book that she’s been reading called ‘Attached. The new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find- and keep-love’ by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller. Within the book, it discussed 3 scientifically proven adult relationship styles, and how understanding them can help people to navigate successful relationships.
The 3 relationship styles are:
Anxious: Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner's ability to love them back.
Avoidant: Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.
Secure: Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.
Now, obviously the book delves much deeper into each style but I bet that right about now you’re resonating with one of the styles I just mentioned, and you’re either feeling empowered because you believe that you are a ‘secure’ person, or maybe a little embarrassed or shameful because you relate to one of the other two.
The reason that this podcast appealed to me so much is because I can relate not only to one attachment style but to two. In high school, when my now fiancé (eeee!) and I started dating, I was passionately and unabashedly anxious. All that mattered to me was our relationship, and the only opinion I cared about was his. My mind was constantly pre-occupied with what he was doing, thinking, eating and who he was socialising with. I put him on a pedestal and it was my self-appointed goal to be all that he needed. My worst fear in life is that he would leave me and I would be (in my head) nothing. Because of this anxious attachment style that I was embodying, our relationship ended up depleting, and we broke up shortly before graduation.
Fast forward 8 years and things look a whole lot different! (Thank the lord! That shit was exhausting.) After spending a year apart, and a whole lot of time spent getting to know and love myself, we eventually rekindled our relationship. I can now safely say that I resonate with the secure attachment style. I no longer exert all my energy wondering when he will text me back, what he’s doing or what he thinks about me. Instead, we’ve cultivated a relationship whereby we each have our own interests and hobbies. We each have our own friends and social activities. We gift each other the independence and freedom to live our own lives, and we celebrate and cherish the time we spend together. Our relationship is conscious and loving and supportive. Light years away from what it was almost a decade ago.
I tell this story because sometimes when we read about such things as ‘attachment styles’ or ‘personality types’ or ‘love languages’, we feel like we either have to fit in a box or there’s something wrong with us. I believe that structures such as this one, can help us to understand our lives in a more conscious way but are not in fact, as rigid as they may appear. Sometimes we don’t fit any of the categories, and sometimes, as in my case, we move fluidly between a few of them. My aim in writing this, is for you to gain some clarity about your own relationship, or dating life, and maybe make some changes or simply gain some insight into your behaviour and the behaviour of other people in your life.
If this information has been of interest to you, I encourage you to check out Maddy’s podcast which I’ve linked to below.
I’ve also included a link to Amazon, where you can order a copy of ‘Attached. The new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find- and keep-love’ by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller.
With secure attachment,
P.s. Tag, you’re it! I’ve shared, now it’s your turn. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if this post resonated with you and you want to connect.