What is Attachment Theory?
According to Wikipedia, Attachment theory is a psychological, evolutionary, and ethological theory concerning relationships between humans.
Attachment - defined as, a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”
To elaborate. A need for human connection is naturally embedded in our programming.
In prehistoric times, those that relied on themselves were far less likely to survive than those who had at least one other person close to them. Having someone that intimately cares for you makes you far less susceptible to many kinds of dangers than if you're always "watching your own back." Due to this, over time, our #AttachmentSystem developed and is genetically passed on to ensure our survival.
Your attachment system is the part of you that tracks the availability of your attachment figures, or those you have an intimate bond with. Parents, siblings, partners, children, etc.
Yes, we all have an Attachment System, but the way we attach ourselves to others varies from person to person.
Attachment Theory doesn't care what race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or religion you are. Everybody falls under 1 of these 4 categories.
The 4 Attachment Styles:
An #Anxious individual craves intimacy, and their relationships are generally the center of their attention. They have a super sensitive attachment system, always on high alert for anything that might threaten their relationships. The slightest hint of an issue is all it takes to activate this attachment system. (Consuming thoughts and strategies for reestablishing the connection to their loved one.) Once activated, it requires "proof" that the relationship is safe before it will shut back down.
Of all the styles, research suggests that Anxious Preoccupied is the most intuitive to other people's emotions. Jumping to conclusions, however, is not uncommon. It's important for anxious individuals to remember to not jump the gun and react with emotional mind. If wise mind is applied, an anxious individual can hold a pretty powerful intuition card.
Around 20% of the population has an Anxious Preoccupied attachment style.
A #Dismissive individual associates intimacy with a loss of independence and therefore tries to minimize the amount of it in their life. They have the mindset that "my needs are rarely ever met, so I'll just take care of myself."
Avoidants are the worst of all the styles at reading the emotions of others, not only because they try to avoid emotions in general, but also because they don't feel like it's their responsibility to do so. They would far rather downplay the emotion if necessary, than have to face it.
Research also shows that Avoidands don't really date other Avoidans. They also tend to spend more time single than the other styles, so you're more likely to find them in the dating pool than Secure or Anxious individuals. After the mid 20's Secure people are usually married, and anxious people tend to stay in relationships even if they are short-lived.
Around 25% of the population has a Dismissive Avoidant attachment style.
Disorganized / Fearful Avoidant:
The #Disorganized style has a very hot and cold dynamic as individuals with this style flip back and forth between Anxious and Avoidant. They can idealize someone one day and completely ignore them the next. It's a combination of craving affection and avoiding closeness at all costs.
Luckily, it's the rarest of all the styles, as it's the hardest to live with for obvious reasons. Though it's not ideal, until you become secure, being one or the other, (anxious or avoidant) you are used to the "way you are." Disorganized individuals can flip to anxious or avoidant at any point, depending on what it was that triggered their attachment systems activation.
Around 3-5% of the population has a Disorganized Fearful Avoidant attachment style.
A #Secure individual feels comfortable with intimacy and for the most part, has no issue trusting that their needs will consistently be met. They are comfortable with their emotions, and the emotions of others. They don't worry that their partner is cheating, or assume people are going to walk out of their life at any point.
Naturally, reports show that couples with two secure partners tend to be the happiest couples. Surprisingly though, couples with one secure and one insecure partner report around the same level of success. This goes to show that a secure partner can help tremendously in the healing of an insecure partner.
Around 50% of the population has a Secure attachment style.
Each of the Attachment Styles differ in a lot of ways. Such as views on intimacy, relationship expectations, sexual preference, fighting style and conflict resolution, communication skills, and the way we interpret things.
When we speak, only 7% of the message is conveyed by the actual words we say. 93% of the message is conveyed through tone, body language, facial expressions, etc.
If I could recommend one thing to all families and couples involving a member that is Anxious, Avoidant, or Disorganized. It would be to learn as much as you can about Attachment Theory and your particular Attachment Styles. Knowing is the first step to healing, but also to preventing avoidable conflicts.
With effort and determination, you can work together towards a Secure Attachment for all.
Be sure you don't confuse an activated attachment system with love. This is NOT what nature intended for you.
For more on this see: The 5 Stages of Abandonment