Attachment theory is a model for understanding how children relate to their parents, which can also be used to understand how adults interact in intimate relationships.
There are two overarching modes of attachment in children and adults: As children, we develop our attachment style in relationship with our primary caregiver, who is also referred to as our attachment object.
If our primary caregiver is able to provide good-enough parenting, then we are able to internalize them as an attachment object. We are then able to carry them with us, secure in the knowledge that they will be there when we need them, developing enough confidence in the world to Dismissive avoidant attachment in adults forth without their physical accompaniment. This is what enables us to differentiate from our primary caregiver and to accomplish our own goals in life.
To the degree that this happens, we grow Dismissive avoidant attachment in adults with secure attachment. Switching to the perspective of the parent, our ultimate objective is to empower children to survive on their own, without our presence or moment-to-moment guidance.
Ultimately, we will die, and our children will continue, and hopefully they will achieve much more than we could in our own lives. Optimal parenting is a paradoxical practice: Practical parenting is usually Dismissive avoidant attachment in adults from optimal, however, and typical parental love is tainted with the selfish needs of an adult who did not get their attachment needs met as a child.
As a result, most parents, to at least some degree, attempt to get their attachment needs met by their children. Parenting is often extremely stressful, and because many of our parents had not developed secure attachment by the time we were born, we grew up into adults who struggle with insecure attachment ourselves. In broad terms, if our primary caregiver was unpredictably responsive, then we might have developed into adults with anxious-preoccupied attachmentwhich can lead to us appearing obsessive and angry in relationship; if they were overbearing or emotionally invasive, then we might have developed into adults with dismissive-avoidant attachmentwhich can lead to us appearing as cold and disinterested.
There is a third class of insecure attachment, which is called fearful-avoidant attachment in adults. This is usually the result of relatively severe early traumatic experiences, and manifests in behaviors that alternate between those of anxious-preoccupied attachment and those of dismissive-avoidant attachment.
This attachment style is also characterized by mistrust and reluctance to commit in relationship. When we became adults, we began to transfer the attachment bond that we had with our primary caregiver onto our romantic partners.
If we developed anxious-preoccupied attachment, then we are often attracted to, and seek relationship with, other adults who behave like our primary caregiver, which is usually people with dismissive-avoidant attachment. If we developed dismissive-avoidant attachment, then we are often attracted to, and seek relationship with, people with anxious-preoccupied attachment.
Likewise, people with fearful-avoidant attachment often end up paring with other people with fearful-avoidant attachment. Other mixtures are both possible and not uncommon. Under stress, we now behave with our partner as we did with our parent. If we have anxious-preoccupied attachment, we become highly distressed when separated from our partner, and aggressively angry— either actively or passively—on their return.
In the case of disorganized attachment, we express the anxiety of separation in a mixture of behaviors, including avoidance, distress, and anger. Secure attachment in adults is characterized by comfort with both intimacy and independence, and a generally positive regard for themselves, their partner, and the relationship.
It may be harder to accurately measure this statistic directly because adults may often shamefully hide their non-secure attachment traits in self-report questionnaires.
The good news for those of us who do not have secure attachment is that secure attachment can be developed during adulthood. This is called earned secure attachment. Nourishing and adaptive re-parenting experiences, which can occur in relationship with an adult who already has secure attachment, can lead to the fulfillment of developmental attachment needs, and to the internalization of a relatively optimal attachment object.
We can experience, and then learn to carry inside of us, relatively untainted parental love. There are many ways to experience this good-enough re-parenting, but it always occurs in relationship with another person attachment object who can exhibit secure attachment behaviors at least sometimes.
That other person might be a romantic partner, a psychotherapist, a coach, a mentor, or a friend.
A securely attached partner is not always necessary for one to develop secure attachment. Even though they cannot fulfill all of the attachment needs, pets may also be able to contribute to the construction of a securely held internal attachment object.
Other life circumstances and factors that can depend on secure attachment may also contribute to the development of it, such as consistent employment and supply of survival needs i.
I took an attachment style test about eight years ago, and I remember that I had fearful-avoidant attachment. I just took a test again, based on my experiences over the past four years with my wife Cindy. If you decide to take the test, I recommend paying for the report; I found it to be surprisingly good. Back then I doubted my intentions a lot more than I do now; I used to self-gaslight. I clearly now have secure attachment, which Cindy can attest to.
I have worked hard for this, regardless of whether I achieved it through earning secure attachment or by accepting my existing secure attachment. Over the past 16 years, I have Dismissive avoidant attachment in adults meditation extensivelyreceived large amounts of psychotherapy and coaching, and spent ample periods of time with loving mentors and friends.
Some of my romantic relationships have also included experiences conducive to secure attachment, which I was able to internalize and carry forward. All of this may have contributed to the development of my secure attachment.
This is how the test report summarizes my attachment style, which sounds absolutely spot-on:. Even though I currently have more secure attachment than Cindy, which we believe has been true for all of our relationship, the level of secure attachment that I came into our relationship with, four years ago, has probably deepened through the experiences that I have had in this relationship.
At times this was very stressful for me, and in the extremes I found myself being pulled by Dismissive avoidant attachment in adults anxious-preoccupied behavior towards dismissive-avoidant behavior.
At other times, I felt myself being pulled by her dismissive-avoidant behavior towards anxious-preoccupied behavior. It often felt like she was trying to test me.
I kept falling back on being as authentic and transparent as possible. Luckily, I had a strong enough level of secure attachment that I was able to hold steady and not be swung too far to those extremes. One of the tools I had at my disposal was a knowledge of attachment theory, so I could understand the source of her behavior patterns. This enabled me to take them less personally, and Dismissive avoidant attachment in adults understand that she was temporarily regressing to an earlier developmental stage.
I was able to reframe her attachment style Dismissive avoidant attachment in adults adorable, and I referred to it as adorable attachment. This, in itself, supported Cindy in developing secure attachment, because it removed the shame and stigma that surrounded and protected the old, no-longer-adaptive behaviors. After two years, both Cindy and I noticed a shift in our relationship, where the intensity of her insecure-attachment-related behaviors markedly reduced. She reported feeling much more secure in our relationship, able to trust that the relationship would persist and nourish her.
This is when she was able to stop focusing on me and the relationship and start focusing on herself and on developing her own power. This kind of relationship shift is a commonly seen phenomenon in couples where one has insecure attachment and the other has secure attachment.
Since that time, the intensity and frequency of those behaviors has reduced, and Cindy has increasingly behaved like someone with secure attachment. If you would like to read more about attachment theory, Cindy and I highly recommend Your Brain on Love which is only available in audio format and the Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiolog y. Some experts believe that it can take around six years to earn secure attachment through intimate relationship. Cindy and I are definitely on the path to that.
It has been a fulfilling journey.
I am grateful for everything we have been through together, and for where we are today. I am Dismissive avoidant attachment in adults grateful that that Cindy can utilize me so effectively as an attachment object, and will eventually internalize a representation of me.
Then she will no longer have an overwhelming need for me, and will be free to leave me if she wishes. I hope that our story gives hope and inspiration for others who are struggling with adorable attachment.
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