The impact of attachment styles on relationships

Therapy Comments Off on The impact of attachment styles on relationships , , ,


The first years of life are vital for one’s physical and emotional development. In order for a child to grow into a healthy and happy adult, emotional nurture is as important as the food they are given. The main care giver is responsible for the emotional nurturing of the child and, based on one’s relationship with their main care giver, people develop different types of attachment. Secure attachment and insecure attachment (anxious avoidant and anxious ambivalent) are the main types. While a securely attached child will develop into an adult who can enter, enjoy and sustain healthy relationships, insecurely attached children will grow into anxious adults who will struggle to enter and to keep happy relationships.

Here’s how the attachment style impacts us and the relationship we develop as adults:

Secure attachment

As a child, they tend to explore the environment independently and they see the parents as a secure base they can always return to. As adults, they are able to develop secure connections with their romantic partners and experience more satisfaction than the insecurely attached people. They will often be happier, offering the other partner the freedom they need and taking that for themselves. They will be able to ask for help from their partner when in difficulty and offer support to others when asked. The relationships they have tend to be equal, mature and honest. There is a general degree of independence that both partners enjoy without fearing dishonesty or abandonment. Finally, there is no need for control or for compensatory fantasies. None of the partners has to comply with the other partner’s expectation in order to feel loved and wanted. The partners are themselves and love each other for who they are, not for the needs their presence might satisfy in the other.

Insecure avoidant attachment

Due to a physically or psychologically absent care giver, who didn’t respond properly to a child’s needs or who repeatedly ignored his/her cries, the child developed an insecure avoidant attachment style. That means that, as adults, they will refuse to entertain strong feelings for anyone because they might be hurt again. They have trust issues and a fear of commitment. They are the people who will have many short-term relationships, who have a cynical attitude towards love and who will leave the relationship as soon as it starts to look serious. They are unresponsive to their partner’s needs and they often prefer to break the relationship rather than be there for their other half. It feels like a huge emotional pressure to give or receive love because, deep down, they are still the children who had been hurt when they needed love and responsiveness the most.

Insecure ambivalent attachment

While their parents were relatively present during a child’s first years, they showed no consistency in responding to the child’s needs. The child grew into a confused adult who needs to scream for attention and feels like they never get all the love they need. They are the people who enter often rocky relationships where they ask for permanent reassurance, worry a lot about being left and would do anything to keep their partner. Their fear of abandonment can sometimes make them prisoners of unhealthy relationships, where they might tolerate abusive behaviours just because, in their opinion, having someone who is not suitable for them is better than being lonely.
They can’t see the other person for who they are and often their partner’s image is pure fantasy. Behind this confused state of mind there is an angry and scared child who hasn’t been cared for properly, who keeps trying to repair the damage the care giver did by not seeing him/her, not listening to him/her and, most importantly, not loving him/her for what he/she was.

While there is no such thing as a pure attachment style, most adults tend to adopt one of these types. Relationships are the playground where people can grow, develop and bloom, and the attachment style we have can make that process pleasant, difficult or even impossible. If you or someone you know is having a rocky relationship and always ends up with ‘the wrong person’, it might be because of their attachment style. Individual therapy, as well as couple or family therapy, can help people identify their attachment style and support them in healing the inner child who has been mistreated. Nurturing your inner child means giving yourself the chance to a happier relationship, a more meaningful life and a better model for your children, if you have or decide to have them. A better tomorrow for yourself and your loved ones can start today, so feel free to get in touch if you need any support.

Looking for love: why some people can’t find a partner

Articles Comments Off on Looking for love: why some people can’t find a partner , , , ,

girl-in-light-darkness-1437166It’s said that love makes the world go round and studies seem to support that: people in long-term commitments, such as marriage, are happier and in better health than those who are single or uncommitted.

However, there are many people who claim they can’t find a partner despite their wish to. What hinders their intentions? It can be many things, but usually they fall in two main categories of reasons…

  1. They don’t actively look for a partner or they look in the wrong place

After a certain age, most of us have a routine based life: job, a bit of fun in our spare time, the same circle of friends, the same neighbourhood. In this context, it becomes tricky to find the one because our range of choices is limited. Luckily today there are many other options when searching for potential partners, from online dating to joining local hobby clubs. However, many people are reluctant to try such options and think it’s not ‘their style’ to actively look for a partner. More than that, some people even transmit messages of unavailability by deciding to avoid eye contact, smiling or talking to new people. This is often an old learned habit that stems from the myth that love is always waiting just around the corner and it will eventually find you. Therapy can help one understand where such attitudes towards dating are rooted, unlearn them and relearn that it is nothing desperate or unnatural to go and actively look for your other half. The whole process might be anxiety provoking, but with the right support anyone can learn that finding that special someone can be a choice, not an accident.

  1. They are not psychologically ready for that special one

A large percentage of people enter therapy because they feel like there’s no hope to find that special someone. They usually state what they perceive as a paradox: although there’s nothing wrong with them and their life, it seems impossible to form a significant relationship with another! Through therapeutic work, they soon discover that not being able to find a partner is just a symptom for some underlying conditions. The fact that someone desperately wants a partner and doesn’t find them could mean that they go through some situations specified in the previous paragraph, as well as the fact that they look for a partner for the wrong reasons. Such reasons can be:

  • wanting someone because of social and/or family pressure

  • being in relationships for most of their life and not being able to cope with single life;

  • fear of abandonment;

  • trying to replace someone significant who left without giving themselves the time to mourn and heal;

  • childhood abandonment issues;

  • personality disorders, such as a dependent personality;

  • feeling worthless unless in a relationship

  • a general lack of meaning in their life that they hope to suppress by focusing on someone else.

Of course, these are just some briefly stated reasons, but sometimes more than one and more than these examples can prevent a person from being happy with someone else.

To conclude, it’s not the world that it’s against us when looking for love, it’s not that all the potential matches are already taken, it’s just sometimes we are not ready yet to be with someone and we need to work a bit on personal development. It might sound weird to tell someone who is 50+ that they are not ready to meet the love of their life, but it happens quite a lot. There are many people who still don’t know that if you didn’t learn how to be happy on your own and you don’t know yourself well than you can’t be happy with someone else or make that person happy.

The good news is that all this can be changed with the right support. A therapist can assist one in finding their real self and their own happiness in order to start looking for that special one for all the right reasons. If you feel like you’re going through something similar and would need support in understanding how to look for love, we’re here and you can give us a call.