FOUR STYLES OF ATTACHMENT

As I’ve explained, attachment styles can best be understood by combining the way people relate to themselves (which can create anxiety) and to others (which can result in avoidance). By dividing the dimensions of anxiety and avoidance into high and low, the following four possible combinations are created:

Preoccupied: High Anxiety, Low Avoidance

Fearful: High Anxiety, High Avoidance

Dismissing: Low Anxiety, High Avoidance

Secure: Low Anxiety, Low Avoidance

HOW DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS?

How Much Anxiety and Avoidance?

To learn how much attachment-related anxiety and attachment-related avoidance you experience, consider how well you fit the paragraphs below (Ainsworth, Blehar, Water, and Wall, 1978;
Simpson, Rholes, and Phillips, 1996; Collins, 1996; Feeney, Noller, and Hanrahan, 1994; Griffin and Bartholomew, 1994; Brennan, Clark, and Shaver, 1998; Levine and Heller, 2010). Rate yourself on a
scale of 0–10, with 0 being not at all and 10 being that you completely relate. Hold on to these numbers so that you can use them later in assessing your attachment style.

THE BASICS OF HOW YOU CONNECT

Whom do you turn to when you are really upset? At those times, your attachment system is turned on; like turning on an internal homing device for which the target or “home” is an attachment figure. When an adult’s system works well, he has a secure style of attachment. He seeks out his partner or other primary attachment figure for reassurance when he’s upset. And once he finds her to be reliably available and effectively responsive, his attachment system turns off. He feels calm and comforted.

But people with an insecure pattern of attachment don’t fully or consistently find such comfort in their partners or in others, an indication that their “homing device” is malfunctioning.

FOUNDATION OF LOVE

To see a birth is to witness a miracle. No mother can resist wanting to hold, cuddle with, and tend to her newborn. And this is where the story of every person’s life of relationships and love begins.

Infants quite literally need their caregivers for survival. So, thanks to Mother Nature, infants are hardwired with a need to connect with others, and the wherewithal to do it. For instance, they like to look at people’s faces, can get others to care for them by crying, and are usually comforted by being held or rocked. And, of course, babies just look so darned cute that people want to care for them. All of this keeps their primary caregivers (usually their mothers, and secondarily their fathers) interested in protecting and nurturing them. As children become mobile, their continued need for help to survive motivates them to stay close to their mothers. A little one who ventures out will look back to Mommy for reassurance. It’s in these early years, beginning with infancy, that people first learn how relationships can help them feel safe and can calm them when they are upset.

My Beautiful Distraction