Can You Change Your Attachment Style?

In short, stressful relationships are detrimental not only to our well-being, but also to our physical health.

It seems quite obvious, then, that we should avoid poor-quality relationships in life.

However, we do have a choice when it comes to selecting close friends and romantic partners, but building nurturing close relationships seems even more tricky.

Now, don’t get me wrong — closely relating with others isn’t easy and any kind of relationship is bound to go through highs and lows, periods of harmony and conflict, times of joy and sadness.

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Attachment Theory.

A little bit of theory first.

Through these early-life experiences, including the way we were treated by our parents, relatives, and first non-familial ‘others’, we unconsciously shape the way of attaching that affects our behaviour in close relationships in the adult life.

Now, the good news is that ca. 50% of the population has a secure attachment style and a healthy dose of self-esteem that generally allows them to select relationships that are ‘good for them’; where intimacy, vulnerability, and psychological safety come naturally, both sides are able to communicate openly and assertively, and — over time — neither of the sides becomes an excessive ‘giver’ or ‘taker’.

Attachment Theory In Practice.

Although the Attachment Theory is most often used to describe the dynamics of romantic relationships, it can be flexibly used to understand how we relate to others in general.

Now, I don’t think we should use the Attachment Theory to put ourselves in one of the “attachment type boxes”. Instead, I think we should use it as a powerful tool that can enable us to better understand ourselves and others in the context of close relationships.

For instance, in a recent conversation with my friend, he complained that he always attracts women who seem keen at first, but then become emotionally unavailable and flaky, which in turn makes him pursue them even more.

Secure Is The Way.

Another reason why I don’t think it’s helpful to label oneself as any of the ‘attachment styles’ is that — as shown above — human interactions are too complex to describe them through clear-cut categories or types;

And even if your dominant style is secure, anxious, or avoidant, your behaviour is likely to change depending on who you interact with.

For instance, even if your dominant attachment style is ‘secure’, chances are that different relationships in life will drive you to behave in an anxious or avoidant way.

But what we can get from this Theory, is learning about behaviours which generally characterise the secure attachment style, and how to get closer to adopting them in real life.

Why is it so important that we strive to become securely attached in our relationships, you may ask?

Start Simple; Start Now.

So, how can we work toward developing behaviours characteristic of a securely-attached individual and, by extension, create more secure relationships in our life:

  1. Know thyself and be mindful of others.
Image by me, created in Canva.

Every relationship necessarily involves two people and, therefore, clear, constructive communication is key in ensuring that both parties can connect with one another in a secure way.

Whilst it might feel uncomfortable at first to communicate to the other party that you might be struggling with anxious or avoidant tendencies, doing so in a constructive way might help them to better understand your behaviour and realise what you need from them to feel more secure.

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Agnieszka Zbieranska

Agnieszka Zbieranska

Business Psychologist, Life Coach & NLP Practitioner, 200hr Yoga Teacher. A firm believer that we can all be better than ‘ok’, in every area of our lives.