What is an Attachment Pattern?
An attachment patterns emerges in response to caregiving in childhood. There are 4 primary attachment patterns. They are ways of thinking and behavioral strategies in order to feel safe and to receive care and protection from adults in their family. Recognizing our attachment pattern can give us insight into the relationships we choose, our strengths and vulnerabilities in relationships.
Our attachment patterns emerge in childhood and develop throughout adulthood. It influences how we go about getting our needs meet. We often find partners that confirm our ideas about how relationships are supposed to be.
The 4 primary attachment patterns are secure attachment, avoidant dismissive attachment, anxious preoccupied attachment, and fearful avoidant attachment. Each type of attachment pattern has common themes and characteristics.
Securely attached adults tend to be more satisfied with their relationships. They allow their partner to move freely while feeling confident in the attachment. These relationships demonstrate honest, independent connection. In children, you see that they see their parent as a secure base to venture out from.
The person with avoidant dismissive attachment distances themselves from others. They may lean toward isolation and feel independent. They detach easily from loved ones and tend to deny the importance of connection. They can shut down emotionally with ease. In childhood, they likely felt it was safer to be self-reliant and to keep their feelings and needs to themselves growing up with a parent who was emotionally unavailable.
Anxious preoccupied attachment looks different. Individuals with this attachment often look to their partners to complete them or rescue them. They seek safety, yet they take actions that push their partner away. They may be clingy, demanding, or possessive. They may act insecure and desperate. They may feel extreme jealousy, for example, when their partner wants to spend time with friends.
The fearful avoidant attachment is characterized by running away. These individuals attempt to run away from their feelings. They often feel overwhelmed by their reactions and tend to have unpredictable moods. They tend to believe you will get hurt by being close to others while realizing you need to be close. They have no organized strategy for having their needs met. A person with fearful avoidant attachment may end up in an abusive relationship. They also may re-live trauma from their childhood throughout their adult years.
The good news is your attachment pattern can evolve. You childhood attachment pattern doesn’t have to define your pattern for the rest of your life. With support, you can create a secure attachment pattern regardless of the childhood your experienced.
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