Being in relationships with others, whether romantic or platonic, can make you aware of your attachment style. Understanding your attachment style can help you cultivate healthy relationships with loved ones, romantic partners, and friends. This is possible even after years of experiencing unhealthy relationship dynamics due to trauma, mental illness, and substance use.
What Are Attachment Styles?
Attachment theory is the school of thought that describes how you relate to other people and yourself in a relationship. You learn attachment styles from how you were (or were not) parented and what your caregivers displayed growing up. No matter what your attachment style is, none of them are inherently good or bad, as each type of attachment is neutral. Your attachment style can also be changed through awareness and action.
This attachment style is characterized by desiring a connection with others, but also avoiding it, as the connection can create anxiety. This is especially true if you did not receive the connection you desired growing up, or if caregivers did not connect with you well. In this sense, connection is a new experience, which can feel overwhelming. Feeling overwhelmed and fearful of connection can cause you to withdraw from connection to protect yourself.
This type of attachment is a result of you having your needs mindfully attended to by caregivers, as they were emotionally attuned to what they and you needed. This style allows you to feel safe connecting with others, as you also feel safe connecting with yourself. You are not typically worried about having your needs met since your childhood taught your nervous system you are safe in connection. This is considered the “healthiest” type of attachment, although one attachment style is not better than another.
Ambivalent attachment is characterized by being both curious about and hesitant to receive connection. This style is often driven by the fear that your desire for connection will not be matched by the other person in the relationship, which can feel threatening to your survival if your needs are not met.
You likely have a disorganized attachment style if you do not “fit” any of the above attachment styles. Instead, you may fall into many of the styles in some way. You may have more unresolved trauma than most people because of challenging upbringings, family dynamics, and experiences of mental illness.
Healing Attachment Styles
Healing attachment styles can be helpful to do with a therapist, where you can explore what your relationships were like growing up and how that impacts your experience now. Although it requires change and a shift in relationship patterns, it is possible to change your attachment style through boundary setting, reparenting yourself, healing yourself, and healing with others.
Healing journeys often involve getting curious about your relationships and healing attachment styles to experience greater depth, connection, and safety in relationships with yourself and others. At Avalon Malibu, we recognize how challenging it can be to change old patterns and expand into new ways of being. We also know it is possible, and that you are worthy of experiencing healthy relationships that support your well-being. Our team of professionals is here to support you in this. Call Avalon Malibu today at (844) 857-5992 to learn about our recovery programs.