Relationship Attachment Styles

John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, researchers, introduced the attachment theory to psychology in the sixties. Bowlby and Ainsworth believe that our attachment styles that we portray in our adult romantic relationships are rooted in our relationships with our parents or caretakers as infants. 

Bowlby and Ainsworth did a study with infants and adults and compared their findings. He separated infants and their caretakers for a short period of time to analyze the infant’s reactions to missing their caretaker. He found three different attachment styles: avoidant, secure and anxious. 

Nearly all of the infants acted distressed upon their caretakers leaving, but what was interesting was the infant’s behavior upon the caretakers return. Some of the infants were comforted by the mothers return; this would be an example of secure attachment. Others maintained their distress even upon their mothers return. The rest of the infants appeared to be indifferent to their mothers return.

These attachment styles of the infants are more than likely to stick with the child throughout adulthood, affecting their intimate romantic relationships similarly. For example, those children who were avoidant as infants will most likely have insecure relationships in which it is difficult for them to open themselves up in fear of rejection. They are likely to avoid commitment and intimacy in fear of rejection. Likewise, those infants who expressed secure anxious attachment styles most likely experienced some kind of parental abuse or neglect, resulting in adult anxiety and impulsiveness in their romantic relationships. In other words, anxious attachment yearns for intimacy but doubts their own worth. The secure attachment is the healthiest attachments; the child felt safe and secure with their caretaker and will most likely search for a romantic relationship that is also safe, secure, consistent and reliable. 

These attachment styles can teach us a lot about ourselves, our relationships, what we are searching for and why. If we can acknowledge these aspects of our romantic lives, then our relationships with ourselves and our significant other can become that much stronger and legitimate. Not only can we learn about our own attachment, but we can learn about our partners attachment and help them out as well. 

Sources: Daily Emerald