Attachment—the critical bond that develops between baby and primary caregivers–is one of the most important aspects of infancy and early childhood. The nature and quality of our earliest attachments tends to affect all our relationships, “from cradle to grave.”
When circumstances such as adoption, illness, financial stress, loss, or lack of family support occur during those early, most impressionable years, they can leave a lasting impact on babies’ sense of themselves and others—in spite of their caregivers’ best efforts. Babies—and the children and adults they become–may respond to the stressors in their environments by developing what looks like a careless attitude toward the people most important to them. Or they may have a hard time trusting that others will be there for them.
To understand more of how these wounds can impact your relationships, you must first understand what the attachment styles are.
There are four different styles of attachment:
Secure Attachment –
Securely attached adults have an increased satisfaction leave in their relationships with other. They tend to have less anxiety and depression as well. We know that trauma (attachment wounds in this case) can cause us increased symptoms of mental health issues.
Children with a secure attachment have a secure base in their caregivers where they seem to have more independent behavior. This means that they are able to explore the world, knowing that they have a support to turn to if needed.
Anxious Preoccupied Attachment –
Those with an anxious attachment tend to feel the need for others to save them. They are longing for a sense of real love and trust in their relationships. We tend to see people with anxious attachment that pull and push in the relationship, not really knowing how they “should” feel. The truth is, they are scared to rely on someone as they were never taught that this is a possibility.
Dismissive Avoidant Attachment –
People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style tend to emotionally distance themselves in their relationships. To the outside, they seem independent, strong, and shut down. We all need connection and with this attachment style, they feel like they can only rely on themselves. They will typically have an “I don’t care” attitude in the relationship.
Fearful Avoidant Attachment –
Fearful avoidant people attempt to keep their feelings to themselves but end up feeling overwhelmed due to the anxiety or depression that encapsulates them. They are both afraid of being too distant and too close to others and therefore, their needs are often unmet due to them not being able to navigate this.
In children and adolescents, as well as adults, difficulties can manifest as:
- Separation anxiety
- Unusual defiance
- Low self-esteem
Wounds may also impact adult relationships through issues such as:
- Fear of intimacy
- Relationship issues
- Love addiction
The good news is that these wounds can be healed, no matter how long we have lived with them. The work is hard and often times counseling can and will help foster the growth. Knowing and being aware of your attachment style is an important first step.
If these issues are impacting you, your child, or your intimate relationships, please call or email us to schedule an appointment. 303-353-9226 or firstname.lastname@example.org