What Is Your Romantic Attachment Style & How Does It Affect Your Love Life?

Did you know that you have a specific attachment style? All of us do, and it’s determined by how we grew up and observed companionship in our parents. Our style even determines what kind of men we go after and even how those relationships will work (or not work). Which attachment style fits you and what does it mean for your love life?

  1. What are attachment styles all about? Back in the ’60s and ’70s, two psychologists by the name of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth created the attachment theory after years of research. Bowlby worked at clinic that helped troublesome kids, which gave him the research he needed to form the Attachment theory. This theory states as we grow up, we create a special bond with our parents. We depend on them for everything and eventually, this dependence becomes attachment. The biggest attachment that affects us is our bond with our moms. There are certain characteristics within that relationship that mold your type of love. Nobody ever fits perfectly into one of these categories but instead, we all have characteristics from at least two of them.
  2. What are the characteristics of the attachment theory? Bowbly’s research was based on four characteristics and experiences. The first characteristic is how we long to be physically near someone we love. The second characteristic is our safe haven. When we’re kids and we feel scared, we need to be able to have a comfort zone with our parents where we can feel safe again. The fourth characteristic that determines our attachment style is our secure base. We need to be able to explore the world as we grow but still have the ability to retreat to our parents. The last characteristic is our actions when we separate from our loved ones. An insecure attachment will be full of anxiety and even paranoia in separation.
  3. How does a secure attachment style translate in your romantic relationships? If you have a secure attachment, you’re emotionally intelligent. You’re able to have stable relationships while still being yourself. You’re also able to be away from your boyfriend without high anxiety. Most importantly, you’re able to process your emotions in most situations and you deal with them the right way. You’re open and honest in your relationships. This is the ideal attachment style for long-term happiness in love.
  4. How do you develop a secure attachment style? If you have this attachment style, it means you grew up in a stable home environment. Your parents had you explore the world on your own but were there when you needed them. You had a balanced childhood.
  5. How does anxious-preoccupied attachment style affect your love life? You have the tendency to distrust your partner regardless of proof of innocence. You feel insecure in all your relationships, regardless of who you’re with, so you throw yourself into your relationship and you get clingy. Sometimes this clingy habit creates turbulent and unstable relationships. You need constant validation from your partner to feel loved.
  6. How does an anxious-preoccupied attachment style devleop? If you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment, you had parents that were there physically but who likely weren’t emotionally available. Your parents tended to your physical needs but not your psychological ones. They were too preoccupied with other things to spend time with you, whether that was a job, an addiction, or another relationship.
  7. What does dismissive-avoidant attachment style do to your love life? Just like someone with an anxious-preoccupied attachment, you have constant anxiety about your love life. But instead of craving what you don’t have, you want nothing to do with it. If you do find yourself in a relationship, you distance yourself from your boyfriend. This eventually leads to a failed relationship. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You trust no one and it’s killing you on the inside.
  8. How does dismissive-avoidant attachment develop? As a kid, you had parents who weren’t around. You became independent as a young kid and formed the belief that you don’t need love because of your independence. While it’s good to be self-sufficient, you’ve taken this to the extreme.
  9. What does fearful-avoidant attachment look like in romantic relationships? You’re filled with inner turmoil. You try to keep your emotions hidden deep inside but you can’t help but let them out. Your emotions are all over the place. This causes erratic mood swings towards your boyfriend. You’re vulnerable to abusive men and you might even have PTSD. If you have PTSD, you have a higher chance of addiction, which only worsens your relationships.
  10. How does fearful-avoidant attachment develop? With this attachment style, it’s likely that you were abused or neglected growing up, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. Perhaps your parents had untreated trauma and projected their hurt on you. Either way, it’s not a death sentence—you can change your unhealthy impulses.
  11. Your attachment style isn’t set in stone. Don’t worry, you can adapt and change your attachment style. If you have unhealthy coping mechanisms in your relationships, you can get better. In fact, it’s more common to have an unstable attachment than people realize. The first part of healing is pinpointing the problem and admitting you need help. Therapy is a great option if you want to heal from any trauma or want to have a stable relationship. Most therapists will use EMDR therapy (if it’s backed by trauma) or CBT therapy—do some research to find what’s best for you.
Casey Elizabeth Dennis is a freelance writer and part time poet. She's passionate about mental health and horror movies. You can find her either writing or catching Pokemon in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa.