Many adults realize that their earliest relationships with their families affect the way they approach personal relationships later in life. Influence from your family can have an impact on the way you approach friendships and romantic relationships. Your relationships with your parents or early caregivers is formative, and as an adult, you likely reflect some of these same traits, characteristics, and behaviors in your own romantic relationships.
Simply put, the way your caregivers treated you is likely reflected in the way you treat your romantic partners today. Your relationship with your caregivers has a strong effect on the attachment style you present later in life. Here’s how your attachment style can affect your dating life.
Someone with an anxious attachment style likely had an inconsistent relationship with their caregivers. Their caregivers may have been “hot and cold” emotionally. At times, they were loving and kind, but at other times, they were distant and guarded. A child in this situation won’t feel like they’re getting the love and care they need, and they will chase after it later in life.
A person with an anxious attachment style will harbor a deep fear of abandonment in relationships – they can’t handle the thought of living without their partner. They seek constant approval from their partner. Overall, they hold a negative self-image and lack the desire for independence. Unfortunately, this desperation can work against them. They might become demanding and clinging, causing their partner to pull back.
When someone grows up with caregivers who are emotionally distant, they may develop an avoidant attachment style. A distant caregiver does not neglect their child’s physical needs, but they do not give their child space to feel, express, and process their complex emotions. They may shy away when their child tries to share their emotions and avoid expressing their own feelings, too.
As a result, someone with an avoidant attachment style will generally avoid emotional intimacy in dating. They might struggle to maintain long-term relationships and prefer short flings. Many people with avoidant attachment styles deal with trust issues – they might feel like it would be unwise to place their trust in someone else, and they pride themselves on being self-sufficient.
Children who are victims of abuse and neglect at the hands of their caregivers often display a disorganized attachment style when they grow up. Someone with a disorganized attachment style generally suffered from an unstable home life, and they’ve been forced to adapt to this type of environment.
Their bonds with romantic partners are unstable, and although they might crave romance and connection, they also have a tendency to push their partner away if they get too close. This is because they fear that inevitable, their partner will turn out to be untrustworthy, or they may mistrust their partner’s affection and suspect ulterior motives. They can waver between forming strong and weak attachments with others.
A secure attachment style indicates a healthy, trusting relationship with one’s caregivers. In dating, someone with a secure attachment style will feel comfortable expressing their own emotions and accepting their partner’s. They can navigate disagreements and relationship challenges with confidence and self-assurance. While they can be happy in relationships, they’re also happy on their own. They value honesty and closeness in relationships. Someone with a secure attachment style holds a positive self-perception. They have high self-esteem, and they also think highly of their partner.
Are you struggling with your attachment style within a relationship? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for relationship counseling.