Skip to main content

Can You Change Your Attachment Style?

Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) from Pexels
I feel like I could be one of the poster children for the Dismissive Avoidant Attachment type. I was a latch-key kid in a single parent home. I have a younger sibling who has a disability and required more attention as a child. My family didn’t display a lot of affection around each other, as that Scandinavian Stoicism was often present. 
I wasn’t abused or neglected though. In fact, when I was the only child, I was lavished with attention, love and praise. But then my brother came along and it all kind of fell apart. The family dynamic changed – dad disappeared and mom was suddenly very busy.  I got used to self-soothing when I was lonely or needed something. I became very internal and quiet, preferring to escape into books or fantasy where things always worked out in the end. It was a refuge of my own design.
 Attachment Theory in psychology attempts to explain how we form attachments to other people and how our upbringing can affect the ways in which we connect (or don’t) in adult relationships – romantic or otherwise.  There are four main types of Attachment and you can find them all here.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
There are two types of Avoidant Attachment styles – Fearful/Anxious and Dismissive. The Anxious Avoidant desperately wants to be close to others but is also afraid of that closeness or anxious that they may not be deserving of love. In that way, they are very hot and cold – inching closer and then pulling back. (I can see a little bit of myself in this one...but only a bit.)
Dismissive Avoidant types tend to distance themselves from others, operating under the principle that connecting emotionally to other people is unnecessary and even undesirable, that it’s better to be able to stand on your own and not need to seek help or validation from others.  They are able to shut down their emotions and detach from those around them – very much the isolated hermit. 
Anxious or Preoccupied Attachment types tend to feel wary, insecure, and paranoid in their relationships with others. Because they often received very sporadically or inconsistently during their formative years, adults with this type come off as clingy and require constant reassurance from those around them that they are, indeed, loved.
Secure Attachment is the gold standard when it comes to this psychological theory – these people have their sh*t together.  They are able to easily connect with others emotionally and are not fearful of rejection or being alone. Securely Attached adults have a positive view of relationships and human interaction, so they are able to draw healthy boundaries for themselves and express intimacy and feelings in a constructive manner. 
Of course, no one’s perfect and so even Secure Attachment types experience a bit of anxiety or uncertainty in their relationships – but it’s not the defining theme in them.  Gold standard, right?
Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels
While our attachment styles are imprinted on us in early childhood, the brain is a remarkably elastic thing even in our later years and it’s possible to rewire your synapses to favor a more Secure Attachment style.  Knowing yourself and your Attachment Style is a step in the right direction. 
I know that I’m Dismissive Avoidant. I know that I tend to push people away or keep them at a distance, believing I’m more capable of taking care of myself and that I don’t need to risk being hurt by opening up to another person. I know that I typically attract Anxious Attachment types and that has never ended well for me. 
So, what can I do to challenge some of the thoughts and behaviors contributing to this vicious cycle?

  1. No Man is an Island – even though I’m not a man and ‘island’ isn’t currently an accepted gender identity, it’s important that I confront the belief that it’s better to handle everything alone. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness and doesn’t make me a failure of a human being.
  2. Learn to Communicate my Feelings – this goes beyond being “avoidant” for me, Myers-Briggs pegs me as an INTP every time and I’m an Enneagram 5w4. So I’m kind of a loner by nature, which is fine, but it’s critical to be present and engaged with the people in my life. Part of being present includes open lines of communication. (And if I’m not sure what I’m feeling, I guess I can just be honest about that!)
  3. Step out of my Comfort Zone – I’m used to being involved with possessive, toxic, and clingy individuals. So stepping away from that and engaging with those who are secure in their relationships and honest about their needs and feelings is a whole new thing for me. It’s scary, but an important step in learning how to healthily connect with someone.
  4. No More Excuses – and I mean no more making up stories in my head about why this relationship won’t work or this person won’t like me. That path always leads to self-sabotaging behaviors and that has to stop. Catching myself with this negative internal dialogue and turning it into something else is critical. 
There is nothing inherently wrong with having an avoidant or anxious attachment style if it is not ruling your life and your relationships. However, if you believe that you and those around you would benefit from adapting to a more secure attachment style, there are many psychologist resources online you can take advantage of.

Therapy is also recommended for those with deeper, underlying issues.

We are not bound by our past. We are not hardwired to be a certain way and with a little support and a lot of hard work, we can change for the better. The science supports it, so I believe it.


Listen here to my new podcast episode on Changing Attachment Styles:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What I Found Interesting This Wednesday

This is a cop-out of a blog post, I'm aware, but lots of other bloggers I follow and love post some kind of "list of links" piece once a week or month...so I'm hopping back on that bandwagon as well. Because on ocassion I find interesting things I'd like to share and isn't it better to just include a bunch of links and let you peruse them at your leisure?

Thought so.

⇺⇼⇻
As I mentally prepare for a third date (Curse of the Third Date is totally a thing, by the way), I find myself wondering what happens if, afterwards, you're still not sure if you're really into a person. I know my issue is that I just take an epically long time to warm up to someone new and get comfortable around them...but how does it work for others?

⇺⇼⇻
Do you deal with a lot of anxiety or have a loved one who does? Worrying that your anxiety is a burden on others (or not knowing how to help relieve that burden from an anxious friend) can really add to your stress levels.

Turns ou…

Five Ways to Celebrate May Day

Daughter of Heaven and Earth, coy Spring, With sudden passion languishing, Maketh all things softly smile, Painteth pictures mile on mile, Holds a cup with cowslip-wreaths, Whence a smokeless incense breathes. Girls are peeling the sweet willow, Poplar white, and Gilead-tree, And troops of boys Shouting with whoop and hilloa, And hip, hip three times three. The air is full of whistlings bland; What was that I heard Out of the hazy land?

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

May Day - also known as Beltane, Walpurgisnacht, and Floralia, later co-opted by early Christians to form the basis of Easter, May Day is undoubtedly a spring holiday. Full of frolicking in green grass and fresh flowers, making frenzied love in the woods, twirling colorful ribbons around a pole, and getting unabashedly drunk - this period is all about the love...


It's also pretty phallic in nature, too. May Poles. Think about it.

💮 Five Ways to Celebrate May Day 💮
1 Flora is known as the goddess of flowers and blossoming plants i…

Summer OOTDs

#ootd
I took significally fewer Outfit of the Day shots over the last two months, so here's what I've more or less been wearing throughout June and July!


* Handmade Dress featuring the most fantastic fabric print ever: Elvis Presley's military records. <3 



* Mustard yellow cardigan, Egyptian-print blouse, cropped denim and the famous leopard loafers. * White crop t-shirt, burgundy pencil skirt, large black vest and leopard heels. (I'm seeing a theme.)


* Floral wrap top, light-wash denim, sandals. 



* Striped t-shirt, skinny jeans, the best damn utility jacket that ever was, leopard loafers. Duh.



* Black tank, cropped denim, sheer button down dress (worn open), leopard loafers * White button down, light-wash denim, large black vest, neon sneakers.  


* Navy blue work dress, leopard loafers. * Stripey wrap blouse, cropped denim, and those effing loafers.