Have you ever felt like you’re repeating the same relationship over and over again?
At first, of course, you don’t think that the new person you’re excited about is like that crappy last person you dated. Nevertheless, a few weeks or months into the relationship, you’re having the same fights, complaints, and stressors as you had in your previous relationship.
What the heck is that all about?
Well... it's about your attachment style likely contributing to your relationship choices.
You establish a pattern of attachment in early childhood, typically as a result of the connection (or lack thereof) with your primary caregiver. It gets rooted deep inside of you, and therefore, it impacts all of your future relationships.
Don’t worry, though. You aren’t doomed to repeat the past forever. You can move forward into a different type of relationship what will satisfy you.
However, doing so starts with an understanding of what your attachment style is and how it impacts your relationships.
Secure Attachment – You Can Get Here!
There are four attachment types. Secure attachment is the “healthy” type. It’s what you’re ultimately striving for.
If you happen to be that rare bird who had 100% perfect parents through every single bit of childhood, then perhaps you developed secure attachment in childhood. However, most of us have one of the three types of insecure attachment.
Nevertheless, it helps to know what secure attachment is because it sets the goal for the types of relationships we want to have.
If you have secure attachment, then you are comfortable depending on others and asking them for help. However, you aren’t overly dependent, and you don’t fall apart when people legitimately can’t be there for you. You want a partner, but you don’t feel like you have to have one to complete you. And you aren’t obsessed with rejection, loneliness, or whether or not others will accept you.
All in all, you have a steady, consistently positive self-image. You know your worth and what you have to offer a partner, and you are able to set appropriate boundaries in your relationships.
3 Types of Insecure Attachment
Most of us have to work hard as we age to learn the skills necessary to develop secure attachment, for the simple reason that the majority of us experienced some type of challenge in childhood that created insecure attachment.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. You’re actually in the majority. It just means that the way you relate to people likely repeats negative patterns from the past. Therefore, if you can work to understand those patterns, you can develop the capacity get past them.
1. Anxious Attachment
If you experienced insufficient caregiving at any point during a critical young age, you may have developed anxious attachment. Put simply, you didn’t always get enough of what you needed as a child, so you’re constantly seeking that in your current relationship.
Therefore, when you enter a romantic relationship, you tend to get needy. You crave intimacy and closeness, you get nervous when your partner is away from you, and you're obsessed with the possibility of rejection.
You notice the tiniest sign that something might be wrong, and you can’t get it out of your mind, analyzing it over and over again, constantly seeking reassurance from your partner.
2. Ambivalent Attachment
If you experienced inconsistent caregiving as a child, unsure of whether or not your primary caregiver was going to be there for you, then you likely developed ambivalent attachment.
Sometimes you may want to be in a close relationship, but then, sometimes it makes you feel claustrophobic. You might be suspicious of others and have a lot of difficulty trusting people, but you still want to be in relationships (at least... sometimes).
3. Avoidant Attachment
If you grew up in a home that was violent, hostile, or rageful, then you likely developed avoidant attachment. After all, why would you want to try forming attachments to people if they were only going to hurt you?
Therefore, even if you choose to enter relationships, you always have your guard up. You're independent, avoid deep intimacy, and feel suffocated when others try to get too close to you.
If none of the three childhood scenarios above rings a clear bell for you, turn your curiosity to your parents themselves. Might one or both of them have experienced a childhood like those described in the three types of insecure attachment? Sometimes attachment can be linked to transgenerational experiences, so it can be worth considering.
Common Relationship Patterns
You would think that you’d be likely to choose the partner who could satisfy your needs in a relationship. Oh, but humans are so much more complicated than that. Instead, you likely feel drawn to people who will actually reinforce your negative belief patterns.
For example, one of the most common relationship dynamics is between an anxious partner and an avoidant one. It’s also called the pursuer-distancer relationships. The anxious partner constantly seeks reassurance from the avoidant partner who consistently seeks independence.
Naturally, this causes both partners a lot of pain. Nevertheless, it feels oddly comfortable, because they continue to not get the same thing they've always failed to get.
However, when you learn more about your own attachment style, you can shift this dynamic. You can move towards secure attachment in your relationships. As you do, you will learn to select relationship partners who can at least more so meet your needs instead of those who trigger your most painful emotions.
You don’t have to figure this all out on your own. Click here to learn more about how I can help you work through your attachment style challenges.