Have you seen a baby who calms down when his mother picks him up? How does a baby know that this person is someone they can trust? What is the bond babies form with their mothers called? These are attachment styles. It is simply the bond between a parent and a baby. This attachment style can influence all our relationships in the future.
What Are the Four Attachment Styles?
Four attachment styles can explain the type of relationship or bond a baby and mother form. These styles indicate how the baby shows trust in the mother. It shows whether the baby wants to be with the mother or tries to go away from the mother.
An experiment was conducted which had large number of mother-baby pairs. The children were less than a year old. The mother and child were placed in a room and later the mother was asked to leave the room for some time and then come back and approach the baby.
The experimenters noted the reactions of the babies when the mother leaves the room and when she comes back. Based on the observations and patterns of reactions shown by the babies, four attachment styles were defined. Adults too show signs of these attachment styles. The early bonds a baby forms with their parents can affect all their future relationships directly or indirectly.
1. Secure Attachment Style
In this style of attachment, a person tends to form healthy and happy relationships. They are in touch with their emotions and can be supportive of their partner because they are emotionally stable. Thus, these people tend to communicate with others properly, can see the good in others, and can respect others. They can be flexible and adjust.
Also, this style is developed with the mother and child sharing a loving bond and the mother can care properly for the child by showing love. In return, the baby can trust the mother to take care of their needs and they feel safe when they are with the mother.
Hence, if you have a secure type of bond with your parent, then you will trust them and other significant people in your life. Of all the attachment styles, this one is the most adaptive and helpful. Thus, you will be able to have a good and comfortable relationship as an adult with your partner filled with love, intimacy, trust, care, and understanding.
2. Anxious Attachment Style
In this style, a person tends to be very nervous about their relationship. They have a fear that things will go wrong. They worry about what will happen. So, they doubt their partner and relationship. Additionally, the person may fear that the significant other will leave them. This makes them more anxious and can harm their relationship. There is a severe lack of communication between the partners. Also, some people might do foolish things to get attention from their partner.
For example, you might flirt with someone else to make your partner jealous. You might feel that your partner has stopped loving you, so might try to harm yourself.
Also, this style develops when the baby does not get constant care and love from the mother. The mother might act indifferent sometimes or might act too concerned. This wavering can cause a lot of confusion and thus, anxiety for the child. So, the child might not be able to form healthy relationships as an adult.
3. Avoidant Attachment Style
Of all the styles of attachment, this style involves the person not wanting to be in a relationship. They have fear of intimacy and love. As the name suggests, they prefer to avoid emotional involvement. They are extremely independent.
As a child, the mother does not show too much care and the child cries when they see the mother. So, they want to not be with the mother.
So, as an adult, the person with this attachment style tends to be cautious about forming a serious relationship. They have problems trusting others and being dependent on others. They do not value relationships.
4. Fearful Attachment Style
The person with this style tends to have low self-esteem and high anxiety. They feel that they are not good enough or that their partners do not like them and hence, they fear that their partners would reject them.
As a child, the mother-baby bond is not that positive. The child comes to fear the mother may be because of her indifferent or rude behavior. So, as an adult, they have difficulty forming happy relationships.
Tips to Overcome Unhealthy Attachment Styles
Some tips to overcome unhealthy attachment styles are –
- Try to find out what style of attachment you have with your partner. As you know that your early attachment bond can influence your adult relationships. You will have to analyze your pattern of behavior with your partner. For example, how you react when things go wrong, are you able to trust your partner, do you have any fears or worries about your relationship, etc.
- Once you know what is going wrong, then you can pinpoint what needs to be changed. You can select what will help you change your pattern of reaction and work on it.
- You can get help from a therapist if you feel the issues are too deep-rooted.
- When you face a difficult situation or get a thought that you have identified to be harmful, you need to rephrase your thinking about how to react and deal with the situation.