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Attachment Styles

Attachment Styles

“Attatchment Styles” by Sophia Oster of Makenna Gallagher, Joshua Swathwood, Charles Karbowski, and Cayla Cataline
Styled by Melanie Do
Directed by Melanie Do
Hair & Makeup by Olivia DiBenedetto
Stylist Assist: Charlize Brochu
Photography Assist : Maddison Hill

By Jordyn Damato

Human beings quite literally need to connect with others for the quality of their mental and emotional wellbeing. It is our connections to those around us like family, friends, and romantic partners that give us a reason to wake up in the morning and something safe to dream about at night. Although our relationships with our loved ones are crucial to our quality of life, it is also important to be aware of the kind of attachments we are forming with these same people to ensure we are showing up in our relationships as we should, not as we feel.

There are four main types of attachment styles: Secure, Anxious, Avoidant, and Disorganized. Before diving deep into what each attachment style means, it is important to acknowledge that we are not immediately responsible for our own style of attachment---these patterns of thinking are ingrained into our brains at a very young age, as one's first relationship happens instantly as they’re brought into the world by their parents. So your attachment style is initially shaped by how you are raised, and as you grow into an adult, it becomes your responsibility to be aware of how you attach yourself to others and what that means for your relationships.

The first and most common attachment style is “Secure.” Having a secure attachment style means that you are able to set firm boundaries in your relationships without feeling guilty, you can communicate your needs clearly, and you find the most satisfaction in sharing many close relationships. This is not to say that those with a secure attachment style can do no wrong when it comes to relationships--they certainly can, as they are human too. The important difference with the secure attachment style is the fact that they can own up to their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions without bringing others down with them. These people tend to be more resilient in the face of conflict due to their comfortability with themselves and their emotions. Coming from an unstable upbringing, it can be tricky to get to this point in a relationship, where you feel fully secure with yourself which makes it easier to connect with others, but with a lot of time and mindfulness, anyone can learn a secure attachment style.

Another common attachment style is known as “Anxious” or “Ambivalent.” The name surely covers part of it, but the feelings run much deeper than being anxious in a relationship. Those with this attachment style tend to be overly needy, have fixation issues, and lack self-esteem. They deeply crave emotional intimacy but have a hard time trusting in it or finding themselves deserving of love. These people tend to be hyper aware of their partner’s actions and behavior, overanalyzing what they do or say in order to “feel prepared” for any struggle in the relationship. As a a result, they are viewed as overly clingy and in constant need of reassurance from their partner. In some extreme instances, this attachment style can turn a partner controlling and jealous, because of the anxiety they feel when away from their partner. This attachment style clearly makes it difficult to maintain close relationships, but it is nothing to feel terrible about. Again, we are only human, trying to navigate a crazy world inhabited by other humans. It is important to recognize what happened (or what did not happen) in your childhood that causes you to feel so untrusting in your adulthood and build self-esteem to combat that and become the best version of yourself.

The next attachment style is “Avoidant” commonly known as “Avoidant-Dismissive.” People with avoidant attachment styles are known to be wildly independent, closed-off, and uncomfortable with emotions of their own and others. While there is nothing wrong with valuing your freedom and independence, there comes a fine line when it comes to building relationships with those around you. These people are uncomfortable when it comes to emotional intimacy and find it difficult to get close to others for that reason. They are often accused of being “cold” and the more a partner tends to lean into them, the more that person swiftly pulls away. A common misconception for those even with the attachment style is that they believe they do not need love or meaningful connections to be happy, that it is all extra fluff they are not interested in. The truth is they do want love--because everyone does in one way or another--they simply struggle with the warm feelings of intimacy that they most likely did not experience as a child. This attachment style is all about rewiring your thoughts to realize you do not have to navigate the world alone, in fact, it is much more fulfilling if you don’t.

The final attachment style is “Disorganized” which feels a lot like the previous two attachment styles merged into one hot mess of emotions. This attachment revolves heavily around the fact that one was never taught how to self-soothe one's emotions as a child, so not only relationships are terrifying, but the world around them as well. It is common that those with this attachment style suffered from a childhood of trauma, abuse, and/or neglect, which urges them to feel fearful and confused about the people around them. Similarly to the anxious attachment style, these people yearn for meaningful relationships but struggle to feel deserving of them, which causes them to act out and experience intense mood swings of love and hate towards their partner. This style of attachment is heavily reliant on repeating the same toxic habits as their childhood caregiver, so the first step to dismantling this attachment style is recognizing the damaging patterns that they have grown up with as “normal.”

To be clear, talking about any attachment style is much easier than it is to experience them, as well as attempting to change them. We all end up becoming products of our environment one way or another, but that does not mean we are forced to stay that way. If you wished you showed up differently in your relationships, the good news is: you can. Every day is a new opportunity to make a change---whether it’s your hair or your attachment style, anything is possible.

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