Your attachment style is a crucial element of your relationship. It is determined by your early experiences, and it determines how you interact with your friends, family, and even your partner. According to theory, there are four attachment styles: Secure, Anxious, Fearful, and Avoidant.
– Secure-attached people are more likely to have stable and harmonious relationships (you can think of them as labradors – friendly and relaxed)
– Anxious-attached people will usually be preoccupied within their relationships (you can think of them as cockatoos – high-strung and a bit needy).
– Avoidant-attached people are likely to need a lot of emotional space, independence, and might even be uncomfortable with strong displays of emotion or conflict (think of them as cats – a bit standoffish and aloof).
– Fearful-attached people are a mixture of the Anxious and Avoidant types, in that they are quite insecure within their relationships, but also need distance and autonomy in moments of uncertainty (you can think of these types as a rabbit – easily startled and find it difficult to trust others).
If you or your partner are not labradors, you’re most likely in the spectrum of Avoidant Attachment. Now calm down, this isn’t a bad thing! However, addressing your avoidance and keeping it in check will keep you from straining your relationship in the long run. Here are three helpful tips you and your partner can follow to better manage your avoidant attachment(s):
- Open Communication: Within your relationship, you and your partner should strive for open and honest communication. AKA, creating a safe place to raise issues and validate each others’ concerns. Over time, an avoidant individual will learn that it is easier to raise a concern straight away (rather than sitting on it or hoping it will go away), and will become more proactive about speaking up.
- Personal Space: One thing that probably won’t change for an avoidantly attached person, is the desire for personal space – and that is okay! High-energy, social gatherings can be draining at times. Part of this attachment style can involve a fear of being trapped or suffocated by others’ needs, while not being able to speak up for their own – so sometimes being able to recognize this and offer an ‘out’ from commitments or social obligations (e.g. a family gathering or a group outing) can be a powerful display of support.
- Relationship training: Most relationships have an argument that comes up over and over again. Having the support of a professional to unpack these conversations and encourage you to see both sides of the situation makes space for progress. For those with avoidant attachment, it can be really valuable to have a compassionate and empathic person to help them to understand themselves better, and also understand the impact that their avoidance has on their partner. This can build up their motivation to proactively solve issues and show empathy when needed.