- Published on Monday, 20 April 2015 09:01
When we look for a partner, there’s a whole host of factors that play into the process. Our relationship and personal histories, for one — including romantic, familial, and even workplace — have a huge impact on our love lives.
Considering our diverse and varied experiences and the unique connection formed by two people, every relationship is completely different. Still, research shows that when it comes down to how we form and behave in relationships, pretty much everyone falls into one of three categories: anxious, avoidant, or secure. It’s called the attachment theory, and according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, about 20 percent of people are anxious and roughly 25 percent fall into the avoidant camp, while the rest of the population are considered secure.
People who have an anxious attachment style crave intimacy and closeness. They love being coupled, but they consider relationships fragile and are sensitive to even minor shifts in a partner's mood and the subtle nuances of relationships. A little thing, such as a partner neglecting to call, leaves them feeling vulnerable and insecure. Anxious-attachment-style people generally have a harder time telling love interests what they want because they don’t want to rock the boat or create conflict. Instead, they're more likely to mope, withdraw, or even lash out: They ignore the calls they so anxiously await or flirt with others to make their mates jealous. This method of reacting doesn't bode well for creating communicative, stable relationships.
The behavior of avoidant types can often be difficult to predict. Deep down they do crave intimacy, but they often think this connection will rob them of their prized independence. People in this category may feel uncomfortable or suffocated if they sense love interests getting too close. Often this leads them to pull away.
Although avoidants may seem like prime candidates for eternal singlehood, they do want to form deep romantic connections. However, to protect themselves from potential heartbreak, they repress those feelings and create distance between themselves and their partners. For example, avoidants may feel annoyed or even angry if their partners seem "needy," and they opt to keep them at arm's length. Or they may get overly annoyed and focused on the “small stuff,” like how they don’t wipe down the sink or crack their gum. They may use these perceived flaws to temper their romantic feelings.
People who fall into the secure category are reliable, relationship oriented, and do a very good job at communicating what they want as well as responding to their partners' needs. When disagreements crop up, secure people tend to stay calm and are ready to talk things out. They are comfortable with intimacy: So instead of shying away from conflict resolution, they are willing to address relationship problems and thus work to grow closer and deepen their bonds with others.
Let’s face it, not all of us have a secure attachment style. But if you don’t fall into this category, don’t fret. Based on our changing life experiences and deepening self-awareness (and often therapy), you can shift your attachment style. It’s not rigid or immobile. Our relationship patterns constantly evolve and change.