· By Case Kenny
What triggers your attachment style?
Once you know your attachment style… then what?
Labels are great! They help us simplify ourselves and the world around us. But what comes next?
Let’s do a quick review of attachment styles...
*ps these aren't my definitions :) These are psychological classifications that I'm summarizing.
You have a stable and confident expectation of yourself in a relationship. You’re comfortable being vulnerable with your partner. You communicate your needs and you listen to theirs as well. You’re not prone to overthinking because you’re present and you communicate.
As with all styles, this is derived from having present, loving and stable parents in your upbringing. They provided security and honesty… and that translated into adulthood where you have the same stable understanding and confidence in yourself and your relationships.
You crave connection and partnership… but it’s tempered by inconsistency - hot then cold, insecurity and overthinking. That can turn into desperation to prove your worth or win someone's affection because you become afraid they’ll leave you or choose someone else. You’re afraid of being alone.
You likely had an inconsistent upbringing where you had to fight for attention or affection.
Avoidant dismissive attachment.
You're avoidant in a dismissive way - you say that a relationship really isn’t that important in your life. You're extremely independent and rely on yourself. You're prone to being emotionally unavailable.
As a child you had to rely on yourself to figure out life and that taught you that you don’t need anyone else.
Fearful avoidant attachment.
You're avoidant in a fearful way. You want a relationship but you’re burdened by a sense of fear. You're aware of your feelings but struggle to control them. You're afraid of getting too close to someone out of fear of being hurt or hurting - that's fear of abandonment, fear of intimacy, fear of rejection, fear of commitment, etc. This can result in abusive relationships, toxic relationships, etc.
This is also conditioned in childhood with somewhat cold parents. You wanted to feel wanted but struggled to feel it and so that evolved with you as you grew up.
OK, so you know your attachment style... now what?
It’s great that you have self awareness! That’s a HUGE first step. You can’t evolve past what you can’t identify. You can’t change what you refuse to address.
BUT changing an insecurity isn't as simple as knowing that you’re insecure and then saying OK I won't be insecure anymore. If only life was that simple...
So what to do?
Ask yourself this...
What TRIGGERS your insecurity, clinginess, jealousy, distrust, retreat, need for validation, etc.?
Train yourself to realize that a trigger doesn’t always need to be acted on in the way you want or in the way you've been conditioned. Triggers... Here's a couple that might be familiar...
- Independence in a partner - you start to think they’ll leave you, they don’t want to do things with you, they no longer want you, etc.
- They have other interests that don’t involve you - you need validation and so you start to worry that their interest in you is waning.
- Some kind of inconsistency - same as above... you start to think an off week or a week where you only hang out once means the relationship is falling apart.
- Others - bringing up an ex, not getting enough quality time with your partner, how their friends act, etc.
How do you normally react to those triggers?
Do they normally elicit anxious or avoidant responses? Do they normally lead you to sabotage, overthink or form some kind of resentment?
Those reactions aren't out of the blue! They're in response to something and if you can identify that something... you can change.
Life has patterns to it. You’ll see the same triggers over and over again. You'll see other people react to the same things over and over again.
When you know your triggers you can push yourself to NOT act on them.
THAT builds compassion for yourself... and compassion for yourself is exactly what’s going to help you evolve into having a more stable and secure attachment style. You'll start to see more clearly AND you'll find and attract people who are also stable.
THAT is what you deserve - someone who has stability and warmth about them. That's someone who minimizes your triggers. But to find that person you have to resist your triggers.
Those are triggers that crave validation even if it’s with the wrong person and that overlook whether someone is right for you or not.
What a power move it it is to NOT react to your triggers!
Even though your upbringing and so much of your adult life has been predicated on an early understanding of love and intimacy… you can decide to create a future and a partnership that rewards change, that rewards growth and that rewards compassion for yourself.