Are you stuck with your attachment style or can it change?
Attachment style and how your attachment style affects your dating life and relationships is something everyone is talking about just now. In fact, you may even feel that they are the reason that things aren’t working out for you.
If you aren’t heard about attachment styles, they are based on a theory that everyone falls into one of four groups – secure, avoidant, anxious and disorganised
If you are want to know what they are and want to find out more, you can read – How Your Attachment Style Affects Your Relationship.
After finding out about attachment styles you are bound to self-diagnose which one you are.
Knowing your attachment style can explain behaviour and give you answers; however, they can also keep you stuck because you have a label that this is just the way you are.
It can also make you feel hopeless and that a healthy secure relationship is beyond you.
However, I have good news for you, your attachment style can change.
Your attachment style can change over time for the better or worse depending on your experiences.
Let’s Look at Some Examples About Attachment Style
*Mandy came from a loving home where she learned at a young age that her parents loved her. There was no apparent trauma, she learnt to trust others as well as learning to love and be loved. Because of this Mandy had a secure attachment style.
Mandy got married and was married for 15 years. She remained secure in her attachment style. Mandy’s marriage ended because they grew apart and Mandy was able to still have a secure attachment style. She left her marriage looking forward to what was ahead of her.
When she started ‘dating; again it didn’t turn out how she imagined. She had a few relationships that made her feel alive in a way she hadn’t before. The problem was that these men didn’t want to commit to a relationship. This left her not knowing where she stood. Mandy even ended up experiencing cheating from one man she loved but who wasn’t ready. This had a HUGE impact on her. Many of the men she dated had an avoidant attachment style and nothing she would do changed that.
Instead of seeing it for what it was, she put up with it until she couldn’t take it anymore. Now when she dated or met men Mandy felt the need to protect herself from being hurt and became either avoidant or insecure rather than her old secure attachment style.
Shared with permission and names changed.
*Matt had an anxious attachment style and was insecure in his relationship with *Sara. He was scared she would leave him or worse still cheat on him. He was jealous, controlling as a result it was a toxic relationship. Their relationship ended when he insisted on checking her phone after she was talking to a work colleague.
Matt was devastated by the breakup and he was left heartbroken. Matt took the time to heal his heartbreak. He took an honest look at himself and realised that he needed to work on not being so insecure in relationships. He knew if he didn’t that he would end up in the same place all over again. That is something he couldn’t do because it hurt too much! Matt did some intense work with me as his coach.
Then Matt got out there to date and he was different. He didn’t come across as jealous, insecure or anxious. He could also deal with not having to control every situation.
I could see the difference and so could he. The way he interacted was much healthier than in the past and as a result, he didn’t push away the girl he is now in a relationship with.
*Sandra was aware she had an anxious attachment style and it affected her relationships. Sandra knew that it came from childhood trauma. What happened was she would get anxious if she didn’t get a text message from the man she was seeing or they had to take a work trip. She would get nervous if she didn’t know what the other person was doing and she couldn’t ever really trust them.
She also needed continual validation from whoever she was seeing to feel okay about herself, which was draining for the other person.
Sandra was sick of it and got therapy to deal with the trauma from her past. Through the therapy, she also realised what she was doing. She had a huge ah-ha moment and could see that she was in the habit of having relationships with avoidant men. Clearly a recipe for disaster for someone who was anxious!
Sandra learnt to be secure instead of being full of anxiety about what could go wrong. She worked on her self-esteem and stopped relying on outside validation to feel ok. She also changed the type of people she chose to be in a relationship with. Instead of choosing the men who were scared to commit or who were avoidant in relationships, she looked for men who were secure and who had a secure attachment style.
As a result, Sandra met Bill who had a secure attachment style. They are now in the type of relationship she hadn’t imaged was possible.
Your attachment style can change depending on who you are with!
If you are in a relationship with a person with a secure attachment you can grow towards being secure as well. You will learn how to feel safe and how to act secure in that safe relationship.
Relationships have the ability to change us in a positive or a negative way.
Choosing the right relationship can make all the difference to your happiness.
If you are less secure, but your partner is securely attached, you’ll move more toward secure attachment. This is exciting news because a new relationship is an opportunity to move towards a secure attachment style.
2. Getting older
Getting older and wiser! It seems that the older people get they feel like they don’t have time for unhealthy relationships. As a result, they look for ones that are more stable and that can lead to feeling secure and stable.
Choose to Change Your Attachment Style
It is possible to change your attachment style in a positive or negative way. In fact, who you chose to be with can have a big impact on you, as it did in Mandy’s case, negatively affecting her. Matt and Sandra chose to work on themselves to make a positive change as well as looking at the type of person they dated.
Change may not always be easy but it is possible. To change your attachment style, you will need to be aware of what yours is and the impact it is having on your life. Then you will be able to move from awareness to working on changing it. You will be able to create new healthy ways of relating to people. It will take setting healthy boundaries, working on how you feel about yourself and you might even need to work through past trauma with a therapist. It is important to value yourself rather than rely on outside validation to feel good about yourself.
It’s a Process!
Understand, that it will be a process to change which will take time to get to where you want to be. Be kind to yourself especially if you start to go back to your anxious, avoidant or fearful patterns.
You don’t have to do it on your own. Get the help of a coach, counsellor or therapist (especially when there is trauma involved) as it will make a big difference.
There are also plenty of resources like books, podcasts and videos that will support you along the way.
At the end of the day remember that we are all human beings who are experiencing the same type of issues in different ways/forms.
The good news is that if you decide to put your mind and effort to change, then it is possible. If you want to have a healthier attachment style you can!
You can find out more about research carried out on changing your attachment style.
If you want help, why not book a free discovery call?
Debbie Rivers – Relationship Coach