What is attachment violation and how does it impact happiness in relationships? A psychologist explains.
Are you secure, anxious, or avoidant? There are four types of mutual attraction, one good and three not so good. Do you know which one you are?
Attachment is a mutual process of forming emotional bonds between people that last indefinitely, even when they are separated. For adults, attachment is both a useful skill and a human need. For children, it is a vital necessity and the first psychological experience that shapes their approach to relationships in the future.
Attachment is not hardwired into the brain of an infant as a tool for interacting with loved ones, but is formed during communication with a significant adult. Usually, this is the child’s mother or father, and less often, a grandparent or someone else if the child is left without parents. In a family where peace, tranquility, and mutual understanding reign, and the child grows up in love and care, the baby develops a normal attachment, which psychologists call “secure.”
“In an unhealthy environment with the conflicting, unstable behavior of a significant adult, attachment disorder is formed – an emotional dysfunction in which the child and the adult growing out of it are not able to create strong, healthy, long-term relationships with other people,” explains Evgenia Smolenskaya, a clinical psychologist at the Mental Health Center.
A violation of attachment is manifested in distrust, fears, anxieties, alertness, difficulties in adapting, craving for codependency, behavioral disorders, and the inability to choose the right partner and build a happy relationship.
Reasons for violation of attachment
Attachment theory was established by English psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby, in collaboration with psychologist Mary Ainsworth, at the turn of the 1960s and 70s, describing it as a close emotional connection between a child and a mother. Over time, Bowlby realized that the bond formed in infancy plays an active role throughout life, influencing interpersonal relationships and all cognitive processes.
In the late 1980s, scientists continued to develop the ideas of Bowlby and Ainsworth and found that the interaction between partners in love, friendship, and even business relationships is similar to the relationship between a child and a parent. Like the bond between mother and baby, where everyone receives their own blessings and support, romantic relationships are a safe base, a system that helps each in a couple, and both together reflect internal and external influences, adapting to difficulties and joys.
The key discovery of scientists was the fact that the principles formed in parent-child contacts affect attachment in romantic relationships. The type of attachment is established in very early childhood and remains stable throughout life, although it can be influenced by acquired experience. In other words, a person can be brought up in a safe environment, but after going through a negative experience in a love relationship, develop a violation of attachment – and vice versa. It is possible to correct the situation for the better, but it is very difficult since certain behavior patterns need to be changed, and this requires the help of a specialist.
Types of attachment and their differences
Psychologists identify four main types of attachment in a relationship. Of these, only secure attachment is considered qualitatively acceptable for personal happiness, and the remaining three are considered violations that interfere with it.
- A secure attachment type is identified by a positive self-image and positive perception of others. These individuals value themselves and trust others, are open to emotional intimacy and exhibit love and sincerity in their relationships. According to psychologists, people with a secure attachment have higher chances of experiencing harmony and satisfaction in their romantic relationships.
- An anxious attachment type is marked by a negative self-image and positive perception of others. These individuals often experience doubt and anxiety, particularly when their love interest is distant or unresponsive. They crave emotional intimacy and constant affirmation from their partner, leading to codependency and emotional expression, as well as self-doubt and jealousy.
- An avoidant-rejecting attachment type is typically found in independent individuals who view high levels of closeness and emotional openness as unacceptable. They tend to be selfish and maintain a positive self-image while having a negative view of others. Such individuals often distance themselves from romantic relationships and suppress their emotions, adopting a defensive approach.
- An anxious-avoidant attachment type arises from traumatic experiences such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. These individuals struggle with loving and being open to intimacy despite their desire for it. The fear of rejection and discomfort from any form of contact can lead to a desire to withdraw, and they may feel unworthy of love and unable to trust their partner. A negative self-image and negative perception of others characterize this attachment type.
Impact of attachment styles on relationships
Understanding attachment style and how it affects one’s relationship satisfaction is crucial for maintaining healthy and happy connections. Individuals with a secure attachment style tend to have better communication and sexual experiences, leading to high levels of intimacy and trust in their relationships. They value loyalty and have a higher likelihood of experiencing a satisfying and lasting relationship.
However, those with other attachment styles can still have long-term relationships, although they may face numerous challenges. Individuals with an anxious attachment style often struggle with feelings of abandonment and self-doubt, causing them to go against their own beliefs to keep their relationship alive.
Unfortunately, almost half of adults today suffer from attachment disorders due to the absence of secure attachment in childhood. This issue not only affects personal relationships but also mental health, leading to anxiety and codependency. The negative pattern of attachment formed in childhood can repeat in adulthood, perpetuating the cycle of unhealthy relationships. This can be passed on to the next generation, highlighting the importance of identifying and working on attachment issues with psychoanalysis and therapy to break the cycle and promote healthy relationship skills for future generations.