In the age of swiping left or right on dating apps, the amount of time it takes to assess and consider a potential partner can be mere seconds. On top of this, the information provided to make these choices is often limited and the ease with which one can pass on a potential partner just to find hundreds more can make the search seem daunting. While developing and maintaining a meaningful relationship can be challenging, one major factor that can help you find the right match (but requires more effort than the swipe of a finger!) is identifying your attachment style and that of a potential partner.
What is attachment style? In simple terms it is the way that a person connects to others and engages with others in a relationship. Early research on attachment theory targeted the relationship between infants and caregivers, but recent investigation has also explored attachment style in adults, specifically regarding romantic relationships. It’s almost Valentine’s Day- listen up!
The three identified adult attachment styles are secure, anxious, and avoidant as defined in the book Attached:
Secure: Comfortable with intimacy, are usually warm and loving
Anxious: Crave intimacy, are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back
Avoidant: Equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness
So what does this mean for you? Experts highlight that people with different attachment styles vary in the ways they view intimacy and the way they communicate. Based on the research, we know that finding a partner with a compatible attachment style will ideally increase the probability of developing a fulfilling relationship.
How do we know what our attachment styles are? Consider these factors:
Do you tend to seek/avoid intimacy and closeness?
Do you tend to be preoccupied with the relationship and rejection?
How do you react to effective communication?
Listen and look for what you or your partner are not saying or doing
Look for various signs and don’t rely on one aspect to identify an attachment style.
Lastly, an important point to note is that no attachment style is better or worse than another. The goal is also not to necessarily change your attachment style. Rather, what appears to be most important and helpful is clearly identifying your attachment style, acknowledging it, and being honest with yourself about what you need to feel content in a relationship. This will vary from person to person, even with people who share an attachment style. This knowledge can then help you identify if traits in a potential partner fit your attachment needs. Additionally, if one is already in a relationship with someone who has a different attachment style, partners can openly communicate with each other to discuss how to increase compatibility and satisfaction within the relationship.
To gain more information about your own attachment style, you can access an Attachment Style Questionnaire on Dr. Chris Fraley’s website at: http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl
(Levine and Heller, 2010)