A week ago I was on the phone to my friend, lamenting on about my love life.
“I’m desperate for romance and intimacy, but as soon as people get close to me I either push them away or get really obsessive?” “Say no more“, my friend answered. “I’ve got just the book for you!”
A few days later I had Attached by Dr Amir Levine and Rachel Heller in the post.
A scientific book about the different attachment styles (anxious, avoidant and secure), it helped me identify patterns and habits of how I find and identify love. Apart from the securely attached who thrive with intimacy, there are three more attachment types:
The anxiously attached become paranoid about their partner’s affection and overthink their relationships.
The avoidant attached dislike the loss of independence and push people away when they get to close.
And only 5% of the population, usually those who suffered from childhood trauma and had dysfunctional upbringings, are both anxious and avoidant: we have disorganised attachment.
My recent blog post about being uniquely broken related to my confusion concerning my attachment styles: why do I only fancy people who seem disinterested, and as soon as they make a u-turn I then turn away? How is it normal to be disgusted when people claim they love me, and at the same time be unable to focus on anything else but someone not replying to me for a few hours?
People with disorganised attachment are as different as their trauma itself, but it all comes back to our childhood. If our primary caretaker was frightening but also our only source for comfort, we came to fear and long for them at the same time.
Hence, we identify love with hurt, disappointment and worrying.
Attachment styles are not set in stone.
We can heal and change, either by being in a relationship with a secure person, or by identifying our patterns. By acknowledging our true needs, avoiding avoidants and training ourselves in effective communications, we too can have healthy relationships. With introspection, we might soon realise we’re attracted to people who fit our insecurities, not our needs (see Am I in trauma or in love?)
“Dependency is not a dirty word”
Some of us learned that people who are close to us can hurt us, so we stay away from all.
Self-reliance is not equal to independence. Avoidant personalities are less likely to engage in self-disclosure, are less comfortable with intimacy, and less likely to accept help from others.
Thus, the belief in self-reliance will become a burden, cutting us off from our loved ones and leaving us stranded in times of need.
Safe to say this book has been a game changer for me.
I had heard of the different attachment styles before, but wrote the theory off as I identified with both anxious and avoidant. I love me some self-help books, but had made an active effort to buy less, so I’m eternally grateful for my friend to get the book for me!
If you feel lost in your needs and relationships, feel unloved or too loved, please consider looking up the theory. This post is but a summary of my personal experience about disorganised attachment, you can take a free quiz here to find your attachment style!
Let me know what you think of all this and whether you’ve heard of this theory before!