We all want to be special to our partner- to feel important, to be desired, ultimately to be loved and secured. These needs can lead us to do or say many irrational things such as fighting, pursuit, insult and even bullying a partner which ultimately damages the relationship and decreases the chances of feeling loved and secure. We can work against our objectives without even knowing it. Therefore, learning to identify what these are can be difficult. According to attachment researcher and theorist John Bowlby (1958) we learn patterns of relating through our relationship with caregivers since infancy. Hazan and Shaver therapist and researchers (1987, 1990, 1994) took Bowlby’s theory and proposed that romantic love is a process of the same attachment or relational pattern we learn as infants and in childhood, they also proposed a classification for adult interactions with loving partners. Their classification includes: Secure Attachment, Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment, Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment, and Fearful-Avoidant Attachment.
Secure Attachment individuals can balance intimacy and independence. They usually have a positive view of themselves, their partners and their relationships. Needless to say, secure attachment individuals can have healthier and happier relationships with little effort.
Anxious-Preoccupied individuals have a hard time trusting. They want to feel elevated levels of intimacy, and may exhibit intense emotional expressiveness, worry and impulsive behaviors in their relationships. They often seek an increased approval from partners usually leading to a sense of dependency or “neediness”. They have less positive views about themselves and their partners.
Dismissive-Avoidant individuals aspire a high level of independency. They may even appear to avoid attachment or closeness altogether. These individuals perceive themselves as self-sufficient and not needing close relationships. They suppress their feelings, and deal with rejection by distancing themselves from partners of whom they usually have a poor opinion.
Fearful-avoidant individuals go back and forward about their feelings towards close relationships, both desiring closeness and feeling uncomfortable with it. They often have difficulty trusting their partners and see themselves as unworthy. They may avoid intimacy and suppress their feelings. We all share small traits of all of the previous classifications, however we may find we gradually fall under one of them more often than not.
Remember that these relating behaviors are usually learned at an early age and are mostly unconscious, so that we are not doing them on purpose. Our brain is programmed to work this way when interacting with other important people in our lives. The first step to change is to identify that this is happening. Once you accept that is a problem in your life you can take steps to make things different. Change is possible, with determination and commitment you can learn new ways to relate to others close to you. Learning more effective ways to communicate your emotions can be useful if you’re trying to alter a negative patterns of interaction.