How Do You Relate to Others?

attachment relationships Feb 08, 2019

We all relate to people in different ways. The way we relate to another person in the form of a deep connection is called attachment. The nature and the degree to which we attach to someone is based on how bonded we were with our primary caregivers in childhood.

  1. For the person who had caregivers who were tuned in to their physical AND emotional needs, yet also supported independence, he or she developed a "secure" attachment style. The way they think about themselves and others is positive. As an adult, they are able to communicate without being passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive and have a generally positive self-esteem.
  2. A "dismissive-avoidant" person is someone who feels good about themselves yet learns to not rely on others (feel self-sufficient), and learned this style of relating based on messages throughout childhood where they would go to the parent but the parent was neglectful and would be physically and emotionally unavailable to the child. This describes the person who learned to fend for themselves in life, making future intimate relationships difficult because they don't know how to make room for another person to be emotionally connected. As an adult, this person may want to connect with others but not at the expense of their own independence. They are uncomfortable with deep feelings, delay or avoid commitments, and tend to be critical and controlling.
  3. A "fearful-avoidant" person tends to have negative views about themselves and others. They likely experienced childhood trauma, loss, or some form of abuse. They may have gone to their caregiver for comfort but received mixed messages of anger or rejection and left them confused. They have learned that becoming emotionally close to someone will cost them pain. This person has a hard time completely trusting others. They will often go to the point of suppressing and denying their own emotions and are uncomfortable with emotional closeness. They also are uncomfortable with deep feelings and may be critical and controlling.
  4. A person with "anxious preoccupied" likely had caregivers that could not soothe them and did not foster healthy independence. The anxious-preoccupied person is overly dependent and clingy in relationships yet doesn't trust themselves to make decisions or have the ability to self-soothe. This person tends to be anxious, impulsive, and have high levels of emotional upheaval. As adults, they tend to be overly sensitive, jump to conclusions without rational assessment, experience jealousy due to their insecurities, worry excessively, and can criticize others to get them to change to fit their own emotional needs.


I'm sure you're wondering what the good news is. You can have what's referred to as an "earned secure" attachment. Most people have not had the healthy childhood that would develop a secure attachment style, but they can gain one with healing the heart to make it whole.

Accept that you are wired to be reactive or sensitive and be kind to yourself and you work to heal your emotional wounds. Identify your emotions and own your part of your relationships. Communicate what you are feeling and thinking, but follow through to take care of yourself regardless of what others do. Don't own other people's messes, but take responsibility to clean up yours. Practice being objective. Avoid replaying arguments and hurtful memories and instead, focus on what is within your ability to control, do what you can control and don't worry about the rest, then focus on cultivating a lifestyle of gratitude and pursue growth.