Attachment styles and their affect on intimacy.
And what to do about it.
No matter how many times in your life you’ve professed, “new year, new me,” there are parts of your personality that do tend to stay the same from childhood, for better or worse. This is the idea behind attachment styles, a theory developed by British psychoanalyst John Bowlby in the 20th century. Bowlby theorized that an infant’s access (and perceived) access to a parental figure results in how safe and protected they feel. There are four different attachment styles, and each can shed a light on how a person may act and feel in their relationships later in life. It’s no surprise why many have turned to this theory to better understand why people act the way that they do in their romantic relationships.
University of Denver researchers Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver were the first to study how attachment styles may come into play with romantic relationships, publishing their findings in 1987. They posited that Bowlby’s original theory could help people to better understand what kinds of actions are beneficial or harmful in a relationship: “Attachment theory not only provides [a conceptual] framework, but it also explains how both healthy and unhealthy forms of love originate as reasonable adaptations to specific social circumstances.”
Of course, there are plenty of quizzes on the internet that can tell you your attachment style, but this can also be a good thing to discuss with a therapist if you’re unsure. After all, being better equipped to recognize and understand your behavior will only make it easier to have healthy relationships down the road—recognizing barriers you face now doesn’t mean you can’t overcome them, after all. Here’s how each attachment style deals with intimacy, according to Hazan and Shaver’s research.