Attachment is the relationship between infant/child and caregiver and its impact on how the child will function in relationships as an adult.
The attachment formed with caregivers serves as a model for how the child expects the world to work and how they anticipate other people’s behavior. This relationship between child and caregiver is responsible for intimate relationship stability, the ability to emotionally regulate, enjoy being alone, find satisfaction in being with others, and other qualities such as emotional intelligence, self-esteem, empathy, social skills, intellectual capabilities, and confidence.
Attachment bonding is formed not on the caregiver’s quality of care or love but rather on the nonverbal emotional communication the caregiver develops with the child. If the caregiver does not meet the child’s physical, emotional, mental, and cognitive needs, the child may develop attachment wounds. Additionally, if the child experienced insecure attachment with their caregivers, the child is more likely to re-experience insecurity in their adult relationships. Insecure attachment is rooted in fear. It can cause a person to be overly dependent or independent. Conversely, a secure attachment is rooted in trust. A person will have good self-awareness and have increased empathy.
Attachment wounds could include but are not limited to; a death in the family, divorce, moving away from friends/family, natural disasters, chronic illness, addiction in the family, the birth of a sibling, and abuse, neglect, or trauma in the home. These wounds, if left unresolved, can create relationship challenges throughout one’s life.
SIGNS THAT SOMEONE IS STRUGGLING WITH UNRESOLVED ATTACHMENT WOUNDS:
- Trouble trusting other people
- Fear of being abandoned by those they are closest to
- Needing constant reassurance from those they care about
- Low self-worth (but they may fake confidence)
- Ambivalent about commitment
- Overly independent and feel as if they don’t need close relationships
- Minimize or disregard another person’s feelings
Addressing attachment in therapy can strengthen and repair attachment in current relationships without necessarily developing a secure attachment. The goal is to identify negative attachment patterns/cycles in our relationships while simultaneously being mindful of how your childhood attachments with your caregivers informed the attachment style we are currently experiencing. Understanding your attachment wounds and/or attachment patterns will help you develop healthier relationships with others.