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What is your attachment style?
January 21, 2009
1:10 am
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"During the 1970's, researcher Mary Ainsworth further expanded upon Bowlby's groundbreaking work in her now-famous "Strange Situation" study. The study involved observing children between the ages of 12 to 18 months responding to a situation in which they were briefly left alone and then reunited with their mother (Ainsworth, 1978).

Based on these observations, Ainsworth concluded that there were three major styles of attachment: secure attachment, ambivalent-insecure attachment, and avoidant-insecure attachment. Researchers Main and Solomon (1986) added a fourth attachment style known as disorganized-insecure attachment. Numerous studies have supported Ainsworth's conclusions and additional research has revealed that these early attachment styles can help predict behaviors later in life."

Reference Link.

With certain caveats, it seems that early attachment styles do affect our relationships in later life.

"Before you start blaming relationship problems on your parents, it is important to note that attachment styles formed in infancy are not necessarily identical to those demonstrated in adult romantic-attachment. A great deal of time has elapsed between infancy and adulthood, so intervening experiences also play a large role in adult attachment styles. Those described as ambivalent or avoidant in infancy can become securely attached as adults, while those with a secure attachment in childhood can show insecure attachment styles in adulthood. Basic temperament is also thought to play a partial role in attachment.

But research in this area does indicate that patterns established in childhood have an important impact on later relationships. Researchers Hazen and Shaver (1987) found a number of different beliefs about relationships amongst adults with differing attachment styles. Securely attached adults tend to believe that romantic love is enduring. Ambivalently attached adults report falling in love often, while those with avoidant attachment styles describe love as rare and temporary.

While we cannot say that infant attachment styles are identical to adult romantic-attachment styles, research has shown that early attachment styles can help predict patterns of behavior in adulthood."

Reference Link.

What do you know about the attachment style that formed with your mather/father/primary caregiver in your earliest infancy and thereafter?

January 21, 2009
1:28 am
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gazelle

On the 20-Jan-09 on the Diary of Guest_Guest Thread you wrote:

"Wow, Tez, that long & detailed description of the Anxious/Avoidant personality in your penultimate post describes some of my weaknesses & inadequacies (on a bad day/week/month, when I'm depressed - though by no means always,)to some considerable degree. Goodness! Much shock & food for thought ... thanks."

You followed up with another post. In it you wrote:

"On reflection, there are notable exceptions. I'm not at all socially anxious - in that I enjoy meeting new people, joining classes or groups of strangers ... with much happy anticipation & hopes of finding friends. I'm not timid, & can & do express myself quite well.

BUT, as soon as any actual friendship / relationship seems to be starting, I panic, fear inadequacy & rejection, & weirdly fear the very attachment I crave in my lonely life. Yet I can speak creatively & even humorously & entertainingly to individuals or groups on occasion. I just don't feel I can 'do' relationships'normally' & spend 90% of my time alone - and desperately lonely. I cannot 'be' around people for more than a few hours without needing to flee. Back to the comfort of familiar, relaxing misery. 🙁 How odd."

Thanks for these two interesting posts.

I believe that my early infant attachment style would be classed as Insecure therein falling into the sub-category of anxious/ambivalent.

I can see many of the influence of the characteristics of this sub-category of anxious/ambivalent in how I tend to behave in close relationships both sexual and otherwise.

How do you perceive your relationship(s) with your primary caregiver(s)?

Was your mother an unconditionally loving person? Was she manipulative? Did she use the supply and withdrawl of her approval and love as a means of getting you to behave as she wanted? Ditto for dad - how did he behave towards you? Was your inherent, unconditional core worth affirmed often/always/never in your early childhood and in your adolescent years?

January 21, 2009
2:02 am
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For the convenience of all please find a brief explanations of the Secure and Insecure attachment styles and the reference link for each.

Characteristics of Secure Attachment

"Characteristics of Secure Attachment
Children who are securely attached do not experience significant distress when separated from caregivers. When frightened, these children will seek comfort from the parent or caregiver. Contact initiated by a parent is readily accepted by securely attached children and they greet the return of a parent with positive behavior. While these children do not become exceptionally distressed by a parent's absence, they clearly prefer parents to strangers.

Parents of securely attached children tend to play more with their children. Additionally, these parents react more quickly to their children's needs and are generally more responsive to their children than the parents of insecurely attached children. Studies have shown that securely attached children are more empathetic during later stages of childhood. These children are also described as less disruptive, less aggressive, and more mature than children with ambivalent or avoidant attachment styles.

As adults, those who are securely attached tend to have trusting, long-term relationships. Other key characteristics of securely attached individuals include having high self-esteem, enjoying intimate relationships, seeking out social support, and an ability to share feelings with other people.

In one study, researchers found that women with a secure attachment style had more positive feelings about their adult romantic relationships than other women with insecure attachment styles (Mccarthy G., 1999).

Reference Link

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Characteristics of Insecure Attachment - Anxious/ambivalent.

"Characteristics of Ambivalent Attachment
Children who are ambivalently attached tend to be extremely suspicious of strangers. These children display considerable distress when separated from a parent or caregiver, but do not seem reassured or comforted by the return of the parent. In some cases, the child might passively reject the parent by refusing comfort, or may openly display direct aggression toward the parent.

According to Cassidy and Berlin (1994), ambivalent attachment is relatively uncommon, with only 7% to 15% of infants in the United States displaying this attachment style. In a review of ambivalent attachment literature, Cassidy and Berlin also found that observational research consistently links ambivalent-insecure attachment to low maternal availability. As these children grow older, teachers often describe them as clingy and over-dependent.

As adults, those with an ambivalent attachment style often feel reluctant about becoming close to others and worry that their partner does not reciprocate their feelings. This leads to frequent breakups, often because the relationship feels cold and distant. These individuals feel especially distraught after the end of a relationship. Cassidy and Berlin described another pathological pattern where ambivalently attached adults cling to young children as a source of security (1994)."

Reference Link

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Characteristics of Insecure Attachment - Anxious/Avoidant.

"Children with avoidant attachment styles tend to avoid parents and caregivers. This avoidance often becomes especially pronounced after a period of absence. These children might not reject attention from a parent, but neither do they seek our comfort or contact. Children with an avoidant attachment show no preference between a parent and a complete stranger.

As adults, those with an avoidant attachment tend to have difficulty with intimacy and close relationships. These individuals do not invest much emotion in relationships and experience little distress when a relationship ends. They often avoid intimacy by using excuses (such as long work hours), or may fantasize about other people during sex. Research has also shown that adults with an avoidant attachment style are more accepting and likely to engage in casual sex (Feeney, J., Noller, and Patty 1993). Other common characteristics include a failure to support partners during stressful times and an inability to share feelings, thoughts, and emotions with partners."

Reference Link

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Characteristics of Insecure Attachment - Disorganized.

"Children with a disorganized-insecure attachment style show a lack of clear attachment behavior. Their actions and responses to caregivers are often a mix of behaviors, including avoidance or resistance. These children are described as displaying dazed behavior, sometimes seeming either confused or apprehensive in the presence of a caregiver.

Main and Solomon (1986) proposed that inconsistent behavior on the part of parents might be a contributing factor in this style of attachment. In later research, Main and Hesse (1990) argued that parents who act as figures of both fear and reassurance to a child contribute to a disorganized attachment style. Because the child feels both comforted and frightened by the parent, confusion results."

Reference Link

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January 21, 2009
4:54 pm
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This is very interesting, but I was not able to choose which ONE I related to.

What I can see is that all three correspond to different events that bore themselves into my memory during my early childhood. These memories affected my attachments in my later life. So I experienced all three at different times, and all experiences affected me and made me who I am currently. Does this make sense?

January 21, 2009
7:06 pm
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I would like to chime in here a bit and say that perhaps birth order as well can play a partial role.

(Everything plays a partial role - wouldn't you agree?)

Seems to me from previous posts, that perhaps several of us (myself included) are last borns.

Just an observation.

January 21, 2009
9:46 pm
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Hmmm..what about one parent being abusive, created terror within and, also, almost had shown complete rejection of the child..while the other parent was unavailable, physically, psychologically and emotionally?

January 21, 2009
9:50 pm
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All I can tell for sure is that I do not have characteristics of secure attachment and have varied characterisitics of all of the insecure attachment types.

Oh boy.

sd

January 21, 2009
10:21 pm
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I took the quiz on the link that you provided and in my adult relationships it said that I am insecure/anxious.
What's Your Attachment Style?

Romantic Attachment Style Quiz Results

Your Attachment Style: Insecure/Anxious
Based upon your quiz answers, you appear to have a insecure/anxious attachment style. People with insecure/anxious attachments tend to worry more about romantic relationships. You may worry that your partner does not feel the same way about you as you do about him or her, or you might be concerned that your partner will leave you. In some cases, those with an insecure/anxious attachment style want to become very close to their partners, but worry that this will scare the other person off.

While this quiz cannot fully describe every aspect of your attachment style, it can provide a basis for understanding more about your romantic attachment style.

For more information on attachment, read this overview of attachment styles.

On the childhood attachment style, I think a few on each category could have applied to me as a child. I feel if I had to choose one it would be the secure attachment. Which makes this last quiz seem really superficial.

What do you think?

January 22, 2009
1:57 pm
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I took the test for Romantic Attachment style: I scored a Secure Attachment Style. Wow, all of the changes, and paying attention has paid off!

Will take the others.

January 22, 2009
2:39 pm
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mj: I just took the test and I too came up with "Insecure/ Anxious".

My feelings are that it depends on what stage of the relationship a person is in. When its new, thats when I am the most anxious, when there is no committment. Once the relationship progresses, I feel more confident.

sd

January 22, 2009
7:31 pm
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My mother didn't want me. She wanted an abortion. My daddy fought her and won. He fought her for custody when she left him, but she won.

She always threatened to leave - the house in her car, this life at her hands, so I expected it.

He was always there for me, but he was distant due to the divorce, and because she decided when we saw him.

My mother's mom and younger sister listened to me and gave me squooshy hugs. Her older sister was distant, as she was to her own children. Her father was a distant figure. Daddy's relatives were further away, but loved us. (Me and sissy)

I believe my attachment style is disorganised. I can't make up my mind. I feel anxious after I realise I am trust a little. It might get pulled from me. I'm ok when it happens- I spent my life preparing for it, but I am usually the one that ends the relationship.

January 23, 2009
12:11 am
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on my way

On the 21-Jan-09 you wrote:

"I experienced all three at different times, and all experiences affected me and made me who I am currently. Does this make sense? "

I guess that the predominant characteristics not the lesser ones would point to your likely attachment style. I guess moms would be more in a position to answer for their children than the children themselves.

I think that the degree of rejection and abandonment one feels as an adult when rejected in a close adult relationship breakup reflects our attachment styles as an infant.

Again the caveat mentioned in my first post also applies. If you use the links above and go to the site referenced you will find both the caveat and the fuller description of adult behavior.

January 23, 2009
12:20 am
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red blonde
21-Jan-09

"Hmmm..what about one parent being abusive, created terror within and, also, almost had shown complete rejection of the child..while the other parent was unavailable, physically, psychologically and emotionally?"

My guess is that you would have experienced insecure attachment as an infant/child. What sub category I do not know.

When you have a fight with your lover and then your lover returns seeking reconciliation is your natural and predominant response to tell your lover to go to hell, and you avoid any contact? Or do you act ambivalently by showing both the desire to make up and the desire to punish and or avoid contact?

Again these demarcations are artificial with nothing ever being either/or i.e. completely black or white in this area.

January 23, 2009
12:31 am
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sdesigns

If it is any consolation it seems that approx 50-60% of Americans are classed as securely attached, 25% Insecure/anxious/ambivalent, and 20% Insecure/anxious/avoidant. It seems that "in a study involving 354 couples:
1) In over half, both had been securely attached
2) There were no anxious-ambivalent or avoidant couples!

Securely attached couples also communicate better."

So it seems thst insecurely attached people tend to avoid entering a relationship with other insecurely attached people. This is very interesting!

January 23, 2009
12:41 am
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mj

On the 21-Jan-09 you asked:

" What's Your Attachment Style?"

I believe that I was insecurely attached as a child fitting into the subcategory of anxious/ambivalent. I base this on my memories of my behaviour as a 4 and a half year old child when experiencing conditions such as Ainsworth's Strange Situation study as well as my subsequent adult behaviour.

"On the childhood attachment style, I think a few on each category could have applied to me as a child. I feel if I had to choose one it would be the secure attachment. Which makes this last quiz seem really superficial.

What do you think?"

As I wrote above these are artificial demarcations. In practice there will undoubtedly be overlaps between styles. I think that looking for predominance in characteristics is the key to classifying oneself.

January 23, 2009
12:47 am
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Bevdee.

Interesting! I wonder if many people who were securely attached as infants, would gravitate towards and post at this site. Do you think many would?

January 23, 2009
1:10 am
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Tez:

"So it seems that insecurely attached people tend to avoid entering a relationship with other insecurely attached people. This is very interesting!"

This made me laugh. How in the world COULD 2 insecurely attached people ever attach in the first place?? I'm doomed!

sd

January 23, 2009
1:16 am
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My attachment style is undefined. It is extremly impossible for me to attach, but once I do it is extremly impossible to detach. My parents were very uncaring, and negligent. I have no relationship with my dad and I am on good terms with my mom but have no emotional life with her. She doesnt care. My husband is an alcoholic he is unaffectionate and uncaring. Caring, loving people FREAK me out. I'm sure this makes no sense.

January 23, 2009
8:10 am
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Hey Tez

"I wonder if many people who were securely attached as infants, would gravitate towards and post at this site."

I doubt it.

January 24, 2009
12:49 am
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sdesigns

On the 23-Jan-09 you wrote:

"This made me laugh. How in the world COULD 2 insecurely attached people ever attach in the first place?? I'm doomed!"

Nah! Not doomed. Insecurely attached people form loving relationships with securely attached people all the time. Besides, I believe that we can develop our security levels in adult life far beyond that of childhood. So please don't take all this too much to heart. It is interesting stuff.

January 24, 2009
12:51 am
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Destinystar.

I would expect that you would likely be insecure/anxious/avoidant from what you write.

But that is only a guess.

January 24, 2009
12:53 am
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Hi Bevdee.

You are probably right. That suggests that everyone here is likely to have insecurely attached as a child.

January 24, 2009
6:00 am
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Hmm..I felt quite secure & attached to my folks as a child so, I don't see that as being at the root of my relationship issues, however, when I took the quiz it suggested that I was an anxious/insecure style. I answered neutral/mixed for a lot of the questions because I didn't see one clear-cut answer applying to all situations. It depends on circumstance.
Perhaps I've blocked out something from my past. Short of hypnosis maybe some of us will never fully know. Or maybe..it was the head trauma I'd suffered at age 18. (keep the jokes to yourselves, eh?)

January 26, 2009
11:58 am
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I came up as insecure/anxious but that is really no surprise when the most recent relationship with a man I had he cheated on me and left me feeling bad about myself.

Bitsy

January 26, 2009
11:54 pm
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Bitsy

Sorry to hear about your painful experience with the cheater. I think that cheaters, whether male or female, are very insecure people. Male cheaters want more than one 'mommy'. In case one 'abandons' them, they still have another.

Of course such a cheater would probably laugh at this theory, thinking that he only wants 'variety' in the boobs/bum/genitalia department.

Sternberg's Love Triangle defines the three corners of the triangle as Passion, Intimacy and Commitment. Complete love has an abundance of all three. Cheaters might be passionate; but intimacy and commitment are surely in very short supply in such cheaters.

Perhaps insecure/anxious/avoidant people find it hard to trust partners in a relationship. Perhaps this caused a depletion in the intimacy and commitment in a relationship. I don't know of any research substantiating this possibility. Do you?

As for you feeling bad about yourself, did you think that he cheated on you because you were not good enough to keep his undivided interest, faithfulness and loyalty?

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