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Attachment Styles (Part I)

How you approach relationships as an adult has a lot to do with your childhood relationship with your parents or primary caregivers. This phenomenon, known as attachment theory, was coined by British psychologist John Bowlby and American psychologist Mary Ainsworth.

Attachment styles or types are characterized by the behaviour exhibited within a relationship, especially when that relationship is threatened.

There are four types of attachment styles:

- Secure Attachment Style

- Anxious Avoidant Attachment Style

- Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

- Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style

Let’s understand each with examples from our favourite tv shows!

Secure Attachment Style

Adults with secure attachment styles can be seen to have:

  • Comfort and ease while getting emotionally close to people

  • Openness to be emotionally vulnerable with people

  • Independence within a relationship while tolerating space and boundaries

Missandei Missandei from the series, Game Of Thrones, is seen to form strong bonds with her queen and her romantic partner. She is comfortable with them doing what they want to, choosing how they want to live their life and, trust them in that process. The security within the relationship is reflected in her emotional clarity- how she doesn’t hold back sharing her true feelings, regardless of how they may react. She is honest and expresses herself to share rather than manipulate.

Cameron Cameron's security can be seen when he stands his ground- to knows know when to soothe and when to make fun. When Mitchell is worried he may have fathered a child after he and Cameron run into a woman Mitchell had sex with, Cameron says (without sarcasm), "This is just like the time you were worried you were going bald." They attempt to soothe each other's insecurities. They understand relationships need to be invested in, to create positive emotional experiences to keep their relationships fresh and fun- which is recommended for all couples. Being able to objectively discuss problems or take them along in stride inside of blaming each other is another noticeable aspect. Steve Roger In the movie "Captain America: The First Avenger", Steve Rogers was a Selfless and brave soul. While being a superhero is a lonely job, he can be seen to form close bonds with his friend Bucky and Peggy. Throughout the Avenger series, He didn't shy away from opportunities to express his opinions or ideas, even though his friends may not like them. Despite being betrayed by several people around him, he did not become distrustful. He was able to revive his bond and form new ones with the black widow, Falcon and Sharon Carter. Anxious avoidant Attachment Style Popularly known as Insecure, adults with this attachment style can be seen:

  • Being very Comfortable getting close, with very few guards.

  • Being open to being emotionally vulnerable within a relationship, but demanding their partners do the same, not allowing them to take things at their pace.

  • Not being able to tolerate space and boundaries of any sort and needing reassurance of relationship strength.

  • Easily prone to jealously.

Leonard Hofstader Initially, in the series, we can see how he was easily available and open to Penny, across the hall. He would take the relationship they have at a much faster pace. He would have difficulty accepting any form of compliments and with bouts of insecurity that he wasn't good enough. We can see the development of his character across the series into a secure adult as he learns to give space, put his needs in front but let Penny take things on her time and build trust within the relationship. Chandler Bing It is hard to fully place Chandler within a particular category, but there are distinct moments when he had difficulty tolerating Monica’s Ex Richard being within the picture, making him feel very inadequate, and needing reassurance about the relationship. After he successfully resolved those feelings of insecurity, he was able to maintain a strong security relationship with her, to the point of telling his secretary “I’m happily married”.

Amy Santiago Amy Santiago was initially very nervous and tried hard to always be on her boss's good side- Captain Holt. She would have trouble asserting herself and look for signs to indicate their closeness. She would have trouble understanding space or boundaries and attempt to become close without adequate signs of reciprocation. However, over time, we saw that although she continued to respect and admire Holt, she was able to stand up for her morals and principles even though it may put her on his bad side. Assertion of her needs while also being secure that the relationship will not be affected is a sign of the development of a secure relationship.

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