Much of what makes us human is our relationships with other people. Of course, relationships can be both the best part of our life as well as the hardest.
Many therapists say that learning to form healthy, secure attachments to other people is the most crucial task of early childhood. It provides the springboard for individual psychological health as well as healthy relationships.
Naturally, as kids, we don’t realize that. And our family of origin may or may not have provided us with the emotionally healthy environment we needed.
It’s easy to doubt ourselves when it comes to both friendship and romantic relationships. But there are signs we can look for us to help us gauge the health of our relationships.
Understanding Attachment Style
Briefly, psychologists categorize attachment styles as secure, avoidant, anxious, and disorganized. Based on the category names alone, you probably know that a secure attachment style is the strongest sign of a healthy relationship.
Interestingly, many of the signs of secure attachment directly reflect our emotional health. Many of them indicate a strong sense of inner confidence. And they relate both to adult friendships as well as to romantic relationships. The following are signs of healthy attachment in relationships.
How do you feel when you learn that one of your best friends has been spending a lot of time with someone you don’t know very well? How do you feel if you’re at a party and a good friend spends more time talking with someone else than with you?
If you’re coming from a place of secure attachment, you won’t feel threatened or jealous in these situations. You won’t feel a rush of anger at your friend for (supposedly) ignoring you.
Along the same lines, you don’t experience significant distress when a spouse leaves for a long work trip. You’ll miss them, but you know you’ll be emotionally capable even with them gone. You don’t depend on their presence and constant validation to make it through the day.
A willingness to be transparent and vulnerable in a relationship is a strong sign of secure attachment. After all, if we’re comfortable sharing details we wouldn’t share with just anyone, it shows we trust a friend.
Indeed, vulnerability is also essential to help relationships become deeper and more secure. When you open up fully, you create the chance for a reciprocal sharing. You learn things about each other you may have never guessed. This approach creates empathy and connection.
If you avoid sharing any personal details or feel anxious about sharing them, this can indicate that you don’t have a secure attachment style.
Reaching Out to Others
If you have a secure attachment style, you are more likely to reach out to others-both when you’re in a time of need, as well as just in general. You know that the support of friends is essential, and you’re not afraid to let them know you need it at times.
If you’re going through a crisis, you have the confidence to ask for their help. You don’t stuff it and withdraw. You don’t worry about being rejected.
Developing a Secure Attachment Style
As mentioned above, not all families can set their kids up for this kind of secure attachment. If you were raised in a dysfunctional setting, you might not recognize yourself in any of the above signs.
You might be struggling mightily to develop and maintain healthy friendships and romantic relationships. Perhaps you yearn for emotional closeness but can never find it.
The opposite is also true. Even if you developed a secure attachment style in childhood, life experiences could alter the way you form relationships.
Fortunately, it is possible to develop and change how you interact and bond with others, even in adulthood. It is never too late to address your feelings of disconnection, loneliness, or discomfort in social situations.
I specialize in helping adults just like you. I encourage you to reach out today to find out more about finding hope and healing.