How our attachment style affects our lives

Welcome to the third instalment of our attachment series.

In the previous blog, we tried to assess your attachment style using Farley, Waller and Brennan’s (2000) ECR-R Questionnaire.

 This section will see how our attachment styles affect our lives.

First, we’ll look at health, and then we will move on to the workplace. After that, we will look at friendships, then parenting, and finally, we will look at adult romantic relationships.

How does our attachment style affect other areas of our lives?

Our differing attachment styles can harm our lives and cause us stress or have a positive influence and a protective effect on our health and well-being. 

For example, fulfiling close relationships can lower rates of anxiety and depression and increase self-esteem and empathy, which may lead to more trusting and cooperative relationships. Being in a committed, solid, healthy relationship may also help strengthen your immune system, help you recover from disease, and lengthen your life.

In contrast, unfulfilling relationships can lead to loneliness, depression, anxiety, strokes and heart disease. Long-term feelings of loneliness can reduce our cognitive abilities, such as concentration, decision making, and problem-solving.

Attachment and health 

If you have an Avoidant attachment, you tend to be fearful or dismissive of intimacy. Therefore, you may perform behaviours that increase your likelihood of ill health. For example, you may:

  • Have trouble trusting health care professionals 
  • Delay reaching our for support 
  • Miss health care appointments 
  • Disregard preventive self-care recommendations for your chronic disease
  • Self-medicate with substance use

Anxiously attached individuals crave emotional intimacy. As a result, you may be more inclined to perform Risky sexual behaviour.

Individuals with a Disorganised attachment can have a mixture of avoidant and anxious health behaviours. In addition, individuals with a Disorganised attachment are more likely to be diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder.

An insecure attachment style ( Avoidant, Anxious or Disorganised) increases the chance that you will engage in negative health behaviours such as:

  • Smoking 
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Casual sexual relationships
  • Dysfunctional eating behaviours 
  • Poor adherence to preventative self-care recommendations 
  • Substance abuse 

As a result, if you have an insecure attachment style, you are more likely to be diagnosed with: 

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Coronary heart disease 
  • Angina 
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 

A secure attachment lowers your likelihood of engaging in harmful and risky behaviour and reduces the risk of disease and ill health. Unfortunatley, a secure attachment doesn’t stop you from becoming sick. But, being securely attached does help you recover from your illness quicker than those with an insecure attachment style. 

Attachment in the workplace 

Now let’s move on to the workplace.

How does an Avoidant attachment play out in the workplace? You’ll recall that those with an avoidant attachment retreat from closeness and create emotional and physical space between themselves and others.

Individuals with an avoidant attachment in the workplace are more likely to:

  • Experience less positive and more negative emotions 
  • Avoid interpersonal closeness
  • Prefer to work alone 
  • Avoids social events 
  • Have a negative view of and criticises the leader 
  • Resist leadership and new information when forming judgements 
  • Distrust others in general and leadership 
  • Not follow the group’s wishes 

Although there are negatives associated with Avoidants in the workplace, there are also positives to having avoidant individuals in the workplace; for example:

  • You may work well independently 
  • You can sustain focus on the task at hand and finish your work
  • You are quick to act in times of danger (effectively without hesitation)
  • You are task orientated 

The Anxiously attached individuals need closeness in their relationships and may face challenges in the workplace, such as: 

  • The constant need for approval 
  • Feelings of underappreciation and dissatisfaction in your job 
  • Feeling like you are unable to work on your own  
  • An overwhelming desire for closeness with your peers and investment in social relationships.
  • Negative expectations regarding your boss’ behaviour 
  • Hypersensitivity to feedback
  • Counterproductive work behaviour and constantly wanting to leave your job

In contrast to your challenges, you also have strengths in the workplace, for example:

  • You are better at detecting and responding to risk
  • You are more accurate at detecting deceit
  • You create less friction in the workplace 
  • You are aware of your shortcomings and seek ways to improve – which has a positive effect on performance 

Individuals with a Disorganised attachment are a mixture of avoidant and anxious attachment. If you have a disorganised attachment, you move away from intimacy and crave closeness. As a result, your experience in the workplace may include:

  • Feeling a mixture of Anxious and avoidant tendencies 

In addition to experiencing the challenges of the avoidant and anxious attachment outcomes, you also get to enjoy the benefits such as : 

  • A quick response to threats 
  • The ability to be independent and not rely on the support of colleagues 
  • Focus is on the job and productivity 
  • Communicate effectively and seek help when necessary 

The Securely attached individual will face ups and downs in the workplace. Still, they have the tools to navigate negative situations by:

  • Forming strong bonds 
  • Being perceived as valuable in the workplace 
  • Having little difficulty completing tasks 
  • Being likely to show trust 
  • Being the least likely to put off work
  • Enjoying high job satisfaction 
  • Having better well-being and fewer symptoms of illness 

Attachment and friendships

Now let’s look at the Avoidant attachment and how they behave with their friends. In friendship relationships, you tend to :

  • Build surface-level bonds with others 
  • Refuse to ask for help 
  • Be highly independent 
  • Be Self-reliant
  • Find that vulnerability makes you feel uncomfortable and suffocated 
  • Emotionally disconnect when you get close to others 
  •  want physical and emotional space 

In contrast to the negative aspects of your friendships, you also bring strengths such as:

  • Being friendly and popular 
  • Having confidence 
  • Being the life and soul of the party 
  • Not demanding of friends’ time 
  • Not needing friends to disclose emotions
  • Thinking logically rather than emotionally 

On the other end of the attachment scale, we have the Anxiously attached friend. When in friendships, anxiously attached individuals tend to: 

  • Come across as suffocating 
  • Cling on to friends 
  • Be Needy 
  • Come across as controlling
  • Be Insecure 
  • Become preoccupied with your friendships 

Your strengths as a friend include:  

  • Enjoying closeness and connectedness with friends 
  • Being friendly and accepting of others 
  • Becoming the caretaker of the group
  • Working hard to maintain friendships

As a friend with a Disorganised attachment, you may:

  • Crave attention
  • Be dismissive of friends’ needs 
  • Difficulty ‘opening up’
  • Act out 
  • Have difficulty regulating emotions 
  • Behave inconsistently 

On the plus side, you are:

  • Capable of showing affection to friends 
  • Capable of being supportive 
  • Able to show respect and accept support from friends 
  • Seen as adventurous and cool 

As always, the Securely attached individual has the best outcome in friendships. As mentioned above, Securely attached individuals behave differently under stress and lay the groundwork for fulfilling friendships by:

  • Having a good sense of assurance about yourself
  • Forming a trusting and lasting relationship with anyone. 
  •  Reaching out to connect with people
  •  Respecting your friend’s boundaries
  •  Being unlikely to have any resentment or repressed emotions towards your friends
  •  Preferring to seek out social support and share them with your friends.

That’s enough for this blog.

In the next instalment, we will see how our attachment style affects how we parent and how we behave in romantic relationships.

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