This just in: Daddy issues are a real thing. In the earliest months of our lives, we are forming critical attachments, or emotional bonds, to our loved ones. Typically, as long as someone is there to provide love and support, and does so quickly and consistently throughout childhood, a person is more likely to engage in healthier attachments later on in life (via Verywell Mind). However, those who struggle to receive quality care in the earliest years of their life may have a programmed tendency to form unhealthy attachments.
As psychologist Jade Wu detailed in Scientific American, it is believed that most people fall into one of four attachment styles: Secure, dismissive-avoidant, anxious-preoccupied, and fearful-avoidant (or disorganized). Thankfully, as Wu illustrates in her article, each character from the television show How I Met Your Mother seems to paint a rich picture of every attachment style. Lily and Marshall are a prime example of secure attachment as they both felt comfortable openly expressing love and trusting each other even when it was difficult to do so.
Barney, on the other hand, displayed a dismissive-avoidant attachment style in the way that he was so emotionally independent that he did not feel the need to forge deeper personal connections with his love interests. The show’s main character, Ted, always seeks approval, responsiveness, and reassurance from his partners due to his anxious-preoccupied attachment style. And finally, Robin displays a fearful-avoidant, or disorganized, attachment style as she struggles with wanting emotional closeness but also with the tendency to push that closeness away.
There are ways to overcome the downfalls of your particular attachment style
To put it as plainly as possible, a truly healthy relationship is a secure one. At the end of the day, people in secure relationships feel comfortable allowing their partner to have a bit of independence while also being able to reach out to their partner when they need love or support. In a secure relationship, there is an abundance of trust and understanding. This, according to PsychCentral, is the end goal. Though altering an attachment style can be difficult since it is formed from a young age, there are ways to recognize the behavior and alter it before it affects your relationship in a negative way.
Especially for those who identify with the anxious-preoccupied attachment style, being in a relationship with someone who has a secure attachment style can also help them feel more secure. Classic anxious-preoccupied folks will also benefit from working on raising their self-esteem on their own time, since much of their troubles stem from a low self-worth.
If you relate more to Barney’s desire for emotional independence (and absolutely detest being dependent on someone else to fulfill your emotional needs), psychologists suggest taking more risks. Instead of playing games and attempting to manipulate every romantic interaction, try instead to be authentic and direct. And lastly, those with a mix of these two attachment styles can simply benefit from remaining true to their own emotional needs by voicing them and talking about them with a romantic partner (per PsychCentral).
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