Is it their attachment style, or are they just a d*ck?

In a generation of labels and boxes, is attachment theory a valid form of psychology or excuse for our toxic
dating behaviours?

What is Attachment theory?

It basically explains that the ways we form bonds and relationships is tied to the experience and care we received during our childhood.

Clinical psychologist Dr Abbye Hughes explaines, “It is essentially how attuned your parents are to your needs, and how warm they are when they are doing it. this affects how you relate and bond to other people, and how you see yourself. It rules how emotionally available you are, and how willing you are to resolve problems and leave toxic relationships.”

As individuals, we fall into two types of attachment: Secure and Insecure

“Someone with a ‘secure’ attachment most likely had parents who were warm, responsive and
consistent in their care,” Dr Hughes says.

They would have been listened to and validated as a child and all their needs met. Therefore, as an adults, they will find it easier to trust and have an easier time forming healthy relationship.

But someone with an insecure attachment style would have probably had a messy childhood with their emotional needs not really being met. The result of this is behaviours like being ‘clingy’ in order to get attention, following them into adulthood.

What are the different insecure styles?

  • Anxious – For these guys, it’s a struggle to feel a sense of security in relationships and will feel the need for constant reassurance. Signs of this are co-dependency, people-pleasing and low self-esteem.
  • Avoidant – In comparison, people who are avoidant can struggle to express and share their emotions and avoid vulnerability in relationships. Signs of this are hyper-dependence and emotional repression
  • Disorganised – This is often labelled as the most complex style of insecure attachment and is often tied to abuse and violence. They probably find it difficult to form trusting relationships, which can lead to situations of inconsistency or abuse.

Attachment theory and modern dating

As a generation, we feel the need to label ourselves and fit our behaviour into boxes for a sense of belonging. The recent popularity of attachment psychology across social media is just one form of this.

‘Ghosting’, a popular term online, is often associated with an avoidant attachment style and ‘love bombing’ is associated with an anxious style. And it fits, but it also raises the question: Are we placing blame on our attachment style when these actions are just part of modern dating?

Modern dating is ruled by talking stages and dating apps. Apps like Tinder and Hinge are a breeding ground for red flags and situationships and bad behaviour excused by having an avoidant attachment style.

What social media gets wrong

Dr Hughes notes that the idea of one lifelong style is a common misconception. She explains that your attachment style is constantly evolving throughout your life. It can be influenced and altered by the relationships in your adult life.

The care you receive as a child is no doubt a main source of attachment, but Dr Hughes notes that it is not the only source. An insecure attachment style can be altered through the influence of a secure partner who can help heal trust issues. However, you could also also develop an insecure attachment style through a toxic relationship.

So, is it their attachment style, or are they just a d*ck?

There doesn’t seem to be a simple answer to this. Overall, Attachment theory is a valid form of psychology which outlines how we approach and navigate our relationships. But it does seem the theory has gone too far. Where we get our information from is clearly important and social media has a lot of people just jumping on the bandwagon without properly understanding the science.

So maybe they do have an attachment style, or maybe they really are just a d*ck.

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