According to Attachment Theory, how well you bonded to your mother is a clue to how you will bond in your romantic relationships.
Did your mother comfort you when you were upset as a baby and child? Were your parents reliable enough to consistently provide you with adequate housing and good food? Then you, like most people, are likely to have a SECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE. This means you are capable of loyalty and are able to sacrifice to form a committed relationship, whether the relationship is between you and your child, you and your lover, or you and a friend.
However, the other 50 percent of the population shows some kind of deficiency in their ability to form attachments. This may stem from trauma, whether the abuse or neglect happened in infancy or later.
The four attachment styles are:
- SECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE: developed in those who received love, food, and affection in infancy. They grow up to become good communicators and form strong bonds.
- ANXIOUS ATTACHMENT STYLE: they received an unpredictable amount of love, food, and affection. These kids think positively about others but see themselves as wanting. In romantic relationships, they tend to be quite needy.
- AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT STYLE: these infants got some needs met and others were neglected. They may have received food, but little affection. As adults, they don’t feel or trust others to support them emotionally.
- ANXIOUS-AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT STYLE: abused and neglected in infancy and childhood, they grow up to be both needy, but they also demand their space, forming particularly dysfunctional romantic relationships.
The good news is, people can heal attachment disorders and form close, loving, and healthy relationships despite their past.
For example, consider Meredith. Her mother was only 15 when she was born. Meredith never met her father and eventually learned that he was a predatory married teacher who rejected and shamed her mother once it became obvious that she was pregnant. Thus, Meredith’s mother had few social supports and was not mature enough to show Meredith the love and care she needed during her infancy and childhood.
Desperate to find a better home, Meredith also became attached to an older man when she was 15. Later, even in age appropriate relationships, her sense of self remained negative, she pushed away anyone who tried to get close to her. Her attachment style was firmly AVOIDANT.
However, she eventually met and married a secure person. Through this relationship she felt safe enough to commit fully. She changed her attachment style from avoidant to secure. When Meredith’s own daughter was born, she suffered some post-partum depression but with the security and support she had in her stable home, she recovered and became an excellent mother to her child.
Trauma need not mean that women are doomed to dysfunctional relationships. Learning new skills can remove past barriers to secure and strong partnerships. Strong relationships are beneficial to our physical, spiritual, social, and mental wellbeing.