Written by Heather Hans, Published by YourTango on July 25, 2018
Secure attachments are made, not born.
Humans develop a working model of themselves through the attachments formed with their primary caregivers during their early years. Each child is born with a distinct temperament and the caregiver’s attunement to their child’s needs sets the stage for the child’s future relationship with themselves and others, especially romantic in relationships.
About half of all children are said to have secure attachments, meaning that they got the attunement and consistency they needed when they were young and, therefore, they tend to have healthy and stable relationships with themselves and others as adults. The other half has a more difficult time with trust, intimacy, anxiety, and/or anger.
If you are one of the later who did not get the attunement you needed and struggle with relationships (with yourself and others), take heart knowing that that attachment styles can be changed over time, especially through intimacy building exercises and shared activities with your partner.
Whether you would like to make your own attachment style more secure, or you would like to determine if a potential mate has a secure attachment style, here are 10 personality traits to work for and look for.
Keep in mind that people with secure attachments are most often attracted to other people with secure attachment styles:
1. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence, also known as attunement, is the capacity to express and receive emotions appropriately and constructively. It represents the ability to empathize.
Securely attached personalities communicate directly and do not need to run away or explode in anger during disagreements. They possess resiliency and use their relationship difficulties to learn and grow, individually and together.
A person with a secure personality follows through on their word most of the time. If they can’t, they explain, usually in advance. They do not use distancing strategies, as the insecurely attached do. Their intentions are clear and they avoid sending mixed messages.
3. Comfortable with intimacy and commitment
Secure personalities enjoy intimacy and commitment. They don’t fear that they will be rejected if they become to close, nor do they fear their freedom will be thwarted if they commit.
Secure partners include their mates in their decisions. They do not make decisions unilaterally, as those with insecure attachments do. They know how to negotiate. And they view themselves as a unit.
Secure personalities don’t believe relationships are hard work, nor do they feel they have to play games in order to keep their partner’s interest. There is a certain amount of effort and dedication that creates a successful partnership, but it’s natural and you feel motivated to do it. Whenever something is viewed as really hard work, it makes it more difficult to achieve.
For example, people who maintain healthy lifestyle practices are motivated and, while they spend energy to create their healthy lifestyle, they do not view it as a burden. Someone who has destructive habits often views healthy living as difficult to achieve and so it is much harder for them to achieve and sustain good health.
People with insecure attachment have unrealistic views of how relationships should work. They can be rigid and uncompromising. Those with secure attachment styles accept the totality of life and let things roll off their back a little easier. They even recognize that it’s the imperfections in their partner and their relationship that make it so special and lovable. Note that this does not mean they put up with abuse or neglect, but rather idiosyncrasies that don’t cause real harm to the relationship.
7. Views you as someone who can help them learn to love greater, rather than helping to save them from fear.
It’s perfectly reasonable and necessary for one partner to comfort the other during times of stress and anxiety. Everyone gets scared at times, even the most securely attached people.
Aside from such moments of fear, the overall purpose of the relationship with yourself and your partner is to increase your capacity to love and help put you in touch with your power.
Securely attached personalities know that it’s each person’s responsibility to put 100% into the relationship, yet each partner is only responsible for half of the relationship. They do not feel responsible for the entire relationship. Nor do they expect their partner to carry the majority of the weight. They each take responsibility and set the tone of the relationship. They mutually nurture it as if it were its own separate, entity because it is.
People with secure attachments know how to trust others because they had trustworthy providers. A mistrustful personality fears being taken advantage of by their partner (usually with good reason), but it prevents them from developing intimacy.
Secure personalities also don’t spend much time worrying about rejection and are not preoccupied with anxieties about the relationship. They are relaxed, lighthearted and cheerful about it.
As someone who was clinically trained in attachment theory and spent my life deeply immersed in the study of human relationships, I have found that rather than label yourself as someone with an insecure attachment, and feel doomed, you must put energy towards what you want.
If you freak yourself out by reading all of the horror stories and characteristics of someone with insecure attachments, or blame your childhood or past circumstances for ruining you, you will indeed create a hopeless future.
Instead, you must study the signs of secure attachments and work towards them. Research shows it’s possible, now you must simply believe!
Like everything in life, what you focus on grows. It’s critical that when you want to change something, you focus on what you want to change to instead of what you want to change from. By doing so, you can achieve a secure attachment.