The Concept of Adult Romantic Attachment


Continuing our discussion of Sue Johnson’s book Love Sense, this time we will talk about adult romantic attachment.

Adults’ attachment style is influenced by the attachment style they experienced with their mother (or other primary caregiver). Just like children, there are three types of attachment:
1. Secure attachment: is the optimal style. It is built based on the trust that one can count on his/her partner to be available and receptive when needed.
2. Anxious attachment: take places in a relationship where partners are inconsistently responsive and/or neglectful toward each other’s needs. Individuals with anxious attachment have difficulty trusting others due to doubt and insecurity.
3. Avoidant attachment: people with this style of attachment tend to suppress their emotions and desires for connection as a result of fear of abandonment and rejection. Adults with avoidant attachment view others as unreliable and/or untrustworthy.

Just like children, adults experience attachment threats in this way:
First step: anger and protest
Second step: clinging and seeking
Third step: depression and despair
Fourth step: detachment (the worst one).

Just like children, adults need a “secure base” in order to feel confident and able to meet their potential. Needing a partner is not pathological or weak, it is the way we are made. We desire to love and to be loved, to share ourselves with an intimate partner. When this relationship is threatened or does not exist, we may feel lonely, desperate, depressed or otherwise unfulfilled.

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