What Causes Attachment Issues

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Counselling Psychologist - M.Sc. Clinical Psychology

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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Attachment refers to the bond and security that develops in close relationships. Bowlby and Ainsworth stated that attachment forms in the early stages of childhood but is a heavy influencer of adult relationships. When adults have repeated difficulty in forming and maintaining healthy relationships where they feel the bond and security, then there is said to be attachment issues. 

Attachment issues refer to the patterns of behaviour in relationships that make it difficult for people to maintain and form steady, healthy relationships. Attachment should be understood as the foundation of a house. If the foundation is strong and secure, then it will allow the house to have stability. On the other hand, if the foundation is compromised, then there is no guarantee over the stability of the house. 

Similarly, if you develop a secure and stable attachment with your primary caregivers during childhood, you are likely to have steady and healthy relationships in adulthood. However, many people have shaky attachment foundations that arise in the form of insecurity and avoidance. 

Insecure attachments are characterised by a difficulty to trust their partner, fear of abandonment and a difficulty in feeling secure in the relationship. Such partners require constant reassurance, attention and comfort to feel secure. Avoidant attachments are characterised by a difficulty in establishing emotional connection. Such partners often value independence over being dependent in the relationship. 

Causes of attachment issues 

  1. Inconsistent Parenting - 

One of the most common causes of attachment issues is erratic parenting styles. If parents are not consistent with showing up for their child, then the emotional and physical needs of the child will also be met inconsistently. The child feels that their needs will be met only if they get the attention of their parents. This can culminate into attachment issues in the form of insecure attachment where the adult requires constant comfort, reassurance and support. 

  1. Unavailable Parents - 

Unavailable parents are those who are not emotionally available for their child’s emotional problems. Many times parents who are struggling with other issues like mental health issues, financial struggles, don’t find it important to respond to their child’s emotional needs. The child then grows up with a difficulty in sharing their emotions. This can culminate into avoidant attachment issues where adults do not feel the need to express their emotions and in the bargain are not emotionally available themselves. 

  1. Childhood Abuse - 

In some extreme cases children are exposed to harsh and traumatic conditions. They experience abuse (mental, physical or sexual) and when they don’t get the right help at the right time, they are likely to develop trust and safety issues. A child who is exposed to abuse is going to find it difficult to identify and regulate their emotions properly. This can culminate as attachment issues into adulthood because the adults will find it difficult to trust and be vulnerable with another and might struggle with forming a secure relationship.

While these causes can be extremely subjective, it is important to understand the implications they can have on adult relationships. 

How can I stop my Attachment Issues from influencing my Relationships?

It is important to address attachment issues so that it does not hold you back from having healthy, fulfilling relationships. Here are some ways in which you can help yourself 

  1. Self-Reflection/Self-Awareness - 

The best way you can help yourself through your attachment issues is by reflecting on yourself and your behaviours. You can write down why you behave in a certain way and what is going on in your mind when you encounter difficult situations with your partner. Becoming aware of the fears and insecurities that are buried deep inside you is the first step towards action. 

  1. Building a Social Support System - 

The presence of a strong support system is often overlooked. When you are openly communicating with your loved ones about your attachment issues it gives you the chance to build trust and security. Sometimes the best people who can help you through this are your loved ones. 

  1. Professional Help - 

Attachment issues permeate through all layers of your adult relationships. Therefore, one should not hesitate to seek professional help for the same. A therapist is the best guide to help you deal with the insecurities, fear and unmet needs so that you can have a more fulfilling relationship. 

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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