Relationship Style: What Your Relationship Says About Your Parents

By: Nicole Bieniasz

Did you know your parents shape the relationship you are in today? The partners we select and the relationships we pursue are dependent on the attachment styles we develop as children. Parents are the first human beings to whom children develop an emotional attachment, which then dictates the different attachment styles they have. Attachment is a reinforced process that develops when parents respond and attend to a child’s emotional needs. Some parents will rush to their child the moment they cry, while other parents completely dismiss the action. The relationship the parents decide to have with their child determines the attachment style the child will have and grow into as an adult. There are four primary attachment styles that can be beneficial or detrimental towards an individual’s relationship as an adult. Here are the four attachment styles:

1. Secure Attachment: Children who develop a secure attachment see their parents as a secure base. The child feels independent and will continue to explore without the mother’s presence. Someone who is securely attached can easily be comforted in the absence of the mother even when it is clear the child only wants the mother. Relationships for this kind of individual reflect the mother-child relationship. A relationship with someone with a secure attachment is a healthy relationship where the person is honest, open, independent, loving, and empathetic.

2. Anxious/Ambivalent Attachment: A child who has an anxious/ambivalent attachment shows distress when the mother is not present and is not easily comforted upon her return. A child relies on their mother to fulfill constant needs and becomes clingy if their needs are not constantly met. A relationship with an individual like this is the opposite of a secure attachment. A person with this attachment faces frequent break ups and complains about cold/distant relationships. Anxious attachments cause a person to constantly seek a partner that will complete them.

3. Avoidant Attachment: This attachment differs from the two previously discussed. Avoidant attachment is seen in children when the child is indifferent about the parent’s presence. The way this person responds to parents and strangers is the same. Being in a relationship with this kind of individual is very difficult because this individual is emotionally distant. Avoidant individuals invest little or no emotional energy and find it very hard to connect with others.

4. Disorganized Attachment: This is a combination of anxious and avoidant attachments. The child has no definitive way of relating to those they love because this was never presented by the parent. Relationships for this person are very complicated because this individual experiences emotional storms due to the uncertainty of whether they want to be too close or too distant from the person. This individual trusts the same person they feel will hurt them the most.

Each of these attachment styles differ in their own way and are more complicated than others. If you are concerned that you or your partner are having problems, the licensed professionals at Arista Counseling&Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit for more information.



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