A person is much more likely to develop a secure attachment style if early caregivers were sensitive and predictably responsive to one’s needs when growing up. Laying attachment solely at the feet of the quality of caregiving one experienced when growing up is too one-dimensional, though. Other factors play a role, as well. Being predictably exposed to other attuned caregivers, such as a grandparent, aunts or uncles, a coach, etc. can mitigate the effects of deficits in nurturing. Inborn temperament may play a role, as well. Most parents will say that their children were born with different “personalities” or temperaments growing up. “Fussy” babies may evoke more distress in their caregivers than “easy” babies, therefore effecting the quality of early interactions.
So what are the attributes of securely attached folks as it relates to their adult primary attachment relationship. Here is a list:
- They keep an emotional keel in the face of conflict.
- They are not as sensitive to the perceived negative cues of the world.
- They are great at conflict busting, not feeding a fight by acting defensively or seeking to punish their partner.
- They are mentally flexible, possessing a willingness to reconsider and revise their beliefs and actions.
- They can take a perspective other than their own, while also not discounting their own reality.
- They are effective communicators, expressing feelings, needs and desires freely and with clarity.
- They do not play games or believe that to give or receive is a zero sum game in which one person “wins” at the expense of the other person “losing”.
- They are comfortable with closeness, seeking intimacy and not fearing engulfment.
- They are quick to forgive, assuming their partners intentions are good, and accepting that people mess up at times, including them.
- They treat their partner well, taking an appropriate amount of responsibility for their partner’s well being because they recognize that when two people are in a relationship, they will effect one another in big and small ways and often on a daily basis.
Over the next couple of blog posts, we will look at the other two insecure attachment styles; the anxious/preoccupied style and the avoidant/dismissing style. Until next time, peace.