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Love Languages and Attachment Styles

Picture of a child and parent flying a kite together

I love teaching people about Attachment Theory and how it can influence how we interact with others in relationships.

Attachment Theory categorizes attachment into 4 categories. The first one is secure attachment, the other 3 are under the insecure spectrum. Here is a quick overview of the 4 Attachment Styles:

 

SECURE ATTACHMENT

According to the Attachment Project, parents who create a secure attachment make their children feel emotionally/physically safe, seen and known, comforted, soothed, and reassured, valued, and supported (enough to explore the limits of who they are). Parents of securely attached children provide this level of safety and security with as much consistency and predictability as possible.

 

Insecure Attachment

Studies have shown that parents tend to parent the way they were parented. When insecure attachment develops in children, it is usually because the caregiver was unable to meet their safety and security needs for some reason, or the parents’ ability to meet these needs was interrupted (e.g., death, divorce, sickness, etc.).

 

PREOCCUPIED (or Anxious-Preoccupied) ATTACHMENT:

People who develop this type of attachment style usually had parents who were very inconsistent in providing safety and security for their children. The child does not have predictability in knowing what type of parent they will get in a given situation. At times the parent will be supportive and loving, and other times the parent may be harsh and unkind. Parents may seek emotional/physical closeness with the child in order to meet their own needs, rather than seeking to meet their child’s needs of safety and security. These parents may have been over-protective or “helicopter” type parents.

 

AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT (or anxious-avoidant):

People who develop this type of attachment style, usually had parents who encouraged a premature sense of independence in their children. Parents were usually unable or unwilling to offer physical or emotional comfort. Parents usually ignore their child’s cries of distress or discomfort. When the child does display emotion, the parent would usually shame the child but trying to get them to “stop it.”

 

DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT (or fearful or unresolved):

People who have this type of attachment have a severe case of preoccupied and a severe case of avoidant. Parents are usually very frightening and could have been abusive. Parents had unresolved trauma or loss. Parents are scary to their children.

 

For more information on Attachment Styles you can read more here. You can also grab a free devotional on Attachment here.

 

In our last blog post, we looked at how love languages can strengthen our relationships by doing things for others that make them feel known, valued and loved. Relating to each other in these ways can help us feel more secure in relationships.

 

People with insecure attachment styles can often struggle with intimacy and closeness and may have difficulty identifying and telling you their wants and needs. Here are 9 practical ways you can show your loved one how much you care, keeping in mind attachment and love languages:

  1. Be Genuine: Authenticity is key to every relationship, especially with people who are healing from insecure attachment. People with insecure attachment styles can be sensitive to insincerity, so make sure your actions are heartfelt and genuine.
  2. Acknowledge Their Strengths: Point out their positive qualities, talents, and strengths. Let them know you recognize and appreciate what makes them unique.
  3. Respect Their Independence: People with insecure attachment value independence and autonomy. Acknowledge their ability to handle challenges and make decisions on their own.
  4. Encourage Open Communication: Create a safe and non-judgmental space for them to express themselves. Encourage them to share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without fear of criticism. When they are sharing things that are important to them, try to listen more and talk less.
  5. Be Patient and Understanding: Understand that people with insecure attachment may have difficulty with emotional vulnerability. Be patient as they navigate their feelings and reassure them that it’s okay to share at their own pace.
  6. Use Affirming Language: Use positive and affirming language to express your appreciation and admiration for them. Words like “I admire,” “I appreciate,” and “I value” can encourage them to be more vulnerable and lead to feelings of safety and security.
  7. Be Consistent: Consistency is important for building trust with people who have an insecure attachment style. Continuously reinforce your positive affirmations and support to demonstrate your commitment to them.
  8. Respect Their Boundaries: Avoid overwhelming them with excessive praise or affection. Respect their need for space and boundaries and let them know that you’re there for them whenever they’re ready to connect.
  9. Celebrate Their Progress: Acknowledge and celebrate their efforts, achievements, and personal growth. Let them know that you’re proud of them and believe in their ability to overcome challenges.

By offering acts of service in a respectful, considerate, and non-intrusive manner, you can show people with an insecure attachment style that you care about their well-being and are willing to support them in ways that honor their need for independence and autonomy. Doing these things can also go a long way in healing past attachment wounds.

 

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