How you relate to other people is known as your attachment style. It develops according to how your parents responded to your needs during the first five years of your life.
Intrigued? Scroll the gallery to figure out what yours is.
As an infant, your primary caregivers were always sensitive to your needs. They readily provided support whenever you needed it and made you feel safe. You grew up confident and trusting, and felt like you could freely express yourself or ask for help.
As an adult, you have a positive view of yourself and find it easy to develop emotional bonds. You’re comfortable depending on others and having others depend on you. You feel connected to your partner even if they’re doing their own thing, and often find yourself in loving and meaningful relationships.
As an infant, your primary caregivers showed little or no response whenever you needed support. Sometimes, you were even punished for expressing your needs, so you quickly learnt to become a “little adult”. You grew up believing your needs wouldn’t be met, so you became distant and self-contained.
As an adult, you avoid emotional connections and don’t find relationships important. You handle conflicts by retreating into isolation.You suppress feelings and distance yourself from others. If your partner brings up breaking up, you’d probaby say, “I don’t care”.
As an infant, your primary caregivers were hot and cold with their responses. Sometimes, they were warm and sympathetic, but other times, they were stand-offish or even intrusive. You grew up suspicious and distrustful of them, but you also constantly strived for acceptance and struggled with high anxiety.
As an adult, you’re self-critical and insecure. You’re often unsure of your partner’s feelings, driving you to be clingy and controlling. You want close relationships but your mistrusting nature makes you do things that illustrate your insecurity, which can push people away.
As an infant, your primary caregivers were abusive and neglectful. You were confused as your attachment figure was also your source of distress. You didn’t know how to get your needs met and grew up feeling detached.
As an adult, you’re afraid of being too close to people, but you’re also afraid of being too distant from them. You’re easily overwhelmed by feelings so you regularly experience emotional storms. You want to have your needs met by your partner, but also believe that if you get too close to them, they will hurt you.
If you’re anything but secure…
It doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to living the rest of your life isolated, anxious or detached.
“Research has shown that about 30 percent of people undergo changes in their attachment style over varying periods of time,” says Swanie Khoo, a marriage and family counsellor at Relationship Matters.
“Healthy interpersonal relationships with your partner, friends or even supervisors can alter your adult attachment style. Ideally, they can become your source of safety, stability and confidence [and help you be more secure].”
Having a partner with a secure attachment style will also be of great help. “If you’re in a relationship where you can love, feel and reflect with freedom, there are possibilities for growth which can lead to a reconstructed secure attachment,” she adds.
An earlier version of this article first appeared in CLEO December 2017.
Images: Chalermpon Poungpeth/123RF.com, Shao-Chun Wang/123RF.com