Why are we still attracted to people who ignore us?
There are many reasons why certain people might become distant when we show them a need for intimacy when talking about couples. A frequent possibility is an incongruence of the attachment style, that “It’s not for you” that we hear from our friends when we complain that we are ignored.
If we make an analogy with personality, which is a pattern of thoughts, emotions and behaviors, the attachment style is a pattern of thoughts, emotions and behaviors in the context of getting closer to aperson.
Bowlby, a well-known personality in the context of attachment studies, suggests three categories for the patterns in attachment such as: secure, anxious and avoidant.
It is quite fascinating that our attachment patterns towards potential partners is linked to the attachment that we had in childhood with our parents. Regarding of the warmth we were getting (or not) when we were little, that is how our attachment styles has developed into what it is now.
If we are an adult with secure attachment style, we generally have much more satisfaction in our romantic relationship. Most probably we used to have a secure relationship with our parents when we were younger, we could explore the environment and come back whenever we felt like to our parents, where we were welcomed with attention and warmth. As an adult, we developed a mental model that dictates the fact that the attachment figure (now our partner) is available, sensitive to our needs and supportive. Thus, if we have a relationship with someone, we often experience feelings of safety, connection and freedom to be (Bowlby 1980, p. 242).
If we are an adult with an anxious attachment style, generally we are more preoccupied of our love life than others. We probably had an ambivalent relationship with our parents where we were little (it was a 50-50 if they were okay to us or not), and this created in us an antenna for rejection. As an adult, we developed a mental model that constantly whispers to us that the attachment figure (now our partner) might leave us or lose interest. Unfortunately, it’s exactly that fear that makes us more dependent and needy.
If we are an adult with an avoidant attachment style, we are not very preoccupied with romantic relationships. In our childhood our parents were either absent or very cold meaning that we couldn’t seek shelter and be accepted as we are at home. We grew up learning how to deal with things on our own and not depending on anyone. As an adult, we developed a mental model that supports the idea of not needing someone. Our relationships are short and superficial, and we don’t pay too much attention to this topic.
💡Tips & Tricks:
- People with secure attachement is a healthy match for every attachment style
- The ones with anxios style are the most attracted to avoidants because of their emotional activation that is often confused with „chemistry/love butterflies”
- Attachment styles are flexible and can change through new experience with a secure partner, psychotherapy or meaning. Dr. Dan Siegel supports that accepting and understanding the meaning of less pleasent situations regarding our parents in childhood, these will no longer affect us in a negative way when we make relationship choices.
- Bowlby, J., May, D. S., & Solomon, M. (1989). Attachment theory. Lifespan Learning Institute.
- Bowlby, John. Attachment and loss, vol. II: Separation. Vol. 2. New York: Basic Books, 1973.
- Levine, A., & Heller, R. (2012). Attached: The new science of adult attachment and how it can help you find-and keep-love. Penguin.