Trauma and Attachment

Finally, studies are showing that those with insecure attachments have a tendency for preoccupation, minimizing negative partner traits, idealizing the partner, staying anxious until the partner returns and therefore staying in relationships that do not provide security far longer than necessary.

Is this Codependence? No. According to new MRI studies, we now know that to attach is normal and even necessary. Some studies show the health benefits of being in a secure attachment with our partners like lower risk of heart disease and a better ability to deal with stress. It’s not the attachment that is of concern but rather the way we attach to our partner (our secure base).

For those who have come from trauma, there are two, sometimes three, attachment styles that an adult will develop;

Insecure/Anxious; Preoccupied with a partner and overly needing a partner’s attention.

Avoidant/Distant; Not concerned about the partner or even wanting a partner, including worshipping independence to the point of little to no relationships.

Disorganized; An inability to trust or attach to another, usually due to extreme childhood neglect or abuse.

The solution is to become aware of the types of trauma-attachment styles. You need to look for securely attached individuals in order to have a relationship that anchors you back to what we, as humans, are biologically wired to have; a partner who supports loves and creates security for us.

Insecure attachment styles tend to neurosis in relationships and avoidants tend to avoid relationships altogether.

However, when an avoidant meets secure attachment, there is potential for trust again and when an insecure attachment meets secure attachment, there is hope for reduced anxiety and a relatively safe and secure relationship.

In a nutshell, we need to attach first to our mother/father or primary caregiver and then in adulthood we need to continue this attachment with a safe and secure partner.

Therefore, if we have difficulty with attachment because of the mentioned trauma-attachment styles, we just need to be mindful of not attaching to either the same kind of attachment style or another trauma-attachment style. Instead, we need to look for a partner with a secure attachment. It isn’t co-dependent then when we meet a partner with the same trauma-attachment style as our own, nor are we crazy when we meet the opposite trauma-attachment style partner. We just won’t get what we need and might hold on too long, or worse, stop fulfilling the need for relationship, and miss out on that secure base.

This, of course, is easier said than done. What’s really wonderful, and I think a wonderful place to start for trauma-attachment is with a pet. Animals provide a secure base and a simple yet beautiful way to risk a secure attachment (if you are avoidant attachment style) and calming if you are (insecure attachment).

Give it a try… you might really love it.

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