Attached to a theory

On Jan. 23, I started a three-week course called 21st Century Catholic Dating. The main topic has been attachment theory. John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist, performed a study called The Strange Situation with mothers and children. In the study, a mother and her child went into a room with a researcher. The mother left her child with the researcher for three minutes and then returned. Every child threw a tantrum when their mother left, but then responses deviated. Some children quickly calmed down, while others continued to fuss. The ones who calmed down had responsive, loving mothers, while the ones who continued fussing had cold, dismissive mothers.

This study symbolized that “The quality of one’s earliest emotional relationships has a lasting effect on personality.”

The results of Bowlby’s work also applies to adult relationships. Emotional support and dependency are key in the development of a child’s personality. In the past researchers believed dependency was a negative trait in human behavior. As we now know, human beings were created with a desire for human connection. In fact, we can’t survive without it.

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When it comes to relationships, “A sense of secure connection between romantic partners is key in positive loving relationships and a huge source of strength for the individuals in those relationships.” 

There are four attachment styles, and your relationship with your mother will determine where you belong. The four styles are secure/anchor (50-60%), anxious/wave, avoidant/island and anxious-avoidant (rare). Your style dictates how you function in a relationship and the type of partner you need. When my boyfriend and I took the quiz, both our results were secure. This means we’re happy people willing to share with each other. Anchors like us desire to be close and promote communication and intimacy.

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Your quiz result appears as a dot on a four-quadrant graph. My point, while secure, indicates that I’m 2.8 anxious and 1.2 avoidant. Every style has pros and cons. Being an island or wave doesn’t mean you’re never going to find love. It benefits you to know what you need in a relationship and who your best match is. As a wave, you need someone to calm your fears. If you’re an island, you need someone who will understand your need for space and independence. Just remember that your style isn’t permanent. As we grow and change, our style may change too.

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