On January 23, I started a three-week course called 21st Century Catholic Dating. Even though I’m in a relationship, I thought this class could offer some insight. So far we’ve conquered 66.6% of the classes, and a primary concept we’ve discussed has been the attachment theory and its four styles. For those interested in psychology, you’ve probably heard about the research study that brought this theory into the light. John Bowlby, British psychiatrist, performed a study with mothers and their children called The Strange Situation. In this study, a mother and her child went into a room with a researcher. The mother leaves the child behind with the researcher for three minutes and then returns. Every child threw a fit when their mother left the room, but then the responses deviated. Some children quickly calmed themselves down, while others continued to fuss. The ones who calmed themselves down had responsive, loving mothers while the ones who never calmed down had cold, dismissive mothers.
This study symbolized that “The quality of one’s earliest emotional relationships has a lasting effect on personality.”
While Bowlby’s work was done primarily on children. It was found that his results also applied to relationships between adults. Researchers found that emotional support and effective dependency were two concepts that created additional strength in a child’s developing personality. In the past, researchers believed that dependency was a negative component in human behavior. Luckily, they were 100% incorrect. As we now know, human beings were created with the instinctual desire for human connection. In fact, we can’t survive without it.
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.”
The quality of your earliest relationship, preferably with your mother, will pinpoint the attachment theory style to which you belong. The four styles are secure/anchor (50-60%), anxious/wave, avoidant/island and anxious-avoidant (extremely rare). Your attachment style dictates how you function in a relationship and the type of partner you need to help you thrive. When my boyfriend and I took the quiz, we found that we’re both in the secure category. This meant that we were were both secure individuals, willing to commit and fully share with each other, generally happy people and able to adapt to the needs of the moment. A relationship between two anchors will exhibit a desire to be close, great communication because they know how to share without being accusatory and a natural longing to be intimate.
When you take this quiz, your result will appear as a dot on a graph with four quadrants. Your dot’s coordinates indicate that you’re also an ish-version of another category. For example, my dot appeared in the secure quadrant, but my dot’s coordinates indicated that I am 2.8ish anxious and 1.2ish avoidant. Every quadrant is different because every style has its pros and cons. It does not mean that you’re a terrible person who is never going to find love if you’re classified as an island or a wave. It simply benefits you to know what you need in a relationship and who the best match will be. If you’re a wave, you need someone who can calm your fears. If you’re an island, you need someone who will understand your need for space and independence. The most important thing to remember is that styles are not permanent. As individuals we constantly change through our level of self-awareness and the loving interactions we have with other people.