Within families where parents can be attentive and responsive, children learn that they are valued and loved. Children are taught that it is good to pay attention to their emotions, they are encouraged to express themselves, and caregivers offer a sensitive, in-tune, caring response. They learn that it is safe to share their own needs and that their loved ones will be available and respond appropriately to those needs.
What does Secure Attachment Look Like?
Those who are securely attached feel safe giving and receiving emotional support. For example, it feels easy to reach out to loved ones for comfort when distressed. Likewise, it is easy to reach out to share positive experiences when excited or surprised.
The securely attached place a high value on relationships as they are a place of safety and comfort, finding it easy to demonstrate affection and appreciation. There is clarity about how to respond to threats to connection within the relationship. A disconnecting experience does not become overwhelming.
Secure attachment in relationships can look like this:
- If something is distressing me, I reach out to my partner with confidence that they will be there.
- When my partner is unhappy, they turn to me for comfort.
- My relationship with my partner has the utmost importance in my life.
- My partner and I prioritised supporting and being available to each other.
- I know I can count on my partner to be there for me when I most need them.
- I see my successes as our success.
- As long as my partner and I are connected, we can face anything that life throws at us.
Benefits of Secure Attachment
If you relate securely in your intimate relationships, you were likely born into a family with the safety and resources to attend to your emotional needs. On the other hand, if you grew up in a family with more of an insecure style but you have a securely attached partner, you may well have attained secure attachment through your adult relationship.
Being secure in your closest relationships brings tremendous psychological and general health benefits. Secure attachment soothes our nervous system, resulting in more happiness, less sickness, and a general feeling of being supported and confident in all aspects of life.
Making the Nurturing of Your Relationship the Priority
Secure attachment is not something we can take for granted and is always a work in progress as we navigate life’s stressors. Most secure people have a mixture of secure and insecure (anxious, avoidant, or fearful-avoidant) styles of relating; attachment is not fixed but on a continuum.
When we face a highly stressful or threatening situation, it is customary to lose sight of security. Therefore, it is imperative to nurture your relationships as the strength of this bond will help you weather the storms of life.
A great place to start moving towards security is to cultivate the practice of being available, responsive, and engaged, in Emotionally Focused Therapy, we call this an A.R.E conversation, with your partner. If you would like to learn more about relating securely and practising A.R.E conversations, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am seeing clients from my office in Hove and online globally.