Adult Relationships —What Is Your Love Language?
Early childhood experiences have a massive impact on the way we behave and view relationships with other people.
Take a moment to think back to your childhood. What's the first memory or thought that comes to mind? Is it happy or sad? Now take another moment to think about the relationship you had with your parents. In your recollection were they emotionally available? Did they have time for you to sit and chat about the most mundane things or were they always preoccupied with the demands of survival? Now when you get a moment speak to your parents about what their life was like when you were between the ages of zero to five years old. Were you in a loving environment? Did you maybe grow up in a single-parent home? All these things have a massive impact on the way that you now interact as an adult within your friendships and relationships.
The work by Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) was able to put into logical concepts what different attachment styles people form based on the types of childhood they had. These relationship attachments styles form a large part of who we are as people, a large part of our personalities, and ultimately the basis for one's love language. Whenever we speak about love language it usually refers to what we want, but in order to love someone else for who they are, we actually have to learn to love them the way that they understand love to be and slowly show them that there is another way. So you're probably thinking "okay, so what are these attachment styles you speak of?" Here is a very brief introduction into them and I would highly suggest you go off and do your own research. For those interested in knowing their own attachment style, here is a link to an online test.
To take a relationship attachment style test click here.
Four types of attachment styles
Those with a secure attachment style are generally more secure in a relationship and have a healthy balance, approach, and outlook on relationships and love. They are a lot more grounded and understanding, are able to set and maintain healthy boundaries. They also are able to grieve the end of a relationship and move on in a healthy way.
DISMISSIVE - AVOIDANT
As the name implies, they are generally dismissive and avoid intimacy, as that would require them to be vulnerable, which of course people with this attachment style are trying to avoid. They also tend to push people away, especially when it feels like they are getting too close for comfort. This is largely because they fear being let down and intimacy/vulnerability, often leads to being let down. So they learned how to cope by avoiding intimacy. They are highly self-sufficient, self-reliant, and many tend to struggle with commitment.
People who develop this kind of attachment style have often experienced a lot of challenging life experiences and have associated love with either abandonment or abuse, as a result, they fear being intimate with other people. They often have a hard time relying on others and also push people away when it seems like they are getting too close.
ANXIOUS - PREOCCUPIED
Generally speaking people with this attachment style tend to feel less secure in a relationship and need a lot of reassurance, attention, and support to feel loved. They are also most likely to be dramatic, as the conflict helps to give that reassurance.
Did you recognise yourself or someone you love in these brief overviews of the four attachment styles? By understanding the way you attach to other people it will not only help you understand why you behave in certain ways, but it will also allow you to properly articulate to your partner what you need from them to feel loved and heard in a relationship setting. It is also very important to understand your partner's attachment style, so that you are able to love them in a language that they will understand.
As mentioned above, this is a brief overview of the attachment styles. It's important that you go and find out what your attachment style is and read up more on what you can do to have better relationships with lovers and friends alike.
“Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving. That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction—the satisfaction of having genuinely”― Gary Chapman, 'The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate'