My wife and I love watching home shows on HGTV. From House Hunters, to Property Brothers, to Flip or Flop, hopeful families, young professionals, and empty nesters are all searching for their perfect home. Homes are similar to relationships: they can both provide a sense of joy, comfort, safety, and protection from the elements in the world. They can provide space for growing intimacy and can help support growing families. They can also be tremendous sources of disappointment, stress, and shame. On TV, when each home is considered, various problems in the home are discovered, and an inspector is hired to decide whether the cracks in the walls, uneven flooring, or rusted pipes are cosmetic or indicative of more significant damage. The same question can be raised about the problems we encounter in our relationships. Below are three signs that can help you discern whether the difficulties in your relationship are “surface cracks” or “structural damage” that may indicate the need for more intensive repairs.
Our adult relationships can take on many of the same features that characterized our earliest attachment relationships with our primary caregivers. Our current experiences are filtered through these “lenses,” and the past becomes recreated in our present. In this article, I’ll discuss the different styles of attachment we can develop, how our core attachment styles give rise to the variety of problems we experience as adults, and how our problematic attachment styles may be modified to make changes that last.
Attachment theory has enormous implications for our understanding of relationships and the variety of psychological problems we can encounter. Attachment theory was pioneered by John Bowlby. Bowlby was a British psychoanalyst during the 1930s who worked in a home for delinquent boys with difficulties forming close emotional bonds with others. Bowlby noted that each child came from a home marked by chaos, neglect, and emotional deprivation. As a result of his investigations, Bowlby concluded that the need for a close, emotionally supportive relationship with a primary caregiver is a basic human need on par with the need for food, water, and shelter . This is the foundation of attachment theory. In this article, I’ll consider several questions related to attachment including: What is attachment? How does it develop? And how does our attachment history continue to impact our adult relationships?