Where Does Attachment Come From?

Attachment in humans

However you believe life started, the desire for attachment is in our genes. We want attachment as soon as we leave the womb. Before infants can learn they want attachment, they already start forming bonds. Ancient humans needed attachment to stay safe, reproduce, and survive (and to a lesser extent, so do most of us). Attachment instincts appear all throughout the animal kingdom.

The way parents raise their children can also impact future attachment success. Children with secure childhood attachments are more likely to have secure attachments as adults, whether in friendships or romantic relationships. Children with traumatic attachment experiences are less likely to develop secure attachments. Common attachment patterns exist, such as a couple with a pursuer/withdrawer pattern, or one person can have an anxious attachment style. One with an anxious attachment style may text their partner and not hear back for an hour. This experience could cause them to believe the relationship is over when nothing could be further from the truth. Dating someone with a secure attachment style could help the person with an anxious style feel safer in the relationship. One with an avoidant attachment style may try to achieve too much autonomy in a relationship.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is designed around creating healthy attachment patterns. Just because you or your partner have a common style doesn’t mean that style has to last forever. If an attachment style is more hard-wired, you can still learn how to adapt to it or the style of another.