Attachment Styles (Love Styles)
by Mark and Jan Yokers
In our last article, we saw that Charles and Lucy were contemplating divorce but found relationship-changing help when they began to see and understand each other’s love style, also called an “attachment style.” Everyone has a love style, so Milan and Kay Yerkovich titled their book “How We Love.” A love style is not a personality type but an injury from childhood, most often developed by age 6. What triggers or upsets us in our adult relationships will have roots in those childhood injuries.
All of us have our shortcomings. (And this isn’t about bashing our parents.) Good parents can raise several children, and each child can have a different love style due to various influences. We live in a broken world; all of us have brokenness to one extent or another. A significant step in healing our marriage or primary relationships is in seeing and understanding our own brokenness and the brokenness of our partner.
Our personal love style is not “our fault.” It was formed through outside influences in early childhood. We (Mark and Jan) would like to briefly present the five love styles as laid out by Milan and Kay. We trust this will set you on a path of significant growth and healing.
“When we know our attachment style, we are able to connect, grow, and increase the quality of our relationships. Milan and Kay Yerkovich have done a great job of providing the steps.” DR. JOHN TOWNSEND, PH.D. Author of the New York Times bestselling “Boundaries Series,” Founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling at Concordia University, Irvine.
The following are the first two love styles: “The Avoider” and “The Pleaser.”
THE AVOIDER LOVE STYLE
“I like people, but I’m not very comfortable when they get emotional or needy around me. I like to keep it simple—it’s so much easier when people just take care of themselves like I do.”
Avoiders come from homes that are often low in affection but place a high value on independence and self-reliance. Avoiders grow up learning to take care of themselves. To deal with the anxiety of having so little comfort and nurturing from their parents, they have learned to restrict their feelings and suppress their needs. As adults, Avoiders can seem emotionally distant or unengaged.
Are you an Avoider?
If these statements resonate with you, you might be an Avoider. Take the quiz to find out!
• I am usually “fine”; when something bad happens, I try to get over it quickly.
• In my family, growing up, we rarely discussed personal concerns.
• I’m usually happiest when others are happy and don’t want a lot from me.
• I don’t really think about my own feelings and needs very often.
• I don’t really miss my spouse or family if I’m away from them for a while.
• I need my space.
THE PLEASER LOVE STYLE
“I enjoy caring for others and work hard at making those I love happy. I’m not great at saying ‘No’ or keeping boundaries, but anything is better than having people upset with me.”
Pleasers usually grow up in homes with an overly protective or angry, critical parent. Pleaser children do everything they can to “be good” and avoid troubling their reactive or anxious parent. These kids don’t get comfort; instead, they spend their energy comforting, caretaking, and appeasing parents and siblings. As adults, Pleasers tend to continually monitor the moods of others around them and try to keep everyone happy. Eventually, they can become resentful but rarely know how to express their own difficult emotions or ask for what they want.
Are you a Pleaser?
If these statements resonate with you, you might be a Pleaser.
• For most (or all) of my childhood, I could have been described as “the good kid.”
• I feel very upset if someone is upset or annoyed with me, so I am good at “keeping the peace.”
• I seek connection and avoid rejection by anticipating and meeting others’ needs.
• Conflict makes me uneasy, and I prefer to deal with disagreement by giving in or making up for it quickly and moving on.
• I have difficulty confronting or saying “no,” and sometimes, it makes me less than truthful.
‘Til our next article, be encouraged! There is hope!