Mental health series discusses attachment styles

Each attachment style has different triggers, responses to life stressors

Those+with+a+secure+attachment+style+often+have+low+anxiety+and+are+less+likely+to+avoid+their+partners+during+conflict%2C+said+Elizabeth+McSpadden%2C+research+assistant+for+Cougar+Health+Services.

SCREENSHOT OF MEETING

Those with a secure attachment style often have low anxiety and are less likely to avoid their partners during conflict, said Elizabeth McSpadden, research assistant for Cougar Health Services.

ADALINE GRACE, Evergreen reporter

WSU students learned how people with different attachment styles respond to isolation caused by the pandemic during a Real Talk Thursdays event hosted by Cougar Health Services.

There are four main attachment styles. Each style has different triggers and responses to life stressors, said Elizabeth McSpadden, research assistant for CHS.

“Attachment styles can translate to other relationships besides romantic,” she said.

McSpadden said people who exhibit a secure attachment style can still be triggered by stressful situations like a pandemic. 

People who have secure attachments are typically in stable relationships. McSpadden said those with a secure attachment style often have low anxiety and are less likely to avoid their partners during conflict.

However, they tend to be less understanding of others and are hesitant to develop relationships outside of their existing ones. During isolation, securely attached individuals are more likely to reach out and contact others, she said.

People with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style have low anxiety but are more likely to avoid their partners during conflict. This attachment style may be caused by emotionally unavailable parents and increased independence at a young age, McSpadden said.  

McSpadden said those with this attachment style can appear more hostile, sensitive and aloof. They are also less likely to commit to long-term relationships. 

“This can lead to the individuals questioning whether their partners are right for them, and cause them to be generally very distant,” she said.

During the pandemic, avoidant-dismissive people may feel trapped and vulnerable. This may lead them to withdraw from others. However, because they are extremely isolated, they may crave connection with others more than usual, she said. 

Those with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style have high anxiety and are less likely to avoid their partners during conflict. This means that they can come off as clingy or reliant on their partners, McSpadden said.

McSpadden said people with this specific attachment style are more likely to text and call loved ones multiple times for comfort during difficult situations. They often seek reassurance in a relationship and constantly question their partner’s reliability.

During the pandemic, subjects with this attachment style are more likely to reach out to familiar people like ex-partners, even if it is unhealthy for one’s well-being, she said. 

The avoidant-fearful attachment style is a mix of both the avoidant-dismissive and anxious-preoccupied attachment styles. People who display an avoidant-fearful attachment style have high anxiety and are more likely to avoid their partners during conflict, McSpadden said. 

McSpadden said those with this attachment style may appear unstable. Typically, people with this attachment style were discouraged from having emotional outbursts during childhood. This is similar to people with avoidant-dismissive qualities. 

What makes the styles different is that those with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style crave control and can become easily overwhelmed in uncertain situations that lack closure, she said. 

In isolation, they may show signs of helplessness and are more likely to avoid text messages and phone calls. People with this attachment style are also more likely to initiate conflict, she said.