What are Attachment Styles feat. Kaylee Friedman
Anxiously attached people get labeled as clingy a lot. Anxious attachment people, pleaser codependent. These are all different labels for sort of the same relational style, and it’s the behavior of having to continuously check that the relationship is safe. How, everyone. Welcome back. This is the Mindful Space. And today we are bringing you Kaylee Friedman, all the way from Los Angeles, California. How are you today? I’m good. Thank you for having me. No, of course. Good morning. How are you today? I’m good. I’m excited to be here. I know. So excited. So I want to let you introduce yourself, as usual, personally and professionally to our audience for those who might not know you. Sure. So I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I lived in New Jersey for ten years and went to school, and then I recently came back. I’m a relationship therapist and sex therapist and a mindfulness instructor, and I love to facilitate workshops and lead people in healing experiences. Nice. Amazing. You’re a combination of a lot of things. I have many, many interests. Perfect. Well, today we’re going to focus in attachment styles. Right. That’s going to be our main topic. What are the attachment styles? What is an attachment styles for somebody who has never heard about this? Yeah, that’s a really good question. It’s a buzword on social media right now, everyone’s talking about what’s your attachment style? Essentially, attachment style is how you operate within relationships and it is something that you develop very early on in life as a small child. As a baby, you attach to your parents or caregivers, and depending on a combination of your temperament as a baby and your parents and how they relate to you, you develop an attachment style through childhood and then that shapes how you do relationships as an adult. And relationships just love relationships or in general for everything? All relationships. The general rule of thumb is that the more intimate the relationship, the more your attachment style kind of comes out. There’s a bigger risk when there’s more vulnerability. So you may not experience your attachment style in your relationship with the person who checks you out at the grocery store. Yeah, or like a coworker, but then boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, it starts to get a little more salient. Okay. And there are multiple attachment styles. Correct. Can you walk us through the different ones? Yeah, absolutely. So essentially, there’s three main attachment styles, and you can have sort of a combination of them in different ways. But the way that I like to think about it is sort of like a spectrum. And on one end of the spectrum, you have anxious attachment, which is a person who, when their relationship is in distress or there’s conflict, the person moves towards the other person. They want closeness, they want co regulation. Meaning when your nervous system is dysregulated and you’re in fight or flight mode, you want to calm down by being with the person and then on the opposite end is the avoidant attachment style and that’s a person who, when there’s conflict, moves away from the person they want alone time. You’re smiling, is that you? No, I’m smiling because that’s like the no commitment one, right? It’s not me, it’s the opposite. Been there. Yes. The avoidantly attached tends to avoid commitment because one of their core fears is losing themselves within a relationship. Okay? And so they need a lot of space and they need alone time. They want to self regulate, they don’t want to calm down with the other person, they need space alone to calm down. And then in the middle, I would say, is secure attachment. And that’s somebody who most people with secure attachment do tend towards one or the other when there’s a big conflict or they’re really under stress. But most of the time they can stay connected and have a healthy amount of space within a relationship. They don’t have attachment trauma. Usually they are very balanced when it comes to conflict or closeness. So for somebody who has the anxious type, what would their childhood be like for them to become or have this sort of attachment style? It’s really hard to say and I want to tread lightly because I don’t want to blame parents. They’re not the only reason that we develop certain attachment styles, although they do play a big role. But usually people with more anxious attachment style had some connection, some good regulating connection with their caregivers, but it was inconsistent enough that it wasn’t always available when they needed it. Okay, so they know what it feels like in their nervous system to be soothed by their caregivers. They know what it feels like to co regulate with another person, but the attachment was insecure or not always available. And so there’s always sort of this fear in the background and it might not even be conscious that that attachment could go away at any moment. Yeah, it’s like the insecurity of are they going to be here today or tomorrow or are they going to leave me? Exactly. And for the avoidant, would that be when the parents are just not there at all? That could be. Another reason that people develop an avoidant attachment style is that when they did try to co regulate with their parents, they actually received shaming or rejection or negative consequences to trying to connect with a caregiver. And so they find safety, more safety in being alone than they do within connection. That makes sense. And why don’t I have to ask about the secure? That means you had a normal parent child relationship or as much as you can, right? Yeah. Nobody’s perfect that your parents responded to your needs most of the time and you were able to calm down when you were upset most of the time with your caregivers. Is there a reason in particular maybe not why these attachment styles develop in early childhood and not when you’re an adult? That’s such a good question. That’s a good question. And attachment styles can shift as an adult, but they happen in childhood because babies are born without a fully developed nervous system and it develops over the first four years of childhood. So if you’ve ever seen a child throw a tantrum, they cannot calm themselves down until mom or dad or their caregiver comes and helps soothe them and helps them figure out what’s wrong and gives them a hug. And it’s because their nervous system isn’t developed yet. And so the only way that a child can be soothed and calmed down is to be soothed by an adult’s calm nervous system. That’s what co regulation is. And so as your nervous system is developing, your attachment system develops. That makes sense in a nutshell. When you’re small, you can’t regulate yourself, throw a tantrum so that’s when the parent comes in for you to develop the secured one, it would be when they would actually learn teach you how to soothe yourself. Right. If they’re dismissive or just shaming you, that’s when you would become what do you call it? Anxious or anxious. I’m like, wait, what’s the word? Does the attachment can the type of attachment be the same as being clingy? Like when people are calling you, you’re so clingy. What would that attachment style be? Anxiously attached people get labeled as clingy a lot. Anxious attachment, people pleaser codependent. These are all different labels for sort of the same relational style. And it’s the behavior of having to continuously check that the relationship is safe and the person’s not going to go away. How do these attachment styles or how can they have an impact in our relationships, whether it’s love or friendships? So many ways. Yeah, obviously depending on the type of attachment that you have. But pick one. Yeah, I’ll give you examples. I suppose if you are an anxiously attached person in your adult relationships, you might be hyper vigilant about the tone of a text message. You might read into things too much. You might worry that the person is mad at you when they’re not. You might need a lot of reassurance, a lot of consistent check ins and connection. You might want a lot of togetherness time and logistically. And so that could look like being labeled as clingy or needy. You might want a relationship that’s very close and sometimes even enmeshed, which can then you can get into codependency territory and it can become unhealthy. But if you work on healing your attachment style and having a balanced attachment style, an anxiously attached person might just end up having really intimate close relationships if they learn to manage their anxiety well enough. Yeah, the avoidantly attached person might avoid intimacy and worry that too much closeness will cause them to lose their autonomy. And so they might avoid close connection. They might have a lot of more surface level friendships. They might have trouble in a romantic relationship where someone wants that deep, consistent commitment, especially when there’s conflict. And so your attachment can affect how much togetherness or a partness you want from your partner. And if you get an anxiously attached person in a relationship with an avoidantly attached person and there’s not healthy communication and negotiation there, it can look like everyone is unhappy all the time. Yeah, those are the ones become toxic. Absolutely. You got to learn when to walk away either or accept you don’t want the commitment or accept that that person’s not ready and just move on. Yeah, anxiously attached people can get easily attached to avoidantly attached people because there’s a pursuer distancer dynamic going on. And there’s a whole pattern wherein the anxiously attached person seeks connection. The avoidantly attached person gets dysregulated because that feels intrusive, and so they move away. Them moving away triggers the anxiously attached person’s nervous system, and so they protest and chase, which triggers the avoidantly attached person who wants even more space. And then it just becomes this dance where the avoidantly attached person never has enough space to practice moving towards the other person to co regulate together. And the anxiously attached person never has the chance to get their own space and be independent and learn to self regulate. It can be to not say anything else because we’re recording, but yes, it could be messy. Do you think there’s a certain type that’s more typical for people or which one’s the one you treat the most when it comes to you? Well, those are two different questions. They’re both good questions. About 20% of the population has a secure attachment style. And then 80% 20, only 20 is secured. Oh, my God. Yeah, 20% to 25%. And then most people are either avoidant or anxious. I don’t know that there’s clear research about the frequency of each of those. I will have to check into that. But I do know that I see mostly anxiously attached people because anxiously attached people tend to be more focused on their relationships and more willing to go to therapy than avoidantly attached people. How can someone you mentioned that you can definitely change your attachment style as an adult. How can someone do that? What resources are there besides therapy? And how can they start working on themselves at home? So it’s unlikely that you would ever completely change your attachment style as an adult, but you can move into a more balanced place where you have a healthier relationship with it, with yourself. And besides therapy, I would say learning about attachment theory can be helpful. Learning mindfulness skills is really the main ingredient in my opinion, because you need to be able to observe yourself. You need to be able to observe your thoughts, your emotions, your physical sensations so that you can notice. Oh, I’m thinking really dark thoughts right now. I’m interpreting everything my partner is doing through this lens of fear. Maybe my attachment style is activated. Maybe I need to do some self soothing or I’m avoiding my partner. I’m noticing that I’m really craving alone time. Let me communicate that to my partner. So you can work on your attachment style when you become aware of it, and then you start to change behaviors, and it can be hard to learn how to do that. So if you can access therapy or treatment that’s helpful, or work with a coach or read a book, listen to podcasts, there’s tons of online workshops. You can take a day long workshop, learn about the attachment styles, and start observing yourself. And that in itself can be a game changer. I think a lot of people, like you said, it’s a trend. Everybody’s talking about attachment styles. There’s multiple books that everybody’s reading. But I feel that it’s important that once you recognize, okay, I have this type or this type, then you should definitely do the work. If your goal is to be in any type of relationship, of course. But like you said, it doesn’t just affect your love partner. It can affect your friendships, relationships with your own parents. I’m sure if you’re an anxious one, you have a lot of work to do and forgiving for the parents. So I think it’s imperative that somebody does go look for resources and help. And there’s so many out there that it’s almost impossible. If you don’t want to fix yourself, then you don’t want to fix yourself. The help is out there, guys. Right. I think that the ingredient that you need is just curiosity. Exactly. If you can be curious about yourself, about the theory, about information, about other people, their attachment styles, you’ll find your way. Yeah. I mean, why do you think it’s an imperative to get to know your attachment style? Do you agree what? I say that eventually it’s just going to affect you feel like you reach an age where you’re just like, all right, I got to do the work. I’ve been ignoring it for so long. Absolutely. Self reflection is scary for people because when you really look at yourself, you can often experience a lot of shame and self judgment and really painful feelings. And people don’t usually have the skills or the support system maybe, or the resources to have that painful experience and feel like they can still get through it and function and be happy and okay. So oftentimes people really avoid, like you said, doing the work, and it’s understandable. And I want people to know that there is help and there are resources, and you can always feel better and you can always find support and knowledge and skills that can help you get through doing those scary and hard things. Exactly. It’s very important. Is there any last message you would want to tell anyone that might be struggling with any type of attachment style? Well, maybe the anxious kind. Yeah. If you have an anxious attachment style and you feel like it’s affecting your relationships and causing you a lot of anxiety, it can be really helpful to refocus away from your relationships a little bit and turn inward and figure out what’s important to you. What do you like, what do you dislike, what are your values, what are your core beliefs? And start making decisions based on what you need and that can start really small, like what do I want to eat for dinner? What kind of lettuce do I want to buy from the grocery store? Because that’s my preference. And start making small choices that support you and your well being. Doing that consistently can really build your relationship with yourself so that when someone’s not available or you are in conflict with somebody, you can turn inward and feel comforted by your own self care. Couldn’t have said it better. One last question that I have out of curiosity. What would you think or what attachment styles are more compatible? Because we already did the opposite. But what about what are the ones that should be together, the ones that bond better? Well, the easiest relationship would be two securely attached people, but because that’s only 20% of the population, that’s not always going to not realistic. A securely attached person with an anxiously attached person or an avoidantly attached person can also work really well and be a great opportunity for healing for the person with the insecure attachment style. But two insecurely attached people can absolutely be together. It just takes a lot of work and a lot of intention and communication and you probably will need some professional help, at least as individuals, so that you can bring a certain level of skill to the table. But ideally, I would say a secure person with an insecure person is probably the most common and the most opportunity for growth. Yeah, I guess it’s all about perspective, right? It can be the more toxic one or healing journey for both of you. Yeah, if you’re willing to do the work, an avoidant person and an anxious person can heal each other and help support each other’s healing journey. That’s true. When your clients come see you, how do you work with them? Maybe a few examples of what activities or how you would work with them. What kind of do you give them homeworks or activities? Yeah, absolutely. When I see clients, I essentially create a program depending on what they’re bringing to the table and what their life looks like and what they have space for. We do a lot of mindfulness activities in sessions and I’ll give them mindfulness homeworks and assignments and meditations to practice. We talk a lot about attachment theory. We might do some somatic exercises that help teach people how to soothe their own nervous systems. I teach a lot about the nervous system and how to recognize whether you’re dysregulated or not. So that when you are dysregulated, you can use the skills that I teach my clients to ground themselves so they can learn how to self soothe and self regulate, and then they can communicate better and have healthier relationships. For those listening what could be a quick skill for them to practice at home today if they’re feeling that anxious attachment style coming out? Any Recommendations? Yeah, Absolutely. One thing that you can do really quickly is you just plant your feet on the floor. Do you want to do it with me? Sure. Plant your feet on the ground. Sit up straight and tall. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Let it go through your mouth. Another deep breath in and release and just bring your full attention to your fingertips. Then you’re going to curl your fingertips in as fists. Feel your fists. You’re going to take a deep breath in through your nose. Hold your nose and then clench your fists as hard as you can. Hold your breath and clench them as hard as you can. For five, four, three hard as you can. Two, one and release. Let it go. Just sit back and let your breathing return to normal. And just feel the sensation in the palms of your hands. Feel the blood moving through them. Feel that life energy. And then just notice anything else in your body that’s calling your attention your breath, your heart rate. I definitely feel relaxed. So that’s just a little way of getting out of your head and into your body. The tensing of the muscles and then the releasing can help move some of that anxious energy through your body. Concentrates It. It’s almost like you’re putting all the anxiety there holding it, and then like all right. Exactly. Little mindfulness exercises. So Easy. Yes. It’s so important. You could do this at home, at your job, anywhere. And people think it’s. I mean, yes, some of the things you need, the therapeutic tools, and it’s a little bit more complicated, but some other mindfulness practices is just you being conscious about your environment, yourself and just really taking the time to take a step back and see what’s really going on inside your brain and your body. So no, I love this conversation. I love the topic. I know we could keep talking for hours, but I got to let you go. But again, thank you so much for taking the time, for being here and talking about this very important and trendy subject. Thank you so much for having thank you guys for watching or listening. Don’t forget we drop a new episode every week. Don’t forget to subscribe and comment. Let us know. Let us know what you think. If you have any questions, we’re here. We’ll more than gladly answer anything you have questions for. Bye.