The Worst Attachment Style For A Relationship

Using this word is a sign of one of the worst attachment styles for a relationship.

Using this word is a sign of one of the worst attachment styles for a relationship.

A person who is avoidantly attached to their partner dislikes using the word ‘we’ when discussing the relationship, research finds.

Instead, avoidantly attached individuals use the word ‘I’ more often.

Attachment styles analyse how people respond to threats and problems in their personal relationships.

Around one-quarter of people form avoidant attachments with others.

Avoidant attachments are where one person (or both) in a relationship won’t commit because they want to avoid getting too attached to the other.

Avoidantly attached people dislike a partner who is too “clingy”.

Dr Will Dunlop, the study’s first author, said:

“The pronouns individuals use when narrating their previous experiences from within their romantic lives provide a clue as to their corresponding attachment styles.”

The study included data from 1,400 observations spread across seven different studies.

The results showed that people who avoided using the pronoun ‘we’ were more likely to be avoidantly attached.

Dr Dunlop said:

“Anxious and avoidant attachment styles capture individual differences in the ways people think, feel, and behave in romantic relationships.

Given that those with higher levels of avoidant attachment were found to demonstrate lower levels of we-talk when describing experiences from their romantic lives, considering the use of we words (e.g., us, ours) in the disclosure of previous romantic experiences may offer indication of one’s avoidant tendencies.

This is a relatively novel and indirect way of gauging avoidant attachment, as individuals are typically unaware of the pronouns they use.”

An avoidant attachment style can spring from having caregivers who were over-intrusive, i.e. who are always managing the child’s life and trying to do everything for them.

Avoidance is also the result of unresponsive parenting, which is the opposite of over-intrusive parenting.

Unresponsive parents show little warmth, are emotionally distance, may intentionally avoid their children and have few expectations of their child’s behaviour.

Both types of parenting — too much and too little — are linked to an avoidant attachment style as an adult.

The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science (Dunlop et al., 2019).

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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.