As it is now February and this month we are focusing on relationships, we wanted to provide you with information surrounding love by reflecting on love languages in romantic relationships and their connections to the various attachment styles.
To provide a brief overview: love languages consist of five core ways individuals express affection; these include words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. These were created by author and speaker Gary Chapman in his wildly popular book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (1992). These love languages can either be provided to a romantic partner or received from one as it is all about expressing and appreciating whichever style the person connects to the most.
Attachment styles originate from British Psychologist John Bowlby’s study of the theory of attachment. This theory began as a way of investigating how children react when their mother leaves and re-enters a room; will they cry once they recognize she’s gone and be joyful when she returns, or not acknowledge that she left and continue to be dismissive when she comes back? The four most commonly known attachment styles include secure attachment, anxious-preoccupied attachment, avoidant-dismissive attachment, and fearful-avoidance attachment. For more information regarding the various attachment styles and each of their definitions read our previous blog titled “Your Attachment Style Is Impacting Your Relationship”.
You may be wondering how these two seemingly different topics correspond with one another. The way a partner presents their love language(s) may be in response to their attachment style from childhood and how it develops in adulthood. A person’s attachment style informs us on how they manage conflict, attitudes in social situations, and emotional regulation.
With that being said, it can be important to recognize how your attachment style impacts romantic relationships as it may help create an understanding of your behavior, perception of a partner, and your response to intimacy. By acknowledging your attachment style, give yourself the ability to render what you require in relationships. In order to understand how these attachment styles may be impacting romantic relationships, acknowledging the various signs of each style is a good way to begin.
Secure Attachment and Love Languages
Secure attachment could mean that a person enjoys giving and receiving words of affirmation due to the fact that they feel more comfortable with verbal communication. However, some other traits exemplified in those with secure attachment include having trust in others, independence, good self-esteem, and being emotionally available and supportive. A secure attachment is typically the result of a feelings of security from caregivers as a child and being able to find that safety within themselves throughout development.
Avoidant-Dismissive Attachment and Love Languages
Avoidant-dismissive attachment may be a result of caregivers being absent, strict, or emotionally unavailable, thus making it challenging for the child to trust and express their needs easily. However, this attachment style can present itself in adulthood through the person being emotionally and physically dismissive toward those around them, consistently isolating themselves to avoid social interactions, and having overall commitment issues. Avoidant-dismissive attachment may cherish more quality time or physical touch as their love languages because these seem to require the least amount of verbal expression but still establishes affection and appreciation. Someone with avoidant-dismissive attachment might find it challenging to value majority if not all love languages due to their tendency to avoid emotional connection.
Anxious Attachment and Love Languages
Someone who experiences anxious attachment is more likely to fear rejection and abandonment and is dependent on others to validate emotions. Individuals with this attachment style have most likely endured caregivers who were not attuned to their needs as a child. Throughout the stages of development, this individual is likely to notice that they experience needy tendencies toward those who express affection toward them. They may be sensitive to criticism and tend to be made easily jealous. Although this seems to make it challenging to understand how someone with an anxious attachment style has a preferred love language, it would be a good guess to say that it could be quality time due to feelings of doubt and finding it difficult to be alone. Someone with an anxious-preoccupied attachment might enjoy providing and receiving quality time as these individuals desire more emotional intimacy in order to diminish any worries and doubts they have about their relationship.
Disorganized Attachment and Love Languages
When looking at someone with a disorganized attachment it is highly likely that they experienced some form of childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect as this style tends to be a direct result of it. In this situation, caregivers express inconsistent behaviors that make the child feel disorganized feelings of comfort and fear. Some signs of disorganized attachment could include anxiety, conflicting emotions, and an inability to regulate emotions. Exploring which love language best resonates with this attachment style can be tricky. One day the individual may not appreciate or tolerate any given affection and in turn cannot provide it to their partner, and then seemingly require the attention the next day.
Going forward, learning how to not allow insecure attachment styles to hinder romantic relationships can be a challenging task. Sometimes, the best way to start is through acknowledging how they impact you as an individual outside of relationships and love languages. You could ask yourself: “How do I notice myself reacting to reading about attachment styles and where they derive from?”, or “Is there one set of attachment styles that resonates with me more from the basis of a caregiver relationship?”. By first disconnecting attachment styles by exploring them through an individualistic lens it could garner you the knowledge of how they impact expressing affection and receiving it in romantic relationships.
If you feel as though you might need more clarity on some of these things feel free to book an appointment with one of our therapists at Relationship Matters Therapy Centre! You can easily book online or give us a call at 226-894-4112.
Chapman, G. (1992). The 5 Love Languages, the secret to love that lasts. (2010 ed.). Chicago, Il.: Northfield Publishing
Mandriota, M. (2021, October 14). 4 types of attachment: What's your style? Psych Central. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://psychcentral.com/health/4-attachment-styles-in-relationships#whats-next
Taylor, K. (2022, December 7). Attachment style vs. love languages: What's more important? The Other Half. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://theotherhalf.bond-touch.com/whats-more-important-your-attachment-style-or-your-love-language/