Attachment Styles and Dating Comprehensive Guide

Attachment Styles and Dating-Interview with Coach Jerica

Feel Like a Muse (even if your guy isn't a poet)

Attachment Styles and Dating

It's essential to understand attachment styles and dating if you are looking for love. We can prevent much misery just by having an awareness about attachment styles. If we understand our attachment style and how to recognize a potential partner's attachment, we can be much more successful at dating.

I was so honored to take part in this interview with the Coach Jerica on this topic. I hope you enjoy.

Jerica: Welcome to all you lovers out there, I'm Jerica Jack, love and dating coach for women, and today we have a very special treat. We are inviting and interviewing another dating expert today. You have a double trouble? I'm very excited to announce Dalila Jusic-LaBerge.

She is a dating and relationship expert who helps busy women stop over analyzing and enjoy love, dating and relationships. Welcome!

I'm interviewing Dalila about attachment styles, and I'm really excited to interview her about this because this is something I don't really talk about very much.

I know that this will be really exciting for my viewers to hear all the ins and outs about attachment styles. To get started, Dalila, can you tell us what does this even mean?

What are attachment styles?

Dalila: Well, it's something that we adopted from clinical world. Many therapists talk about attachment styles and it's basically bond with a primary caregiver very early on.

We are mammals, and we tend to attach to our caregivers. And that helps us survive because our caregivers attach to us. And then, they take upon themselves this long journey of helping this little baby survive for the rest of their life.

You Adopt Various Limiting Beliefs so You Can Manage Maintaining the Relationship With Caretakers

And where do our attachment styles come into play is, it's how we manage to maintain the relationship with our caregiver. Basically, you, as a baby, create beliefs about how you need to be in this world so that your mom or dad will love you.

So there are various limiting beliefs that we develop, during this period. We each have different ways in which we formulate these limiting beliefs about ourselves, about the world, about love, about relationships.

Some of us think we are not good enough to be loved, while some think, we can rely on ourselves only. Perhaps we learn that we are too much to be loved the way we are, while others may think they are not enough.

Based on our upbringing and the limiting beliefs we develop about ourselves, we wind up with our attachment styles. These attachment styles affect us not only in romantic relationships but also in the ways in which we operate in the world.

How do we develop anxious attachment style?

Beliefs that we develop aren't necessarily true. We just develop these limiting beliefs based on how our caretakers treat us. For instance, some of us think if we don't cry and scream, nobody will hear us, so we feel we need to overfunction in relationships.

We also learn that our needs are too much for others, so we feel ashamed simply for wanting love and affection that was supposed to be given to us when we needed it.

The little baby learned that she needs to be on top of it, "If I don't scream, if I don't yell, if I don't, cry myself to sleep, nobody will take care of me." You know how babies get angry. They cry until exhaustion. Often, parents of anxious children are not attuned to them. There is inconsistency in meeting the child's needs.

You wind up yearning for love while not believing that it's possible. You are ashamed to express your needs, but you hope that you will find love and he will love you just the way you need.

Many people with anxious attachment style wind up overfunctioning in relationships. They work so hard to preserve a relationship even when they are not happy in it.

So it's like that's how you develop this anxious attachment style.

How do we develop avoidant attachment style?

And then there is avoidant attachment style where you learn very early on that it's not OK to show your emotions, or that you're going to be accepted if you are strong and you kind of learn to rely on yourself. Perhaps your caretakers were dismissive and they didn't provide emotional support when you needed.

You develop a belief that you can rely only on yourself and you don't seek emotional closeness as an adult.

How do we develop disorganized attachment style?

There is one more insecure attachment style, which is a mix of anxious and avoidant. They call it disorganized. I don't like that word. It's kind of pathologizing, but it's basically a mix between anxious and avoidant. So, you know, some of us may be kind of both wanting that relationship and closeness while also freaking out and pulling away when we get it.

People who develop this attachment style experienced parents that were abusive and inconsistent. As children, these people relied on their parents for meeting their needs while they were fearing them at the same time. They never knew how their parents would react.

Naturally, as they grew up, without understanding how relationships work. They become fearful of them. The other name for this attachment style is fearful-avoidant.

How do we develop a secure attachment style?

Of course, there is a secure attachment style, which is when, you know, it develops when the baby gets positive reinforcement from parents and when her needs are met.

When you cry, you know there is somebody who tends to you and it's that relationship where you as a child don't get that sense that you need to perform in certain ways to please your parents. Basically, your needs are met, as a newborn and toddler and so on.

Are there any differences between males and females?

Jerica: And what I know a little bit about these attachment styles, not a ton, but kind of the impression I got was that a lot of women tend to be anxious and a lot of men tend to be avoidant.

Do you find this to be true? And if so, why do you think this would be?

Secure Attachment Is Equally Distributed

Dalila: Well, first of all, there is no difference between males and females in terms of secure attachment. They're equally distributed in terms of statistics.

Insecure Attachment Types Seem to Be Culturally Determined

And in terms of insecure attachment, studies show that anxious and avoidant attachments are equally distributed amongst infants and young children.

And that's not the case when it comes to early childhood and infancy. But later, as life continues, we see more women displaying anxious attachment style in questionnaires. We also observe more males report being avoidantly attached. And obviously we know that women are raised to be more in tune and caring.

Not that men are not caring. I don't want anyone to misunderstand me. In our culture we raise men to not share and nurture emotional expressions. We expect men and women to present themselves differently in the world. And that's the reason why we think more women self report as anxiously attached and men that are avoidantly attached.

And furthermore, research shows that men who are anxiously attached are the least successful in relationships. The same is for avoidantly attached women. So obviously, there is some kind of cultural reward system to raise us this way, to present these differences between sexes.

Attachment Style and Dating

Jerica: I'm really curious to find out how this plays out in dating or in meeting men. So if I know I'm anxiously attached, then what should I do? Should I do something different in dating? And if so, what? And how would I know if I'm looking for a man who is a certain way? How would I know what style he is?

Are you left with insecurely attached prospects?

Let me start with a bit of grim statistics. The fact is that all those lovely people that are securely attached found each other during high school. Those high school sweethearts found each other a long time ago, and they stayed together.

They are raising children and grandchildren together and celebrating 50-year anniversaries. So, when you date a little older, 30 and up, it's quite likely that your choices will be limited to fewer people with secure attachment. But don't let that make you feel bad because you can still have a happy, lasting relationship.

If you have an insecure attachment style, it's not all grim. You shouldn't take it as something horrible. There are so many positive aspects of both attachment styles. Avoidant people are self-reliant. Anxiously attached people have a very keen observation about potential danger.

In addition, many anxiously attached people are also self-reliant. Their attachment style becomes activated when they start a relationship.

When does your attachment style get activated?

Most of my clients report that problems start when they grow attached to the guy they are dating. Often I hear these words, "I was living this wonderful life and I'm so happy. I have so many friends, and my work is going so well. When I met him it's been great for the first two months, then he started withdrawing. It makes me feel so confused and frustrated."

Notice what happened. This person triggered your anxious attachment style. Most likely he is avoidant. You become so worried about the relationship. It consumes you.

What's the biggest mistake women make?

Many women mobilize to figure out how they can make this relationship work, how they can make this partner love them in the way they need to be loved. And the problem with that approach is that you don't pause and wonder, "Does this work for me? How does he meet my needs?"

It's more about, "Will he like me? Am I enough? Should I text him or not? If I text him, will he think I'm too needy?" Just a lot of overthinking. And then when your needs are not met, you'll freak out and become angry.

It's understandable. You put so much into it and you don't receive back what you expect to get. It's so frustrating and you wonder what's wrong with you. You feel confused and have no idea what to do and why is this happening.

Focusing on wondering what's wrong with you is one of the biggest mistakes women do. You rely on your negative self-esteem, self criticism, and a need to please others dictate your responses.

Many women don't pause to observe where he's coming from, does he fit into what they need. You forgot your needs in this whole story.

One thing to remember that will help you keep the right attitude

Many women fall too hard and attach too quickly when dating. Others feel obliged to make their partner happy and struggle to set adequate boundaries in fear of hurting someone. Remember, one thing, dating isn't a relationship.

So, don't treat it as a relationship. Don't have too high expectations from someone who hasn't shown you what you want. Similarly, if you are one with avoidant style, you owe nothing to anyone until you feel safe to give your heart.

Prescriptions for Dating Properly to Mitigate Attachment Insecurities

Date More People

As you are not in a relationship, I recommend to my clients to date more than one person. In other words, meet them, get to know them, become curious about them, and just enjoy that time as if you are going out with the friends.

Focus on Friendship

You know, that friendship is very important in a relationship. Here is a question. Can you two enjoy a long ride across the state or across the country with just music? So just imagine being with that person in a situation that's not this wonderful date or Disneyland level of excitement that we see in the movies or in shows such as The Bachelor.

In this show, they put the contestants in these fabulous situations with so much excitement. Then, when people move on off the show, the reality hits.

Real life is more like riding across the country together. There can be some fun pats, there can be some beautiful vistas, and then there can be some difficulties. Your tire may blow up, you may encounter the traffic, etc. How do you two enjoy that ride? Do you feel comfortable being quiet together without too much outside stimuli?

So you have to have that friendship and at the beginning. I recommend just see if it works for you. How does that friendship work?

Don't Think "Chemistry" Is Everything

And don't allow yourself to think, "Oh my God, He doesn't turn me on," from the very beginning. The fact is that if you have and anxious attachment, there is a big chance that you consider excitement to be the emotional roller coaster of ups and downs.

You may find yourself joyful, 'Oh, my God. He texted me,” or you may drop down in despair that you haven’t heard from him for a while. It’s like cocaine addiction. You get dopamine rush and then you plummet to a despair you haven’s seen yet.

Relationship or Dating Coaching Can Help You Make Mindful Decisions Instead Decisions Based on Your Fears, Limiting Beliefs, Attachment Style  

Jerica: So I can really resonate with so much of what you're talking about there. And one of the things that I see you talking about on Instagram that I talk about a lot, too, is how people want to go from meeting the person to relationship.

They actually don't want to do the whole dating part, which I understand because apart from the attachment styles, it does provoke a lot of anxiety just because it's unsure. You don't know where you stand with him.

You don't know what you think of him. Although you're right, a lot of times women aren't even thinking about what they think of him. They're thinking about what he thinks of them.

But I think that's why it's so important and valuable to have a coach, someone like me or you, to guide you through this process, not only. Dating is so important because you're literally interviewing someone to be the co-captain of your life.

And most people are just kind of winging it, and they are in a lot of confusion, doubt and anguish.They could really use a hand. But let's go ahead and go to the next question here.

I'm assuming you can do a test somewhere online and they find out that there is a specific attachment style. How would they use that knowledge to maybe change what they're doing in a relationship or change how they're showing up in a relationship?

A Coach Helps You Unlearn Tendencies Based on Your Limiting Beliefs

Well, it's a beautiful question. First of all, I want to briefly go back to what you're saying about a coach. It's it's so true what you're saying, because nobody teaches us the way of being in relationships. Everybody teaches us just how to be a good girl, how to accomplish things, how to go after our goals.

So our goal becomes this yearning to make ourselves acceptable. We strive, "Oh, my God, I need to make this person into me." You forget the desire to be seen, to be loved for who you are.

While you're craving unconditional love, you're working completely against it because that's your procedure. It's your neurological procedural tendency to be this high achieving person, to prove yourself. So many modern successful women are so raised to please others and to prove ourselves to them to make ourselves feel worthy.

It's just natural that the resentment comes. You try so hard, and you don't get the love you crave. You may wonder, "What the heck is wrong with me?" Your confidence plummets down. So I absolutely agree that coaching can help you.

How can knowing your attachment style help you?

I think people know with or without tests. You know when someone makes you feel anxious and feel that you need to propel the relationship if you have an anxious attachment. Also, when you know when you feel a desire to disengage and have more space for yourself when you are involved with someone if you have avoidant style.

Similarly, when you feel happy and safe with a person, you have a secure attachment style.

But I want to throw you a curveball. The fact is that you can be anxiously attached with one person and you can be securely attached with another.

Observe How It Feels to Be With Someone

So, it's essential to observe how each person triggers you. Going back into your body and figuring out how you feel about being with this person will help.

Ask yourself, "How does being with this person make me feel?" I already mentioned this roller coaster that causes you to go up and down. It shouldn't be that roller coaster. You shouldn't be like a puppy dog, so eager to please and make this work out. Many can relate to feeling frazzled, “Oh, my God. He called me.” or “Oh, I don’t know where I stand with him.” 

Instead, you should feel appreciation, liking, and slowly and steadily growing excitement.

How to Use Your Feelings in Managing Your Relationship

You understand by now how important it is to focus on yourself and observe your emotions instead of trying to make yourself likeable. Now, it's also important to understand that most of your anxious emotions are rooted in the past

Remember, you have anxieties that came before this guy or your partner who is currently triggering you. So just pause and think about why you are being triggered. Ask yourself, "What am I feeling? What is he doing? So he's just not calling me. Is that a reason to attack him?" It's not his duty.

You just met him a couple of weeks ago. Don't lash out on him, when your frustration is based on your limiting belief that you are not worthy of his love just because he didn't call you.

Now you can express how you feel. "When you don't call me for three days, it's a turnoff." This appeals to male egos. They love to be liked. Or if you are closer to him, "It makes me feel abandoned, I don't know, I just feel insecure somehow.  I'm not sure if I can keep investing my emotions into this relationship if you don't call me regularly."

Just put it out there, and this is speaking your truth without attacking him because it's not his duty to know your needs. In my course Self-Love Revolution: Express Your Feelings and Capture His Heart, I teach you how to communicate with men in the ways that will make them feel empowered to be your hero instead of evading communication with you.

Now when you tell him, see what he does with that? Is he going to run for the hills? Maybe he doesn't want any emotional attachment. Maybe he's just here for casual relationships. And that's fine. Then you can have mutual respect for each other.

How do you gain a secure attachment?

Jerica: I really loved what you said here. A couple of things stood out for me. One was you can have different attachment styles with different people. This makes me feel a little bit relieved, like it's not as set in stone as maybe what we might think.

And then I also really loved how you said to think about how you feel when you're with him. I also talk about that a lot.  And then the other thing that you mentioned that I also really agree with is observing his behaviors.  

Both Dalila and I have emphasized dating is not a relationship. Dating is a separate process. And I like to talk about carefully selecting that man, not just meeting someone and then suddenly being in a relationship, but going through different moments with him at the beginning and then observing how he responds to different things that you say.

So if someone realizes that they have an insecure attachment, what can they do? Should she work on that on her own? Obviously it sounds like it is changeable or depends on who you're with. Tell us a bit about how we can change our attachment style.

Understand your attraction to other people with insecure attachment

As I already mentioned, if you have anxious attachment, you will most likely attract and feel attraction towards partners with avoidant attachment. Does this mean we are doomed to failure?

Absolutely not. You can have a great relationship if both of you are somewhat aware and if you both are working on yourselves. You can have a mutually healing relationship. And within a few years, you both can have that secure attachment.

Know how it feels to have a secure attachment

Secure attachment feels wonderful. You are confident that your partner loves you; you feel secure when he's across on another continent, and you know he's thinking of you. He shows you what you need to see. No worries about the relationship plague you. You can focus on pursuit of happiness and success in other aspects of your life.

Learn to express your needs and set your boundaries

This is essential for a success in a relationship. If you have an insecure attachment style, you will struggle with this. Anxiously attached people are ashamed of their needs for emotional closeness, so they wind up pretending that they are not needy while they try so hard to make the relationship work.

Avoidantly attached people find themselves afraid to love because they are not confident that they can set their boundaries and express their needs for seclusion.

So if you want to give yourself a chance of love, you have to work on expressing your needs and boundaries. This task becomes easier if you are aware of your emotions. That's when you can express yourself in the ways that will inspire and empower your partner instead of making him feel attacked.

Anxiously attached people often accept societal gaslighting and internalize that they are needy, clingy, and so on.

No, you are not needy. You just want a long and deep emotional connection. That's a beautiful thing. There are men that would be so happy to know that. Avoidant people want love, but they're so afraid of it. And if you present that as something that you want but you are not putting the burden on them, making them feel they need to figure it out, they will chill out.

You heal each other by expressing your emotions without putting a burden on your partner

When you express your feelings, you honor your partner. You show him he matters to you. Remember, we talked about what to say when he doesn't call you. You can say, "Hey, when you don't call me, I just feel a little upset? I know you didn't mean to do it, but I feel insecure because of my past"

He will think, "Oh, she likes me to call her, but she is not so bent out of shape about it. Cool! I don't want to upset her. I kind of like her." And then, he will try to reassure you. And that's how you both grow together to have that secure attachment.

You reassured him you will not burden him, and he is reassuring you he cares and that he cares to hear about your feelings. Now, how cool is that? Gradually, you two can be on the path to that secure attachment, or a happy, lasting relationship.

Where can you find more about Jerica and Dalila

Jerica: I love how we ended on a beautiful note.

So, Dalila and I met over Instagram and one of the things that attracted me to your profile besides the things you were saying and the fact that we're very much aligned in a lot of our beliefs was your beautiful accent. So for those of you who aren't already on Instagram, what are you doing?

That's where the party is. You can find me at outlets, Coach Jerica, and you can find Dalila at @BhnRelationships. And yeah. So come join us on Instagram, especially the stories. If you don't know Instagram, that's the little circles up on top. That's where all the fun is.

This has just been so much of value and I know my viewers are going to really love this because I've never talked about attachment styles and you really were able to explain the ins and outs.

And I love how also it just ended on this positive, beautiful note. And so thank you so much for joining.

If you want to learn how communicate with your partner in the ways that will make him want to be your hero, you are in luck because I created a course just for that. Self-Love Revolution-Express Your Feelings and Capture His Heart course will help you learn how to process your emotions and communicate with your partner in the ways that will deepen your bond.

Learn how to express your needs and boundaries in the ways that will make your partner feel empowered to make you happy and protect you instead of making him defensive. Your emotions are the key. Once you become aware of them, you can communicate much more effectively.

Learn How to Understand Your Emotions and  Communicate Your Needs 

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I'm dedicated to guiding women from feeling confused and frustrated to feeling competent and joyful when it comes to matters of love and romance.