Attachment styles, illustrated as ghosts. To learn more about attachment styles and how the way we tend to relate to others can be plotted on a spectrum, click here.
For a brief insight into each of these ghosts and how they go about haunting, continue reading:
Preoccupied Attachment Style
Preoccupied attachment, also referred to as anxious or ambivalent attachment, is an attachment style low in relationship avoidance and high in relational anxiety.
A person with a preoccupied attachment may be drawn into relationships and desire intimacy but may have a lot of anxiety about those relationships.
This attachment style is often the result of inconsistent relationships between caregiver and child in a person’s childhood. People with preoccupied attachment styles may not have had their needs met consistently during childhood. People who grow up in homes with parents who aren’t available consistently (due to their own mental health symptoms, incarceration, illness, or even big distractions like poverty, burnout, or having many children to tend to) may develop a preoccupied attachment style. Because children look to their early relationships with adults to make meaning and set norms, inconsistency can result in a lack of understanding regarding maintaining closeness in later adult relationships.
For this anxious little ghost and other people with preoccupied attachment, there is almost a chasing of sorts. A desperate seeking to find closeness, but not knowing how to sustain that closeness in a healthy way.
Hence, the ghost friend invades personal space to be with the person they are haunting because they do not know how to haunt in a healthy way that respects the needs on both sides of the relationship.
Avoidant Attachment Style
The avoidant attachment style, also known as dismissing-avoidant attachment, has low relational anxiety and high relational avoidance. A person who has a dismissing-avoidant attachment style may have an overall low anxiety about relationships but a general avoidance of close relationships.
Individuals with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style may also tend to have better self-esteem than those with a fearful-avoidant attachment style. The dismissive-avoidant is motivated by a “why bother, why risk” avoidance of intimacy instead of a “why bother, I’m not worth it” belief motivating the fearful-avoidant style.
This attachment style may form in childhood when caregivers are physically present but emotionally absent. While they are not neglecting a child’s physical needs – clothing, food, water, shelter, etc. – they are not cultivating emotional engagement. In fact, caregivers in this attachment style may emotionally withdraw even more as a situation becomes more emotionally intense.
Think: reaching out for support or comfort from a caregiver, and the caregiver responds with a “toughen up, get over it, that’s not a big deal” response. This creates a dynamic of wanting care and comfort but avoiding reaching out for it in order to avoid disappointment.
Hence, our ghost friend who wants to haunt the person but remains in their chair simply waiting for the attention of the person they want to haunt.
Secure Attachment Style
Secure attachment is marked by low relational avoidance and low relational anxiety.
A child develops secure attachment with their caregivers when they provide a sense of safety, attunement, comfort, and support. This type of caregiver is consistent in their responses (not perfect! but tuned in and responsive most of the time), which allows a child to build a foundation for understanding relationships and balancing boundaries and closeness.
Hence, our secure attachment ghost friend who wants to haunt the person but recognizes their haunting partner is busy doing something they love and trusts that they’ll be available later.