In part I, I discussed attitude and maturity in the context of trust. Here, let’s discuss how attachment style intertwines with needs and past life experiences to affect our capacity to trust.

Attachment style

Issue of trust intimately ties to attachment style in a relationship. Psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in 50s and 60s developed a theory about how infants attach to their primary caregivers. Their theory applies to adult relationships based on the premise that early childhood conditionings unconsciously carry into adulthood.

The theory predicts that if we are brought up in a socio-psychologically safe environment, we will develop a secure attachment style. However, if we are brought up in an unsafe environment filled with fear and uncertainty, we will develop an insecure attachment style. Insecure attachment can be broken down into three distinct types: anxious/pre-occupied, dismissive/avoidant and fearful/pre-occupied:

1) Secure – easy to connect and develop close relationships.

2) Anxious/pre-occupied – strong need for connection with suspicion and anxiety.

3) Dismissive/avoidant – low need for relationships and high need for independence.

4) Fearful/pre-occupied – ambivalent feeling towards being in a relationship, but afraid to be rejected.

One important question left answered by most researches is why people develop different insecure styles of attachment despite similar negative childhood upbringing. We all know that we are born with natural dispositions and needs. Examples of depositions are introvert or extrovert personalities. Examples of needs are freedom, power, closeness, and belonging. How do we explain variation in innate dispositions and needs? Current scientific theories developed through materialistic science are largely unable to explain the origin of our natural tendencies.

I knew a woman with a twin sister. Both grew up with the same conditioning and an identical social environment. However, their tendencies towards relationships varied greatly. Her sister had multiple dating/sexual partners and was married in her early 20s, while the person I know had no serious relationships before her early 30s.

Multiple forces shape who we are

As humans, we all have some of the same needs. Yet we prioritize our needs differently due to unique past life conditionings. Here are two examples of needs that shape the type of insecure attachment style these twins developed: 1) need of closeness/belonging and 2) need of safety/trust. To the younger sister, need of closeness/belonging is more important than certainty/safety. Conversely, the older sister values certainty/safety over closeness/belonging.

If the younger sister’s need of closeness/belonging trumps other needs and if her disposition is that of a gregarious extrovert, she is a candidate to become a needy lover with an anxious/pre-occupied attachment style. Her overwhelming need of closeness/belonging prevents her from learning the mistakes she makes in relationships. It is likely that she would have a love addiction issue. However, if her need of safety/trust is just as strong as a need of closeness/belonging, then the older sister is likely to develop fearful/pre-occupied attachment style.

If the older twin values safety/trust more than other needs and if she is independent and inherently introverted, then she is a likely candidate for the dismissive/avoidant style of attachment. She will be cautious in pursuing intimate relationships. In an extreme case, she may not date at all. She will keep her distance from people whom she desires. Yet if she dates, she wants the suitors to prove their trustworthiness before commencing a full relationship.

Perhaps people with a dismissive/avoidant style attachment would fine peace if they refrain from a loving relationship. But I believe this observation may be premature. A dismissive/avoidant attachment style is a strategy to avoid pain from anxiety and fear. It does not quell the desire for romantic love and connection. Because of loneliness and emptiness, these people are more likely to develop other forms of addiction, such as to be a perfectionist, workaholic, or develop a shopping or travelling addiction.

For readers who are looking for love and a relationship, be aware of your dating candidate’s natural disposition and their coping strategies for fear and anxiety.

Further consideration:

If you accept the belief that childhood experiences can affect adult relationships, then do you also accept that our past life conditioning can affect how we respond to current life conditioning?

Can you identify your attachment style?