In psychology , the theory of attachment can be applied to adult relationships including friendships, emotional affairs, adult romantic relationships or platonic relationships and in some cases relationships with inanimate objects " transitional objects ". Investigators have explored the organization and the stability of mental working models that underlie these attachment styles. They have also explored how attachment impacts relationship outcomes and how attachment functions in relationship dynamics. Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby founded modern attachment theory on studies of children and their caregivers.
The process of developing healthy emotional relationships is a key factor in attaining happiness and improving quality of life. However, a significant proportion of the human population lacks the ability to connect with other individuals and form meaningful relationships. This condition is referred to as an attachment disorder. Although this condition usually develops in childhood, it can continue into adulthood if left unrecognized and unaddressed. How Do Attachment Disorders Develop? For more than 70 years, psychologists have recognized that the ability to form emotional relationships begins in early childhood.
Readers of my book on heartbreak often ask me what aspect of it had the most profound effect on me personally. My answer is always that becoming familiar with the ins and outs of attachment theory has, quite simply, changed my life. Over time, psychologists have further refined this idea to argue that early childhood attachment patterns predict adult attachment styles in romantic relationships later in life.
Attachment, or the attachment bond, is the emotional connection you formed as an infant with your primary caregiver—probably your mother. According to attachment theory , pioneered by British psychiatrist John Bowlby and American psychologist Mary Ainsworth, the quality of the bonding you experienced during this first relationship often determines how well you relate to other people and respond to intimacy throughout life. If your primary caretaker made you feel safe and understood as an infant, if they were able to respond to your cries and accurately interpret your changing physical and emotional needs, then you likely developed a successful, secure attachment.