“I had a weak father, domineering mother, contemptuous teachers, sadistic sergeants, destructive male friendships, esmasculating girlfriends, a wonderful wife, and three terrific children.  Where did I go right?”

Jules Feiffer, cartoonist and writer (and below)

The lessons of attachment help us heal adult relationships

The powerful, life-altering lessons we learn from our attachment bond—our first love relationship—continue to teach us as adults. The gut-level knowledge we gained then guides us in improving our adult relationships and making them secure.

Lesson No. 1—adult relationships depend for their success on nonverbal forms of communication. Newborn infants cannot talk, reason or plan, yet they are equipped to make sure their needs are met. Infants don’t know what they need, they feel what they need, and communicate accordingly. When an infant communicates with a caretaker who understands and meets their physical and emotional needs, something wonderful occurs.

Relationships in which the parties are tuned in to each other’s emotions are called attuned relationships, and attuned relationships teach us that:

  • nonverbal cues deeply impact our love relationships
  • play helps us smooth over the rough spots in love relationships
  • conflicts can build trust if we approach them without fear or a need to punish

When we can recognize knee-jerk memories, expectations, attitudes, assumptions and behaviors as problems resulting from insecure attachment bonds, we can end their influence on our adult relationships. That recognition allows us to reconstruct the healthy nonverbal communication skills that produce an attuned attachment and successful relationships.

Attachment Style Parental Style Resulting Adult Characteristics
Secure Aligned with the child; in tune with the child’s emotions Able to create meaningful relationships; empathetic; able to set appropriate boundaries
Avoidant Unavailable or rejecting Avoids closeness or emotional connection; distant; critical; rigid; intolerant
Ambivalent Inconsistent and sometimes intrusive parent communication Anxious and insecure; controlling; blaming; erratic; unpredictable; sometimes charming
Disorganized Ignored or didn’t see child’s needs; parental behavior was frightening/traumatizing Chaotic; insensitive; explosive; abusive; untrusting even while craving security
Reactive Extremely unattached or malfunctioning Cannot establish positive relationships; often misdiagnosed


All from: http://helpguide.org/mental/eqa_attachment_bond.htm