Attachment theory is a framework used to examine an individual’s patterns and behaviors in human relationships. Attachment suggests that early childhood relationships with caregivers shape an individual’s romantic attachment style later in life. In this post, we will delve into how secure attachment can be developed in queer relationships, particularly with non-monogamous couples.
What are the Types of Attachment?
Secure attachment, characterized by a comfortable balance between intimacy and independence, is associated with higher relationship satisfaction and stability.
Individuals with an insecure, avoidant, or anxious attachment style may experience certain relationship challenges, such as a fear of intimacy, leading them to struggle to establish close relationships throughout their lives. Others may foster feelings of abandonment, constantly seeking reassurance from their partner.
Attachment Styles and the Queer Community
The queer community faces unique obstacles to overcome across many facets of life. It is not uncommon for queer people to have experienced rejection, discrimination, and shame, which may significantly influence the development of insecure or avoidant attachment styles.
It is important to understand the potential impacts of attachment style—especially when becoming involved in non-monogamous relationships. Unlike “traditional” monogamy, non-monogamous relationships allow for partners to have multiple romantic or sexual partners.
Many couples open their relationship to strengthen connections, explore varied interests, and fulfill certain needs. According to an article from Them, about 30% of gay men are in open relationships, with other studies suggesting that the percentage may be higher.
Impacts of Attachment Style on Non-Monogamous Relationships in the Queer Community
Non-monogamy is a valid relationship path that can be very fulfilling when all involved tend toward a secure attachment style. However, opening a relationship may be challenging for individuals possessing insecure or avoidant attachment styles. Feelings of jealousy, insecurity, anxiety, or lack of communication can create instability that will undoubtedly impact the relationship.
For couples who choose to open their relationship, working toward establishing a secure attachment with each other can greatly improve satisfaction and stability, which can be achieved through regular and open communication, emotional support, and a shared understanding of each other’s needs and boundaries. Additionally, couples can work on managing any jealousy or insecurity that may arise and developing trust and a shared understanding of what non-monogamy means for their relationship.
Can Attachment Styles Change Over Time?
Absolutely! Attachment styles have the capacity to grow, change, and develop over time. A person who experiences avoidant or anxious attachment patterns can work towards achieving a greater level of security. Therefore, couples can build security before or during the process of opening their relationship.
However, to accomplish this, it is important for individuals to understand their attachment styles, where troublesome behaviors or patterns originate from, and how they are impacting the present. Additionally, individuals can improve their ability to regulate emotions, increase awareness, and manage attachment-related fears.
Working with a therapist who is knowledgeable about attachment theory and queer and open relationships can be very beneficial for overcoming these—and other—obstacles faced in relationships, whether they are monogamous or not.