The Importance of Secure Attachment in Non-Monogamous Relationships

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 is characterized by a comfortable balance between intimacy and independence. It’s often 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. Others may foster feelings of abandonment, constantly seeking reassurance from their partner. This leads them to struggle to establish close relationships throughout their lives. 

Attachment Styles and the Queer Community 

The queer community faces unique obstacles to overcome across many facets of life. Queer people often experience rejection, discrimination, and shame, which may significantly influence the development of insecure or avoidant attachment styles.

It is important to understand the potential impact 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, or fulfill certain needs. According to an article by Them, about 30% of gay men are in open relationships. Other studies suggest that the percentage may be higher.

Impacts of Attachment Style on Non-Monogamous Relationships in the Queer Community

Non-monogamy can be fulfilling when all partners have or nurture 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 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. This can be achieved through regular and open communication, emotional support, and a shared understanding of each other’s needs and boundaries. Additionally, couples work on managing any jealousy or insecurity that may arise. They develop trust and a shared understanding of what non-monogamy means in their relationship.

Can Attachment Styles Change Over Time?

Absolutely! A person with avoidant or anxious attachment patterns can work towards achieving a greater level of security. This means non-monogamous couples can build security before or during the process of opening their relationship.

For this to work, individuals must understand their attachment styles, where troublesome behaviors or patterns originate from, and how they impact the present. Additionally, individuals can also improve their ability to regulate emotions, increase awareness, and manage attachment-related fears.

Working with a therapist who understands attachment theory and queer and open relationships can help you overcome these—and other—obstacles faced in any relationship structure. 


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