Good friends are precious and worth treasuring. Making friends as an adult is challenging for some; it can seem difficult as an adult to reach out and make new friends. People sometimes lament that they have no friends or cannot seem to make or keep friends. It is possible that there may be more at play here, than aging. The early relationship people have with their parents or caregivers may predict their ability to relate to others as an adult. If they were lucky, they were securely bonded to a parent or caregiver. This occurs when the parent is a supporter and in tune with their child’s emotions. The secure attachment style tends to lead to confidence and good social skills as an adult.
The emotional bond formed between the primary caregiver and baby is called attachment. There are several styles of attachment, but the basic difference is between a secure and insecure attachment. The type of emotional bond formed has a profound influence on the structure and functioning of the child’s brain.
If you find that you tend to have empathy for others and yourself and that you are able to set healthy boundaries and create healthy relationships. It is probable that your caregiver was available, predictable and had healthy boundaries.
If you find that you tend to avoid closeness or emotional connection with others, feel distant, critical, intolerant or find yourself being very rigid about how you want things done. It is possible that a parent or caregiver was either rejecting or unavailable.
If you are charming, yet feel insecure and anxious; find yourself blaming others, behaving impulsively or erratically. Your parent or caregiver was probably pushy, interfering and unpredictable.
If you are untrusting, insensitive, abusive or you have an explosive temper or chaotic behavior. It is possible that your parent’s or caregiver’s behavior was terrifying or traumatizing.
Whether the failure to attach is caused by unavailability, neglect or abuse; developmental or relational trauma can result. These traumas early in life contribute to a lack of self-esteem and social awareness. Physical health and ability to learn can also be affected.
When there is a secure attachment, the result is the ability to form healthy, pleasurable, even joyful relationships. If the attachment bond is insecure, adult relationships can be haunted by the underlying negative expectations of intimacy.
The good news is that it is possible to earn or learn secure attachment. The awareness of how your early life may be impacting your relationships creates the opportunity for choice. Finding a partner or mentor who is secure can contribute to emotional healing. It is possible to find healthier ways to deal with pain and trauma from the past. Working through issues rather than hiding from them can help release you from the triggers that overwhelm your emotions. The most important element for healing is a lasting healthy relationship with a friend, partner or therapist. These types of relationship help you learn to trust and help give you the encouragement and strength to break the cycle of neglect or abuse often caused by insecure attachment.