the way we were?
The way we hold onto feelings about our past flames, according to the results of a recent study published in The Journal of Social Psychology, may depend heavily on our attachment styles, or the ways we relate to and bond with others in our closest relationships. Psychologists have identified four attachment styles, ranging from those who are more secure, experiencing less anxiety and avoidance, to those who lean toward anxiety and avoidance.
A team of New Zealand researchers helmed by Matthew T. Crawford set out to test how these attachment styles affect relationship memories. They asked 200 participants to recall happy and sad moments in a series of life experiences, including in their present and past relationships. They also used surveys to assess participants’ attachment styles and the emotional impact of their recollections. In their paper, the authors report that those who were more anxious or less avoidant in their attachment remembered relationship events as more significant and emotional than those who were less anxious or more avoidant. They conclude that those who suffer from anxiety may have a more difficult time releasing their emotions, while others, more prone to avoidant behavior, may attempt to shove those emotions aside.
The researchers show that understanding how attachment styles shape our memories may influence how we cope with relationship problems and maintain our mental well-being. Anxious attachment style folks may benefit from initiatives that assist them in coping with negative emotions and lessen perceived threats (such as rejection) in their relationships. Those who are more avoidant, on the other hand, may benefit from psychological interventions that help them enhance positive emotions and increase intimacy with or dependence on their partners. By gaining a deeper understanding of your attachment style and its effects on your emotional responses, it seems, you can begin to let go of the past.