Dating as a single parent can feel like a minefield, and if you have been out of the game for a while, it might feel like the landscape has changed. But while some things are more complex than they used to be, others have made things simpler. Knowing yourself and what you’re looking for is a great first step in successful dating, and understanding your attachment style can be key to building healthy relationships. Attachment theory suggests that our early experiences with caregivers shape our expectations and behaviours in adult relationships.
There are four main attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. Let’s explore what each of these mean.
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People with a secure attachment style tend to have a positive view of themselves and their partners. They are comfortable with intimacy and able to effectively communicate their needs and boundaries. Those with a secure attachment style tend to make the best partners, so look out for these qualities! In the context of single parent dating, a secure attachment style can provide a strong foundation for building a healthy and supportive relationship. Single parents with a secure attachment style are likely to be able to balance their parental responsibilities with their dating life and are generally able to provide a secure and stable environment for their children, too.
People with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style often seek high levels of intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from their partners. They may worry about their partner's availability and fear rejection. In the context of single parent dating, an anxious-preoccupied attachment style may manifest as a heightened need for reassurance and constant communication. Single parents with this attachment style may benefit from being mindful of their own needs and seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist to manage their anxiety and maintain a healthy balance between their dating life and their parental responsibilities.
Individuals with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style tend to value independence and self-reliance. They may avoid intimacy and emotional closeness and may have difficulty expressing their emotions. This is one to be aware of in yourself if you’re a single parent, as solo caregivers can become hyper-independent. In the context of single parent dating, a dismissive-avoidant attachment style may manifest as a reluctance to fully commit to a relationship or a tendency to prioritise their own needs over their partner's.
People with a fearful-avoidant attachment style may have a combination of both anxious and avoidant tendencies. They tend to desire closeness and intimacy but fear rejection and therefore may struggle to trust others. In the context of single parent dating, a fearful-avoidant attachment style may manifest as a reluctance to fully commit to a relationship or a tendency to push people away out of fear of being hurt. Single parents with this attachment style may benefit from seeking support from a therapist to work through their fears and develop more secure and healthy relationship patterns.
It's important to note that attachment styles are not set in stone and can be influenced by our experiences and relationships over time. You can work with a therapist to feel more secure if you’re struggling to be open to a relationship. Developing a secure attachment style is possible with self-awareness, reflection, and a willingness to seek support when needed.
If you’re new to dating as a single parent, you may benefit from taking the time to understand your own attachment style and how it may impact your relationships, as well as being mindful of the attachment styles of potential partners. Building healthy and fulfilling relationships as a single parent is possible with self-awareness, communication, and a willingness to grow and learn from our experiences.
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