Tim Brunson DCH

Welcome to The International Hypnosis Research Institute Web site. Our intention is to support and promote the further worldwide integration of comprehensive evidence-based research and clinical hypnotherapy with mainstream mental health, medicine, and coaching. We do so by disseminating, supporting, and conducting research, providing professional level education, advocating increased level of practitioner competency, and supporting the viability and success of clinical practitioners. Although currently over 80% of our membership is comprised of mental health practitioners, we fully recognize the role, support, involvement, and needs of those in the medical and coaching fields. This site is not intended as a source of medical or psychological advice. Tim Brunson, PhD

Relationship Attachment Styles (Part 3)

by Richard Yates MS, LPC, NCC, NBCFCH


Our level of satisfaction in a relationship has as much to do with our personality characteristics as the relationship itself. The "International Personality Item Pool Representation of the NEO PI-R™" or IPIP-NEO is a personality test that is available online at http://www.personal.psu.edu/j5j/IPIP/> . Personality psychologists have identified five dimensions of personality that are commonly referred to as the "Big Five", based on the "five-factor theory" of personality. These include "extraversion", "agreeableness", "conscientiousness", "neuroticism" and "openness". These traits are measured by the IPIP-NEO and they are powerful indicators of how we view and interact with others.

A person's satisfaction or dissatisfaction in a relationship depends on two factors. 1) Does the person have the potential to be satisfied? 2) Do their personality traits compliment or clash with their partner's? Though we commonly hear, "opposites attract;" couples with similar personalities are more likely to be satisfied in their relationship.


About one in four people will change their attachment style, according to Levine. Secure types are best matched with other secures. They can form relationships with anxious types and are a responsible choice for an anxious partner. Secure types add stability to a relationship with an anxious partner. Secures and avoidants do not mix. Secures usually have no interest in avoidant types and avoidants have no interest in secure types.

Anxious attachment types are more stable when paired with secures but the anxious partners often prefer the stimulating drama and passion of the emotionally unavailable avoidant types. Anxiously attached partners can make passionate and caring companions if they can control their insecurities or learn to express them in ways that do not harm their relationships. If their attachment insecurities are activated, it is a difficult task to deactivate them. This is why anxious partners should never pair with other anxious types.

Avoidants come in two basic types and include everything in between. The first are the avoidants who passively remove themselves from potential emotional pain. These simply avoid attachment to keep from being hurt or because they are uncomfortable with intimacy. Second are the aggressive opportunists who are searching for brief relationship encounters. They may enjoy a temporary encounter with intimacy, but it will be short-lived. Avoidants cannot sustain a relationship. They have either chosen not to attach or they have no ability to sustain an attachment.

Finally, the autonomous types have the ability to rationally stabilize their emotions and to control their desires while finding purpose and meaning in all situations. They can be satisfied in or out of a relationship. They have the ability to attach if they choose or to be happy alone. Autonomous people usually have a philosophy and perspective that can transcend the importance of all else. This means they are able to adjust to any and all circumstances in life and relationships. They can co-exist with all other attachment styles successfully.

In addition to being aware of the ways different people attach in relationships, it is also good to know what attracts most healthy people. Ultimately, relationships are about survival. Normal people are genetically and unconsciously hardwired to be attracted to traits in a mate that enhance survival. A key sign of superiority is independence.

Independent functioning partners are not as reliant on others for their survival and are capable of enhancing the lives of their partners. Independent people may have reached this status due to high intelligence, earned or inherited wealth, superior social success, unusual talent, physical attractiveness, aggressive dominance or any number of other factors. Where no one is completely self-reliant; as a general rule, the less dependent we are on an intimate partner, the more attractive we will be to that partner. The more dependent we are, the less attractive we will be. Levels of relationship satisfaction are associated with the secure and autonomous attachment styles. Anxious and avoidant attachment types are linked to dissatisfaction. But personality type is the best predictor of relationship satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Those with similar personalities are more likely to be satisfied in their relationships.

Richard Yates is a Licensed Counselor (LPC), National Certified Counselor and National Certified Fellow in Clinical Hypnotherapy. He has worked as a psychotherapist since 1996 and his experience spans outpatient work in community mental healthcare with the severely mentally ill, inpatient and partial patient care at a psychiatric hospital and practice at a large psychiatric outpatient practice since 1998. He has developed highly successful and innovative couples counseling techniques and strategies and has successfully integrated Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, along with other traditional approaches, with hypnotherapy.

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