But those who are most at risk for mistaking manipulation and control for strength and love are those daughters whose emotional needs weren’t met in childhood. Attachment theory deems these individuals insecurely attached, further breaking down insecure attachment into three distinct style patterns: anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.
Attachment theory doesn’t just address relational patterns; it also reflects an individual’s ability to manage and self-regulate negative emotions, an important point when it comes to assessing the ability not just to love another person, but also to thrive in a relationship, weathering the inevitable disagreements, fallouts, and ups-and-downs.
Humans are hardwired to need love, but learn about it secondhand.
Infants who are fed, hydrated, and sheltered, but who are deprived of face-to-face interaction and touch fail to thrive and can, in fact, die. That gives you a pretty clear sense of how important attention and attunement — or, simply, love and caring — are to our species. Our mammalian relative, the monkey, is less likely to die deprived in this way, although her brain and neural systems are forever altered. As the authors of the brilliant book A General Theory of Love write (and I quote this whenever I can, because it shouldn’t be paraphrased): “The lack of an attuned mother is a non-event for a reptile and a shattering injury to the complex and fragile limbic brain of a mammal.”