I must say, Brigerton is not my normal guilty viewing pleasure type of tv show but I watched it anyways and was instantly hooked. As an attachment therapist, I’m constantly noticing the different relationship and attachment dynamics between people and this show had so much to dive into. Please note that there are lots of spoiler alerts ahead so read with caution if you haven't seen the show/haven't finished it yet.
What are attachment styles? There are multiple different attachment style types but for the sake of this article, we will be focusing on the main three categories of attachment style: Secure, Anxious and Avoidant. For the most part, our attachment style is determined by the relationship we have with our primary caregiver(s) and can even be determined as early as early toddlerhood.
Although we tend to hold onto our attachment style into our romantic relationships as an adult, this doesn’t mean that we are permanently stuck in our attachment style if we are a style that we want to change. Neuroplasticity is this amazing concept that shows that we have the ability to change certain behaviors, ways of viewing ourselves and the world around us, and our attachment style/way we relate to others even into late adulthood.
What are each of the attachment styles like?
Secure Attachment Style is the attachment style we mostly all aspire to be in life. People who are securely attached have the ability to have loving, trusting, intimate relationships with their partner and aren’t afraid to be vulnerable or express their needs or wants to their partner. Relationships and dating aren’t scary/intimidating to them. In fact, they tend to desire relationships and find a lot of safety in relationships. They’re easily able to see past people aren’t being genuine or unable to express their love and tend to not waste their time on potential partners who wouldn’t be able to maintain a healthy, loving and intimate relationship with them.
Daphne Brigerton is a great example of a character on Brigerton who has a secure attachment style. Her own parents married for love and exemplify a securely attached marriage. Daphne aspires to find a partner who she can also marry for love and isn’t afraid to express this need or want to those around her. She is attracted to The Duke and is able to see right away, in spite of his pushing away at times, that he shares the same attraction for her. Because of this, she feels confident expressing herself to The Duke and pretty much flat out demanding that they quit “the dance” and get married.
Once married, she is able to confidently express her frustrations with The Duke, noting that it isn’t fair for her that he is pushing her away. She clearly communicates her needs and wants in their relationship without feeling as though they aren’t warranted. She obviously knew that The Duke shared the same feelings towards her because, as all fans know by now, they share a lot of intimate moments together early in marriage. Once Daphne figures out that The Duke hasn’t been upfront with her about his ability to have children, Daphne once again feels confident to express herself and lets him know that this isn’t okay. She talks it over with him several times, never backing down or feeling shame in her emotions. Obviously they are able to work things out and her desire to have children is met as we all see in the sneak from the last episode.
An Avoidant Attachment Style is categorized as someone who greatly values their independence, in spite of also desiring a healthy, loving relationship. People who have this attachment style tend to push their partner away when things in the relationship get too close, too intimate, or too difficult. They struggle with vulnerability and having direct, clear communication with their partner. Usually someone who is this attachment style will get frustrated when their partner expresses their needs/wants, sometimes using the phrase “can’t we just get over it already?”. This attachment style will hold in emotions or things they find frustrating in the relationship, letting it build up or pushing their partner away instead of leaning in to their partner and intimacy.
Simon Basset, aka The Duke, more than likely has an avoidant attachment style. Simon’s own parents were not around, due in part to his mother dying at his own birth and his father neglecting him as a child, sending him away and refusing to have a relationship with him due to his stutter. In adulthood, it’s obvious that Simon has an attraction towards Daphne but also pushes her away anytime they start to get too close, exposing his difficulty with intimacy and vulnerability. Daphne is quite secure in her attachment style which ends up ultimately leading to their marriage. However, Simon starts the marriage off with lies about his infertility instead of opening up to Daphne about his past and why having children is something he’s scared about. Simon never ends up telling Daphne directly in this season about his childhood. She ends up having to find that information out herself through reading old letters and asking others who knew him as a child.
Simon truly needed someone like Daphne who is securely attached and can communicate her needs and not judge him for his past. It becomes obvious through the end of the season that Simon is already beginning to repair his own attachment style, leaning in to vulnerable conversations with Daphne and becoming that much closer to having a secure attachment style.
Those who have an Anxious Attachment Style are those who also truly desire to be in a loving, healthy relationship but also fear that their partner will abandon them once they are in a relationship. Those who identify as having this attachment style tend to feel unworthy of being in a healthy relationship at their core (usually from attachment wounds from childhood) and tend to be on high alert for their partner to suddenly leave them. They tend to be preoccupied with the relationship when they are in it and struggle when their partner isn’t around or isn’t available instantaneously. In other words, this attachment style truly wants intimacy and love but is also scared of it, sometimes almost becoming “codependent”, needing constant reassurance from their partner or settling for a partner who isn’t 100% invested in the relationship usually from a lack of self-confidence or self-worth.
Penelope Featherington would be an example of a Brigerton character who has an anxious attachment style. While she isn’t in a romantic relationship in this season, there are several clues that this is her attachment type including that her own parents’ marriage is insecurely attached and they did not marry for love. Penelope has an instant crush on Colin Brigerton and becomes pretty preoccupied with the idea of there being a possible relationship between the two of them, in spite of the fact that he’s also not 100% available nor has he indicated an interest in her at all. He is nice to her but also clearly isn’t interested in her romantically which seems to hit on all of Penelope’s anxious attachment core wounds and low self-worth.
As fans realize at the end of the show, Penelope ends up being the one behind many of the rumors that ended up making the relationship between Colin and Marina much more difficult to maintain, and ultimately causing the breakup between them. Someone who is anxiously attached to someone is more likely to sabotage another relationship when they feel as though they deserve to be with the partner more than the partner they are with. They aren’t able to see that their love interest isn’t interested in them, instead focusing on the idea that someone else “stole” them from them. Penelope struggles to let go of the idea of being with Colin which ends up taking away from the energy she could have spent towards a possible suitor who would be fully invested in a relationship for her.
Thoughts? Comments? Let me know what you think!