I’m dating a robot 🤖Attachment theory & social media algorithms

Ariel Meadow Stallings
6 min readJan 18

Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about attachment theory, and how attachment issues play out in adult relationships. For those unfamiliar, here’s an excerpt from my book From Sh!tshow To Afterglow introducing the concept:

Attachment theory was first developed by Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby to describe infants’ tendencies to frantically cry, cling, and search for their caregiver if separated. In the ’80s, researchers started applying attachment theory to their studies of adult relationships. Turns out that infant-caregiver relationships and adult romantic relationships are remarkably similar, which means that many of us adults are acting out relationship patterns we learned as babies. Aww, it’s both cute and sad.
Adults usually act out one of these attachment types:

Secure: you feel confident that your partner has your back and you’re comfortable letting your partner depend on you

Anxious-preoccupied: you easily become upset when you feel your needs aren’t being met and worry that others may not entirely love you. (This is me! I’m clingy and chasey, and prone to panic)

Fearful-avoidant: you want closeness, but are so afraid you’ll get hurt that you often push people away

Dismissive-avoidant: you look aloof because you have a lot of pain associated with depending on others or being depended on

Again, this is a bit intense to dig into if you’re mid-chaos, but as you part to put your life back together, I highly learning about your attachment type. Reading the book Attached by Levine & Heller in 2017 felt like getting a magical key — suddenly I had so much more understanding and compassion for the confusing things so many of us do in our partnerships. Knowledge is power, and this particular knowledge is extremely powerful.

Ok, so basically the ways in which you related to your caregivers in childhood continue in adulthood, and influence how you relate to people in your life, especially partners — but also friends, colleagues, children, and more. It can be so liberating to be like “Why am I freaking out right now — oh shit, right: my attachment system is triggered. Gottit.”

Where it gets really crazy is when you realize that our attachment triggers don’t just affect how we relate to people in our adult lives, they also affect how we relate to objects in our lives.

Ariel Meadow Stallings

Medium's Director of Publisher Growth. Also an author, publisher, devotional dancer, and a human humanning!