Attachment Styles refer to the different ways we interact and behave in our relationships. Our Attachment Style influences how we interact with people at work and in our personal relationships.
Understanding Attachment Styles can help you better understand yourself and those in your personal and professional life. Our Attachment Styles influence how we build romantic relationships. They influence how safe we feel with our partner, how we react to stress in the relationship, the quality of our relationships, and ultimately how happy we are with ourselves.
This post will provide a general overview of the four types of Attachment Styles:
WHAT IS AN ATTACHMENT?
The concept of an Attachment is part of a theory that was created in the 1960s. One of the Attachment theory’s most influential founders, psychologist Dr. John Bowlby, described Attachments as the bonds that occur between us and those with whom we have the closest relationships. He described Attachments as
“a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”
Dr. Bowlby suggested that infants form these bonds with their caregivers in order to have their emotional and physical needs met. In the 1960s his research focused on infants and children and their relationships with their parents. Since the 1960s, further studies have expanded our knowledge about attachment and the relationships adults have with their intimate partners.
HOW DO OUR EARLY RELATIONSHIPS AFFECT OUR RELATIONSHIPS LATER AS ADULTS?
Watch the following video for an explanation:
ATTATCHMENT STYLES ARE PATTERNS RATHER THAN DIAGNOSES
Before describing the four types of Attachment Styles, it’s important to emphasize that one’s Attachment Style is not a formal psychological diagnosis, but rather a pattern of behavior.
Studies do show that certain mental health characteristics such as self-esteem, confidence, anxiety levels and others are consistent with certain types of Attachment Styles. For example, high self-esteem is usually associated with patterns consistent with a Secure Attachment Style while anxiety and depression are more closely associated with the three Insecure Attachment Styles.
A person doesn’t usually fit cleanly into one Attachment Style category or another. They may exhibit behaviors and patterns that fall into more than one type of Attachment Style. In other words, a person may show behaviors and characteristics that fall into both Insecure and Secure attachment styles.
SECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE
Let’s take a look a Secure Attachment Style. Please watch this video for a description of characteristics consistent with a Secure Attachment Style:
Anxious Attachment Style
Let’s take a look an Anxious Attachment Style. Please watch this video for a description of characteristics consistent with an Anxious Attachment Style:
AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT STYLE
Let’s take a look an Avoidant Attachment Style. Please watch this video to learn more about an Avoidant Attachment Style:
FEARFUL AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT STYLE
The final Attachment Style we’ll take a look at is the Fearful Avoidant Attachment style. It’s important to emphasize that this is the most rare of the Attachment Styles. People with this Attachment Style often exhibit the strongest characteristics of both the Anxious and Avoidant Attachment Styles. Please watch this video to learn more about a Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style:
A FEW FINAL WORDS ABOUT ATTACHMENT STYLES
Although our earliest relationships in our childhood may have influenced the kinds of relationship we have now, it’s not a perfect science. There are other factors such as genetics, injury, or experiences later that may have influenced our personalities.
In many cases, your Attachment Style may be situational. A person may be more Securely attached at work with their coworkers and their boss, but may be more Insecurely attached in their relationships at home or vice versa. There may be certain strategies you would use to become more secure at home versus at work.
HOW CAN I BECOME MORE SECURELY ATTACHED IN MY ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS?
If you or your romantic partner struggles with insecurity, studies have shown that a person can develop more Secure Attachment characteristics. Sometimes, becoming a more secure person may mean addressing other underlying or environmental causes. In many cases, people can make significant improvements in their security through self-awareness, learning about their attachment style, working with a professional therapist or doctor, and putting in some work.
Here is slide show with some strategies on how to become more Securely Attached in your romantic relationships. For more details about these strategies, see this post.
TAKE A FREE QUIZ TO FIND OUT YOUR ATTACHMENT STYLE
I recommend you take one of the free online assessments to determine your own Attachment Style patterns. Here are some links to free quizzes:
Becker-Phelps, L. (2016). Insecure in love: How anxious attachment can make you feel jealous, needy, and worried and what you can do about it. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Mikulencer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2018). Attachment in adulthood. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.