Attachment Styles and Relationships
Updated: Mar 20
What are Attachment Styles?
Have you ever wondered why certain people are very affectionate in their relationships while others are closed-off? How about why certain people tend to be very emotional while others are far less expressive? It might be because of their attachment style.
We all have an attachment style. It is believed that these attachment styles developed during our early childhood and mirror the dynamic that we had as a child between ourselves and our caretakers. As adults we still carry remnants of this dynamic with us.
An attachment style is just an individual’s way of relating to others. There are four types, and they consist of three insecure attachment styles and one secure attachment style: anxious/preoccupied, avoidant/dismissive, disorganized/fearful-avoidant, and lastly secure/autonomous.
Anxious | Preoccupied
Individuals with this attachment style seek intimacy, support, and approval from their partners. What holds them back is their high levels of worry, anxiety, and impulsiveness. Individuals with this attachment style place a lot of value and importance on their relationships. However, they are burdened by their own feelings of inadequacy. They rely on their partner for reassurance and may even be overly dependent on them.
Avoidant | Dismissive
Individuals with this attachment style do not seek relationships in general. They are like “lone wolves” or loners, because the individual does not place value in relationships or even emotions. They are very dismissive of their feelings. Due to this, there is often a lot of emotional distance between the individual and their partner. They are prone to isolating themselves and do not like to approach conflicts or stressful situations.
Disorganized | Fearful-Avoidant
Individuals with this attachment style seek relationships, but do not want to get too close. It is because of their lack of understanding of self that stops them from being able to open up to their partner and form a more solid connection. They are likely to have some form of trauma that withholds them from being able to the next step in bridging the gap and connecting emotionally.
Secure | Autonomous
Individuals with this attachment style enjoy relationships, love being close, and depending on others. They have no problem trusting, being empathetic, or forgiving others. They are able to accept their partner needing separation without feeling rejected. They are very balanced as they are secure in their independence as well as their close relationship.
How Therapy Can Help
The optimal attachment style is a secure/autonomous attachment. Luckily, attachment styles are not forever and can be worked on. Going to a therapist is one such method to adapt a new attachment style. Working through trauma or further examining yourself might help dispel your disorganized/fearful-avoidant style. Perhaps you need to practice acknowledging your feelings more and voicing your emotions. Maybe you need develop a plan to address stressors in your life in order to move past your avoidant/dismissive attachment style. What if all you needed was to realize and believe that you are adequate and don’t need to really on others to stand firm in your worth? That can help you work out of your anxious/preoccupied attachment style. Your therapist can partner with you on this journey to a secure/autonomous attachment in your relationships.
Attachment styles that were developed in our early childhood were created as a means for our personal safety, and comfort. We wanted our caregivers to give us the love, affection, attention we needed as children. Perhaps growing up that wasn’t our experience, but that doesn’t mean we need to limit ourselves in our relationships. We are all enough to love and be loved. We all deserve to experience a strong and healthy relationship, whether romantic or otherwise.