I know you’ve been asked this question before by someone… “So what’s your attachment style?” Attachment styles, a concept from attachment theory, has a huge influence on the way we create and maintain connections, especially in the world of romantic relationships. By breaking down the different types of attachment styles, we have the ability to gain valuable insights into our own behaviors and our partners, which in turn help us build more fulfilling connections. In this blog post, I’ll break down the 4 main attachment styles, how they develop and how they shape our relationships. I’ll also touch on practical ways to improve attachment styles for healthier dating & relationship experiences. Let’s get started!
The 4 Main Types of Attachment Styles
Anxious attached people often seek excessive reassurance from their partners. They tend to worry about their worthiness and fear abandonment, leading to clingy behavior. They crave closeness but may become overwhelmed by their emotions, which can create tension in relationships.
- For example, your parent(s) or caregiver were often preoccupied with work and other responsibilities growing up. While your basic needs were met, your parent(s) or caregiver were inconsistent in providing emotional support. Sometimes, they were loving and attentive, other times, they were distant or unavailable. This inconsistency creates anxiety in you, as you never knew what to expect.
Avoidant attached people struggle to open up emotionally and may distance themselves from their partners to avoid vulnerability. They value independence and may be uncomfortable with emotional intimacy, which can lead to challenges in forming deep connections.
- For example, your parent(s) or caregiver were emotionally distant and dismissive of your emotions as a child. When you sought out comfort or displayed vulnerability, your parent(s) or caregiver responded with indifference or criticism. Over time, you learned to suppress your emotions and became self-reliant. You prioritized independence and avoided relying on others for emotional support.
Disorganized attachment results from inconsistent or abusive early caregiving experiences. Individuals with this style may exhibit both anxious and avoidant behaviors, often feeling confused or overwhelmed in relationships. They may struggle with trust and emotional regulation.
- For example, your parent(s) or caregiver had a history of substance abuse, leading to unpredictable and chaotic behaviors in your childhood. Sometimes, your parent(s) or caregiver was affectionate and caring, but other times, they became aggressive or neglectful. You felt confused and fearful in their presence, not knowing how to respond to the unpredictable behavior.
Secure attached individuals have a positive view of themselves and their partners. They feel comfortable with both intimacy and independence, striking a balance between closeness and personal space. Securely attached individuals can rely on their partners and offer support in return, making them ideal partners in healthy relationships. This is the attachment style everyone should aim for.
- For example, your parent(s) or caregiver were loving and responsive growing up. They consistently met your needs for comfort, food & attention. When you cried, they promptly attended to you and provided emotional support. As a result, you developed a strong sense of security and trust in them. You felt safe exploring the world, knowing that your parent(s) or caregiver were always there to offer comfort and reassurance.
So, now that we broke down what each attachment style is, you might be asking yourself how the hell did I become like this!? Let’s dive a little deeper into how these attachment styles develop.
Development of Attachment Styles
Early Childhood: Like the examples discussed above, attachment styles are primarily shaped during early childhood through interactions with parent(s) or caregivers. Responsive and sensitive caregiving encourage secure attachment, while inconsistent or neglectful caregiving can lead to anxious or avoidant attachment. Traumatic experiences during childhood can contribute to the development of disorganized attachment.
Influence of Past Relationships: Past romantic experiences can influence attachment styles in adulthood. Positive relationships can reinforce secure attachment, whereas negative experiences can reinforce anxious or avoidant patterns. Looking back at my past relationships in my adult life, I was definitely the anxiously attached partner who attracted a mix of both avoidant & disorganized attached men in my romantic relationships. This is a sure fire recipe for disaster!
So, what are the impacts different attachment styles can have in our adult relationships? I’m glad you asked!
Impact of Attachment Styles in Adult Relationships
As an adult, someone who is anxiously attached may often seek reassurance and validation from a partner, with a huge fear of abandonment that can lead to self-sabotaging behaviors. This constant need can also cause a strain on their partners. They may also experience intense emotions and constant worry in relationships. You may be overly sensitive to signs of rejection and become clingy or dependent in relationships.
In adulthood, someone who is avoidant attached may struggle with intimacy and find it challenging to express their feelings to a partner, preferring to keep emotional distance to protect themselves from potential rejection. They may also prioritize independence over emotional closeness. They might appear distant or detached, making their partners feel neglected or unimportant.
As an adult, disorganized attached people can result in unpredictable behaviors in relationships. They may find it challenging to engage emotionally, leading to volatile and unstable connections. There can also be a huge lack of trust in others and experience periods of intense emotional closeness, followed by abrupt emotional withdrawal.
In adulthood, a secured attached person forms healthy, secure relationships, confidently expressing their emotions and building strong connections with others. They are more likely to trust their partners and manage conflicts constructively. They are also more resilient during challenging times.
Now that we broke down what attachment styles are and how they’re developed, you might be questioning yourself in where you stand. Like I mentioned earlier, I was an anxiously attached person in my previous relationships. It’s taking a lot of work (still) and healing to shift the way I look at relationships now, and you can do the same to eventually reach that secured attachment we all want to have. How can that be done? Let me explain…
Changing Attachment Styles
Self-awareness: Recognizing your attachment style is the first step towards change. Reflect on your past experiences and current behaviors to understand how your attachment style affects your relationships. You can also take an online quiz to determine your attachment style.
Seek Therapy: Working with a qualified therapist can help you explore past traumas, fears & insecurities that contribute to your attachment style. Therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and attachment-based therapy, can be beneficial. If you’re looking for affordable online therapy sessions in the comfort of your own home, BetterHelp® is a proud sponsor of Watch Us Thrive. Save 10% off your first month of online therapy!
Communication and Vulnerability: Practice open and honest communication with your special someone. Don’t hold back on sharing your feelings and fears & encourage them to do the same. Being vulnerable allows for deeper emotional connections.
Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation: Develop mindfulness practices to become more aware of your emotions and reactions. Learning how to regulate your emotions can help manage anxiety and avoidant tendencies. Some of my personal favorite ways to regulate my emotions is journaling, breath work and listening to guided meditations.
The Bottom Line
Understanding attachment styles and their development can be a game-changer in your journey to find love. From the secure sweethearts to the disorganized dreamers, our early parenting experiences play a huge role in shaping how we connect with others. The good news is that attachment styles are not set in stone. With self-awareness, empathy & a willingness to grow, you can navigate towards more secure and satisfying relationships.
Whether you’re on a journey to improve your own attachment style or seeking to understand your bae better, remember that building healthier connections isn’t an overnight process. Embrace the lessons from attachment theory, be gentle with yourself & keep an open heart. As we try to develop secure attachments and healthier love bonds, you must first open yourself up to a world of deeper emotional connections. You got this, sis! Cheers to a future of secure and fulfilling relationships!💞
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