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Understanding Types of Attachment Styles in Relationships

types of attachment styles

Our attachment styles shape our relationships and how we connect with others. Understanding this level of interest is entirely understandable, as the different attachment styles in relationships can impact interpersonal interactions in unique ways. The different types of attachment styles include the way we tend to react emotionally to others, how we usually interact with members in relationships, and how we behave when it comes to relationships in general.

Keep reading and learn more about the primary attachment styles, how they affect our relationships, and how you can determine yours. You can always seek help from trained mental health professionals if you’re struggling with relationships.

Attachment Style Theory

In the 1950s, as stated by psychoanalytic John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, attachment theory showcases how our bond with our primary caregivers sets the foundation for navigating relations throughout.

According to the theory, the primary goal of a human newborn is to preserve proximity to its caregiver, which is essential for survival during evolution. Because of the development, infants, and toddlers were observing their parents to see what methods would authorize them to stay close, Bowlby acknowledged. If the primary caregiver understood and made the infant feel safe, it would likely develop a prosperous relationship and secure attachment with the child. As an adult, that usually deciphers to being self-confident, trusting, and hopeful, able to operate conflict healthily, respond to intimacy, and helm the ups and downs of ideological relationships.

On the other hand, if someone has experienced negligence or inconsistent emotional communication during their childhood and if their caregiver was unable to comfort them or respond to their needs consistently, they’re more likely to have faced an unsuccessful or insecure attachment. Infants with insecure attachment often mature into adults who have problems understanding their own emotions and the feelings of others, restricting their ability to construct or maintain stable relationships. They may find it soliciting to engage with other individuals, stay away from intimacy, or be too clingy, nervous, or anxious in a relationship.

Of course, incidents between infancy and adulthood can also impact and shape our connections. Yet, the infant's brain is so profoundly impacted by the attachment bond that understanding your attachment style can indicate why you may have troubles in your adult relationships. Maybe that is why you tend to act in a puzzling or self-destructive way when in a close relationship. You may repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over. Or you need help like teenager counseling or relationship counseling to form meaningful connections in the first place. 

How do attachment styles shape relationships?

Attachment styles influence our daily lives and relationships. It is widely accepted that any attachment style affects our communication, relationships, and emotional intimacy. Partners of anxiously attached people may feel the need to reassure the other person constantly, making it overwhelming for them to adjust in such scenarios. It can also lead to conflicts with the issues of jealousy and poor boundaries. 


Different types of attachment styles:

Let us dive into this world of attachment styles and understand the types more deeply. 

Secure attachment style: 

Being empathetic and able to set appropriate boundaries is the prime action of people with secure attachments. They feel secure, sturdy, and more comfortable in their intimate relationships. While they don’t fear being alone, they usually thrive in close, meaningful relationships.

How does a secure attachment style affect adult relationships?

A secure attachment style doesn’t certify that you’re perfect or don’t experience relationship anxiety or have issues like others. However, having a secure attachment style means you feel secure enough to take accountability for your blunders and failings and are willing to pursue assistance and aid when required.


  • When you encounter dismay, setbacks, and misfortune in your relationships and other parts of your life, you’re resilient enough to bounce back. 
  • You value your self-worth and be yourself in an intimate relationship. You’re relaxed expressing your feelings, hopes, and needs.
  • You’re content when your partner relies on you for support.
  • You delight in being with others and sincerely seek support and comfort from your partner, but don’t get overly anxious when you are apart.
  • You can preserve your emotional balance and seek healthy ways to address conflict in a close relationship.

Secure-attachment-styleSome individuals may identify with some but not all of the attributes of secure attachment. Even if your connections tend to be steady, it’s feasible that you have specific patterns of behavior or thinking that cause conflict with your partner and need to be actively addressed. Start by seeing if you relate to any aspects of the three insecure attachment styles.

Anxious attachment style

People with an anxious attachment style (also referred to as “ambivalent attachment”) tend to be overly needy. As the labels suggest, people with this attachment style are often anxious and uncertain, lacking in self-esteem. They crave emotional intimacy but worry that others don’t want to be with them.

How does an anxious attachment style affect adult relationships?

If you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, you may be embarrassed about being too clingy or your constant need for love and attention. Or you may feel worn down by fear and anxiety about whether your partner loves you.


  • You want to be in a relationship and crave closeness and intimacy with a significant other. Still, you need help to feel you can trust or entirely rely on your partner.
  • Being in an intimate relationship takes over your life, and you become overly fixated on the other person.
  • You may find it challenging to observe boundaries, viewing space between you as a threat, which can provoke panic, anger, or fear that your partner no longer wants you.
  • A lot of your sense of self-worth rests on how you feel you’re being treated in the relationship, and you tend to overreact to any perceived threats to the relationship.
  • You feel anxious or jealous when away from your partner and may use guilt, controlling behavior, or other manipulative tactics to keep them close.
  • You need constant reassurance and lots of attention from your partner.
  • Others may criticize you for being too needy or clingy, and you may struggle to maintain close relationships.


Avoidant attachment style

Adults with an avoidant-dismissive insecure attachment style are the opposite of those who are ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied. Instead of craving intimacy, they’re so wary of closeness they try to avoid emotional connection with others. They’d instead not rely on others or have others rely on them.

How avoidant attachment style affects adult relationships

As someone with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style, you tend to find it challenging to tolerate emotional intimacy. You value your independence and freedom to the point where you can feel uncomfortable, even stifled by intimacy and closeness in a romantic relationship. You’re an independent person, content to care for yourself, and don’t feel you need others.


Disorganized/disoriented attachment style

Disorganized/disoriented attachment, also referred to as fearful-avoidant attachment, stems from intense fear, often as a result of childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse. Adults with this insecure attachment style tend to feel they don’t deserve love or closeness in a relationship.


Tips To Transition To A More Secure Attachment Style

1. Improve your nonverbal communication skills.

One of the most important lessons gleaned from attachment theory is that adult relationships, just like the first relationship with your primary caregiver, depend on their success in nonverbal forms of communication. Even though you may not be aware of it, when you interact with others, you continuously give and receive wordless signals via the gestures you make, your posture, how much eye contact you make, and the like. These nonverbal cues send strong messages about what you feel. Take the help of a trained relationship counselor to better your life skills.

2. Boost your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to empathize with your partner, communicate more effectively, and deal with conflict in a healthier way. As well as helping to improve how well you read and use nonverbal communication, building emotional intelligence can help strengthen a romantic relationship. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’ll be better able to express your needs and feelings to your partner, as well as understand how your partner is feeling.

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If you are wondering how you find your attachment style, there is no shortage of information and trusted sources to help you. Some websites and quizzes help you determine your attachment style by analyzing your upbringing and relationships. But tread your paths carefully and make sure it is from a valid source, and of course, there are always trained professionals who can guide you in the right direction. 

And if you are a parent or parent-to-be, strive to be available for them — emotionally and physically — and you can stimulate the secure attachment that directs to the wholesomest demeanors in adulthood. Because parenting is about sculpting a future for your child, don’t worry if you don’t always get it right. And if you feel that you’d like to work toward changing your attachment style, remember that nothing is carved in stone. Working with a trained therapist on patterns of insecure behaviors would potentially be the most beneficial way to earn secure attachment. Attachment security doesn’t have to be a distant dream or unachievable wish: You can achieve a secure attachment style through psychoeducation, self-awareness, and self-growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most common attachment styles is the secure one, and the least common is the ambivalent one.

Fearful/Disorganized - Disorganized attachment is generally displayed by a fear of intimacy and avoidance of relationship-building. This is often considered an unhealthy attachment style.

Avoidant attachment style is one of three adult insecure attachment styles. Individuals with an avoidant attachment style grow to be detached, and emotional intimacy can be challenging for them. It is often difficult for them to form and sustain deep romantic relationships.

Individuals with an ambivalent attachment style (also referred to as “anxious-preoccupied,” “ambivalent-anxious,” or simply “anxious attachment”) tend to be overly needy. As the labels suggest, people with this attachment style are often anxious and uncertain, lacking in self-esteem.

Yes, it can. The good news is that your attachment style can change over time—though it's slow and challenging. Research shows that an anxious or avoidant who enters a long-term relationship with a secure can be “raised” to the level of the secure over an extended period.

A trained therapist can help you with your attachment styles. Therapy can help with an Insecure-Disorganized attachment style by helping you develop healthy relationships with others. Having someone to turn to when times get tough can help improve self-confidence and make life less stressful,

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