The 4 Different Attachment Styles and Why They Matter

It is well-known that we all have the capacity to love, but not a lot of people are aware of their attachment style and how that impacts their love.

Attachment theory was developed in the 1950s by psychotherapist John Bowlby and later built upon by Mary Ainsworth.

A person’s attachment style is telling of the type of partner they will choose, the level of intimacy, and how it will thrive or how it will end.

Childhood development plays a key role and lays the groundwork for the type of attachment model a person will have well into adulthood.

Secure Attachment

A person who has a secure attachment style is seen as someone who is able to build healthy, long-lasting relationships.

A secure attachment is achieved when a child is able to feel safe with their primary caregivers from an early age and is able to ask for reassurance or validation from them without fear of being punished.
In the end, they experienced these early connections where they felt secure, understood, reassured, and valued.
Their caregivers most likely were emotionally available and were conscious of their own behaviors and emotions. 

Signs that a person has a secure attachment include, but are not limited to: comfortable being alone, emotional availability, ability to self-reflect in partnerships, high self-esteem, ability to emotionally regulate, effective communication skills, and the ability to decipher when to seek emotional support.

Anxious Attachment

aka preoccupied, or anxious-ambivalent in children

It is characterized by an inability to form healthy, lasting relationships with other people as a result of a refusal to engage in emotional and physical intimacy with other people.

In childhood, the caregivers were stern, emotionally distant, or absent. The caregivers may have left the child to fend for themselves, rejected them when they expressed their needs or emotions and even may have expected them to be independent too soon.

Anxiously attached adults tend to keep their relationships at arms length.

Signs that a person has an anxious attachment style include, but are not limited to: uncomfortable expressing their feelings, avoid emotional and physical intimacy, dismissive of others, strong sense of independence and a hard time trusting others.

Avoidant Attachment

aka dismissive, or anxious-avoidant in children

This attachment style is the result of parents who are erratic in their parenting and who aren’t sensitive to their children’s need.

These kids have a hard time communicating with their caretakers, and they have no idea what to anticipate from them in the future. They frequently experience feelings of instability and confusion within their connections with their parents.

An anxious attachment style is typically marked by, but not limited to: needing approval from others, clingy tendencies, difficulty being alone, feeling unworthy of love, intense fear of rejection and jealous tendencies.

Disorganized Attachment

aka fearful-avoidant in children

Trauma, neglect, or abuse experienced in childhood are the most typical factors that lead to a disorganized attachment style. There is also a current fear of their parents, which represents their sense of safety.

The inconsistency of caregivers, who are both perceived as sources of solace and anxiety by the children in their care, contributes to the children’s dysfunctional patterns of behavior.

Signs that a person has a fearful-avoidant attachment style include, but are not limited to: inability to regulate their emotions, high levels of anxiety, fear of rejection,

Why Does It Matter?

We have an unconscious anticipation that our romantic partners will behave in the same manner that our parents did, and as a result, we conduct ourselves in a specific manner.

Regardless of whether or not we are aware of it, these behaviors continue to exist.

I started out with an anxious attachment. This was before I formally entered into my psychology studies and started to go inward to dissect my childhood.

John Bowlby had the belief that the attachment patterns that a person develops in their youth never go away. He argued that we respond based on a “if, then” paradigm, which goes as follows: “If I am upset, then I can count on my partner to support me (or not).”

However, neuroscience has shown us that our brains are not that simple and that it is possible to change our attachment style.

Even if we tend to identify with a single style, we are far too complicated as individuals to be tied to a single style for the rest of our lives: We are always maturing, expanding, and adjusting to the circumstances of our relationships and surroundings, all of which have an impact on our attachment style. 

It is possible to change the way in which our brains functions, which will then change our behaviors. The first thing that is required is to acknowledge that there is a problem and make up your mind that you want to fix it. The second step is to make the change.

Let’s be honest, every day intention is necessary. In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all recipe to address your attachment style. We have all lived such unique lives, this is why knowing thy self is important.

You cannot undo what happened to you in childhood, but know that you are in the driver’s seat now. For me, mindfulness is crucial to maintain my cultivated and newfound secure attachment. Sit with you, get to know you and love on you to find what works best for who? YOU.

Take the quiz to find out your attachment style

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C O N N E C T – W I T H – M E



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