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What is your Attachment Style?

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Our childhood and upbringing play major roles in our adulthood, from our character, responses, fears, and morals to how we function in society and interpersonal relationships. The attachment style theory, founded by John Bowlby, explains how our bonds with our primary caregivers during childhood may influence how we navigate relationships throughout our lives.

“The propensity to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals [is] a basic component of human nature” John Bowlby.

There are 4 types of attachment styles; secure, avoidant, anxious, and disorganized. The 4 attachment styles are meant to be a direct reflection of how an individual functions in an intimate relationship. A key point to make note of is, though you may have grown up with a certain attachment style as a child, this attachment style may change in adulthood.

Let's take a closer look at the 4 attachment styles.

1. Secure Attachment

  • Individuals may be low on avoidance and anxiety, comfortable with intimacy, confident, non-reactive and resilient.
  • Individual is able to build long lasting and healthy relationships
  • Traits of the secure attachment style:
    • Comfortable trusting others 
    • High self-esteem 
    • Emotionally available 
    • Comfortable in close relationships 
    • Easy to connect with 
    • Comfortable being alone

2. Avoidant Attachment

  • Individuals are high on avoidance, low on anxiety, uncomfortable with closeness and primarily value independence and freedom.
  • Individual has trouble building long-term relationships
  • Traits of the avoidant attachment style:
    • Dismissive of others
    • Feel a strong sense of independence
    • Have a hard time trusting people
    • Spend more time alone than interacting with others
    • Tendencies to avoid emotional or physical intimacy when conflict arises

3. Anxious Attachment

  • Individual is low on avoidance, high on anxiety, craves closeness and intimacy, insecure about relationship, fears rejection
  • Individual is insecure about relationship
  • Traits of the anxious attachment style:
    • Jealousy tendencies 
    • Difficulty being alone
    • Feeling unworthy of love
    • Intense fear of rejection 
    • Difficulty trusting others 

4. Disorganized Attachment

  • Individual has unresolved mindset and emotions, cannot tolerate emotional closeness in relationship 
  • Individual has extremely inconsistent behaviour and difficulty trusting others
  • Traits of the disorganized attachment style:
    • Fear of rejection
    • Inability to regulate emotions 
    • High levels of anxiety 
    • Signs of both avoidant and anxious attachment styles

Knowing your own and your partner’s attachment style can aid in how you work together in the relationship. It can support in how you communicate thoughts, emotions and needs to one another as well as inform what attachment needs might be most important to each of you. It may also give you a better understanding for why you or your partner act/react in certain ways/situations. There may be experiences from childhood that are enabling you from becoming your best self yet, this is where counselling can help. Talking to a psychotherapist can provide greater clarity and may allow you to work through certain childhood challenges which can enable you to become the partner you aspire to be!

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References:

Written by: Liza AL-Nakash, HBSC, Neuroscience Specialist

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