If you’ve ever been told you’re too clingy, or always feel yourself pulling away from a relationship when it gets too personal, it’s not just habit—it’s your attachment style. Every relationship is intricate, and understanding our attachment styles—how you bond with others and navigate relationships—can be a powerful tool for creating deep and meaningful connections.
There are four primary attachment styles, each offering unique insights into our approaches to love, intimacy, and connection. It’s easiest to see attachment styles manifest in our romantic relationships, and they are most often influenced by our experiences and environments growing up. Maybe you know some of your relationship tendencies already, or maybe you’re completely lost on what any of it means—both are okay! Digging deeper into attachment styles and how they influence the dynamics of our relationships is the perfect start to gaining a better understanding of your relationships and of yourself.
A secure attachment is what we’d all consider the “perfect” relationship. Those with a secure attachment style tend to form strong and stable connections in relationships, and it usually means they grew up with caregivers who were consistently responsive and attuned to their needs. People with secure attachment are comfortable with intimacy and autonomy and feel a sense of security and trust. Here are a few ways to tell if you have a secure attachment style:
This attachment style comes from inconsistent caregiving, meaning someone with an anxious attachment style may fear abandonment and seek constant reassurance. They crave closeness and intimacy but may struggle with self-doubt and worry about the stability of their relationships. This means that open communication and reassurance are vital for navigating relationships with someone with an anxious attachment style. You might be anxiously attached if you:
People with the avoidant attachment style are shaped by caregivers who were emotionally distant. As such, those with an avoidant attachment style prioritize independence and self-sufficiency. They may fear vulnerability and may find it challenging to fully engage emotionally in relationships. It’s crucial to have patience and understanding when forming connections with avoidant individuals and give them space to open up at their own pace. If you have these traits, you may have an avoidant attachment style:
The fearful-avoidant attachment style is often called the disorganized attachment style because these individuals are often the most unstable in relationships. They have usually experienced trauma or inconsistent caregiving. They struggle with balancing a desire for closeness with a fear of rejection and find it challenging to trust others fully. To form a healthy relationship with someone who has a disorganized attachment style, it’s critical to build trust and provide a secure and non-judgmental space. You might have a fearful-avoidant attachment style if you have these tendencies in a relationship:
These four attachment styles aren’t one-size-fits-all; we’re often a mix of all of them. But if you see yourself resonating more deeply with a certain style over others, then great! You’re recognizing your behaviors.
Having a secure attachment style is ideal—but if you find yourself leaning towards one of the other styles, the next step is to work on healing. Healing your attachment style doesn’t mean making it go away or “fixing” yourself—it’s about working towards healthy behaviors and learning to minimize triggers that will overall lead to more satisfying relationships.
Recognizing and understanding these attachment styles can empower us to navigate the complexities of relationships with empathy and compassion. Whether fostering secure bonds or navigating the challenges of anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, or fearful-avoidant attachment styles, the journey toward connection is an ongoing process of self-discovery and mutual understanding. Embracing these styles and healing behaviors can lead to more fulfilling and harmonious relationships, leading to a deeper connection with ourselves and those we hold dear.