Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified 

If you want to improve your relationships, it might be helpful to identify your style of attachment. Your attachment style usually manifests in childhood and impacts your attachment patterns as an adult. The four types of attachment styles are secure, avoidant, anxious, and disorganized. 

Do you know which style of attachment is yours? In order to identify your style, you should look for patterns of how you function and feel in relationships. You may not have all of the characteristics of each style, and that’s ok. Simply look for the style that encompasses most of your relational experiences. Also, keep in mind that some people identify with more than one attachment style. For example, some people might identify as a mixture of avoidant-anxious. 

Use the following descriptions to identify your attachment style:

Secure Attachment 

  • Feels safe in an intimate relationship that consists of physical and emotional vulnerability 
  • Provides and accepts emotional vulnerability 
  • Capable of reciprocity: an ability to give and take in a relationship
  • Participates in relationship conflict when needed, does not avoid conflict
  • Ability to participate in relationship repair and achieve forgiveness and/or resolution of past relationship conflicts
  • Experiences interdependence: an ability to be dependent and independent in a relationship. For example: You can allow someone to be separate from you without feeling rejected or abandoned. You can also depend upon someone while also being able to meet your own needs. 
  • Able to emotionally self-regulate when relationship conflicts occur
  • Provides and receives empathy 
  • Ability to establish and maintain trust 

Avoidant Attachment

  • Maintains an emotional distance from others
  • Struggles to express and receive emotional vulnerability 
  • Disconnected from attachment needs, emotions, or actions
  • Seeks independence as opposed to interdependence or dependence
  • Fearful when depending upon others and may avoid situations in which they need to depend upon others
  • Struggles to allow others to depend upon them 
  • Avoids relationship conflicts
  • Feels lonely in relationships 
  • Appears controlled, detached, and/or self-sufficient 
  • Perceived as “the responsible one” or “the calm one” due to emotional detachment and ability to function in high stress situations 

Anxious Attachment 

  • Fearful of being rejected or abandoned in relationships 
  • Perceived as “needy” or “too dependent”
  • Hypervigilant in regards to maintaining the relationship. For example: They may request to know where their partner is at all times
  • Engages in codependent relationships 
  • Appears to take things personally or perceives actions as an attack upon them 
  • Has unresolved past issues in relationships and feels as if these past issues are occurring in the present moment 
  • Struggles to establish and maintain boundaries 
  • Highly emotional and struggles to emotionally self-regulate 
  • Struggles to take accountability for their actions in relationships and tends to blame others for their actions 
  • Attempts to sabotage the relationship 

Disorganized Attachment

  • Struggles to establish and maintain safety and trust in relationships
  • Unresolved past relationship issues continue to impact their present relationships 
  • Recreates past unhealthy or abusive relationships
  • Struggles to experience emotional intimacy 
  • Inability to regulate emotions when experiencing emotional intimacy 
  • Perceived as “antisocial” or “narcissistic”
  • Incapable of providing others with emotional support 
  • Lacks empathy
  • Struggle to establish and maintain safety and trust in relationships
  • May be aggressive, confrontational, or punitive 

Now that you have a better understanding of your attachment style, what do you do now? What if you don’t like your attachment style? First, your understanding of your attachment style can improve your relationships, as you now know how you function, and perhaps also how others function with you.If your attachment styles are avoidant, anxious, or disorganized, you can take steps to develop secure attachments. First, try to seek out relationships with those who are capable of secure attachments. Secondly, consider participating in therapy to help you to embrace and participate in secure attachments. 

Levy, T. (2017 5/25). Four Styles of Adult Attachment [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.evergreenpsychotherapycenter.com/styles-adult-attachment/