The 4 Relationship Attachment Styles: All you Need to Know

Relationship attachment styles

Have you noticed a pattern in all your relationships resulting in the same negative outcome each time? Have you wished to finally break the vicious cycle? Well, it’s time to learn all about attachment styles.

The reason why we act and react in certain ways in relationships is deeply rooted in our psychology. The way in which we attach emotionally to our partner is determined in our childhood from the relationship we have with our parents.

Okay, but is there a way to break the pattern, when your attachment style is so deeply rooted? Read along to find out what to do in a relationship according to your particular attachment style.

What are the Main Attachment Styles

The attachment theory was developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in the 1950s and it takes into consideration the way our needs were met or unmet when we were children. Many times, a relationship fails it is precisely due to our attachment style, although it doesn’t explain every problem in relationships.

Keep in mind that attachment styles are simply behavioral traits, and they are different from attachment disorders, which are psychiatric conditions and need professional treatment.

The styles form during our infancy and they all depend on how much care we received as babies. If our needs weren’t properly met, we may find it hard to form healthy bonds.

According to the theory, the 4 main attachment styles are:

  • Secure;
  • Anxious;
  • Avoidant;
  • Fearful-avoidant/Disorganized.

Surprisingly, only one of the 4 styles is secure, while the other three are all variations of insecure attachment styles. Okay, but what does each one of them mean and what can you do about it?

Secure Attachment Style

Secure attachment style

People with a secure attachment style form more than half of the population, which is some good news. This means that they are able to form fully functional bonds with other people and have healthy and loving relationships.

These people know their self-worth and don’t have self-confidence issues which could be a reason for a toxic relationship. The best thing about that attachment style is the fact that they can let their partner have personal space and time away without panicking.

They don’t have a problem with displaying intimacy and affection, and they can control and regulate their emotions, making them the best partners to have.

Anxious Attachment

Anxious attachment style

The anxious attachment style is characterized by a severe fear of being abandoned. About 20% of the population exhibits this attachment style.

These people need constant validation and attention, and they need their partner to regularly show them that they are not going to leave them.

In the more severe forms, clingy behavior is demonstrated, which most of the time ruins the relationship, resulting in a vicious cycle.

This attachment style develops when the person’s needs weren’t met consistently as a baby.

The worst part is that these people are easy victims of toxic and abusive relationships.

Avoidant Attachment Style

Avoidant attachment style

The avoidant attachment style could be seen as the opposite of the anxious attachment. It is still an insecure attachment style, but it’s characterized by a fear of showing affection and intimacy.

People with this style are usually distant in relationships and they feel suffocated. Most of the times they even avoid going into a deeper and more serious relationship.

These people feel the by becoming intimate they are becoming weak, so they try to be independent and rely on themselves as much as possible. They express high self-esteem and a rigid emotionality.

This style develops when the parent is uncaring or dismissive of the child’s needs and around 25% of the population has it.


Disorganized attachment style

The rarest attachment style is the fearful-avoidant, also known as “disorganized”. Only 5% of the population has it, and it develops when the parents are a reason for fear due to physical or emotional abuse.

These people usually crave affection, but they are fearful and distrusting of anyone who tries to give it to them, so they are usually suffering most of the time. Their behavior in relationships is unpredictable, as they crave intimacy in one moment, and then push their partner away in the other.

They suppress their emotions, but when under a lot of stress, they have extreme outbursts.

Can you Change your Attachment Style

The good news is, your attachment style can be changed and turned into a secure one with some work and effort. The best way to do that is by working with a therapist.

It is a mistake to expect that the other person will be able to sort of fix you, as this is not their job. Keep in mind that if you’re in a relationship with a toxic person, your attachment style can also switch from a secure to an insecure one, so be careful about whom you’re forming relationships with.

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