Attachment Styles and How They Affect Relationships

By | April 28, 2020

Before getting into anything too detailed, it is important to know what attachment means. It can mean different things to different people, but the official definition is an emotional bond that forms between one person and another. The more common meaning is the affection or fondness for someone or something. Typically, we form our attachment style within the first years of our lives. If you have any children, you know how this works. When you leave your child with someone like a babysitter, they cry and throw a fit for you not to leave them. Although it is more commonly the mother who has this issue the most, fathers experience the same thing if they are an active parent to their child.

Stages of Attachment

There are different stages of attachment in children. Stranger anxiety is the response when a stranger comes near them, separation anxiety happens when separated from a parent, and social referencing is when the child depends on their parent on how to respond to anything new. If your parent or caregiver was there for you during each of these times and practiced good attachment responses, you should have a healthy attachment style. Yes, there are several styles of attachment, including secure attachment, which is the healthy type, and three unhealthy types, which are anxious-preoccupied attachment, avoidant-dismissive attachment, and disorganized attachment.

Secure Attachment

Secure attachment is a healthy type where the person trusts their partner and has a healthy level of self-esteem. They feel positive about themselves and their relationships, have a positive view of others and presume that others feel the same. Secure attachments lead to long-lasting, strong relationships with others who are similarly secure. Those with secure attachment types will be more inclined to choose the right kind of relationship whether it is romantic or friendship. Work relationships also flourish with these types of attachments and they are more able to get along with others, including strangers.

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment

Approximately 18% of adults have an anxious attachment style. This typically means that they have a difficult time finding a secure and healthy relationship due to a lack of proper care as a child. This does not mean that they were abused or neglected, just that their parent or caregiver did not give them a healthy childhood due to their own attachment disorders. They may have been too preoccupied with their own unstable relationships to give their child the amount of attention they needed. This type of attachment usually leads to the need for constant reassurance from partners, jealousy, or overreacting to relationship issues, have extreme highs and lows in relationships, and may have anxiety or panicky feeling when their partner is not around. These relationships do not typically last very long due to the constant need for attention and insecurity.

Avoidant-Dismissive Attachment

This type of attachment is the opposite of the anxious-preoccupied attachment. Both of these types are due to insecurity formed as an infant, but the avoidant-dismissive attachment type tends to be more aloof and distant in a relationship. Many people with this type of attachment type find themselves in a relationship with an anxious-preoccupied type. But the more the anxious partner tries to push or attach, the further the avoidant partner gets. Being able to shut down or dismiss their partner, they can avoid or ignore their partner’s feelings and go on with life as if nothing is wrong. This causes people to think they are cold or heartless when they are really just trying to protect themselves from pain.

Disorganized Attachment

This type of attachment style is formed from a childhood issue where the person may have been neglected or abused. Those with a disorganized type of attachment are trying to deal with a past trauma of their own and may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Up to 80% of those who were abused as a child have a disorganized attachment type. Because of past abuse, as an adult, these people may be aggressive or even abusive themselves. They do not make friends easily and can be controlling, selfish, and even antisocial. Many people with this type of attachment have a tendency toward alcohol or drug abuse.

Talk to Someone

If you are in a relationship with someone who has one of the unhealthy types of attachment styles, it is important to try to get them some help. If you are the one who has an unhealthy attachment style, there are people who can help you right now. You won’t even have to set an appointment. In fact, you do not even have to leave your house. You can talk to a relationship counselor who is licensed and experienced in helping with these types of issues. All you have to do is go online with and answer a few simple questions. They will pair you up with a counselor that you can instantly talk to online with text on your phone, tablet, or any other electronic device. You will have a “room” that you and the counselor share to talk to each other 24/7 so you don’t have to wait for weeks to get an appointment. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and sign up now.

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The Good Men Project