Adult Attachment Styles

It has been shown that the attachment style developed in childhood (read more here) effects our relationships as adults. While people tend to stay within the same attachment style through adulthood, people do change and adopt behaviors or traits from multiple styles. The different types of attachments should be seen as a continuum.

1) Secure Attachment

Adults who develop secure attachments are more likely to be satisfied with their relationships. This usually happens because they can feel secure and connected to their partner without feeling the need to physically be together at all times. Their relationships are likely to consist of honesty, support, independence, and deep emotional connections.

2) Dismissive Avoidant (or Anxious-Avoidant) Attachment

Adults with this attachment style tend to keep their distance from others. This could be because they don’t feel they need human connection to survive or thrive. They might insist on wanting to maintain their independence and isolation from others. These individuals usually ‘shut down’ emotionally when a hurtful scenario arises, such as a serious argument with a partner or a threat of the relationship ending.

3) Anxious-Preoccupied (or Anxious-Resistant) Attachment 

Adults with this attachment style form less secure bonds with their partners, which can leave them feeling desperate for love or affection. They may feel that they need their partner to ‘complete’ them or solve their problems. They want safety and security in their relationships, but also tend to act in ways that push their partners away. The behaviors associated with this type of attachment style include being: clingy, demanding, jealous, or easily upset by small issues.

4) Fearful Avoidant (or Disorganized) Attachment

The second type of avoidant attachment are people who generally try to avoid their feelings because they easily become overwhelmed by them. They may deal with unpredictable or abrupt mood swings, with fear of getting hurt by a romantic partner. They tend to be drawn to a partner, but fear getting too close. This style makes it difficult to form and maintain meaningful, healthy relationships with others.

Someone who displays one type of attachment style may also exhibit behaviors associated to another type of attachment style as well. These styles are meant to describe and understand individual behavior, rather than find an exact fit for one’s personality. Based on a person’s primary attachment style, the way they approach intimate relationships, marriage, and parenting can vary widely.