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What Are the Four Attachment Styles and why are they Important to Know?

Have you ever wondered why you seem to have certain patterns of attraction to similar partners?

One of the factors that may influence your choice in partners is your attachment style. Attachment styles come from Attachment Theory. This theory was created by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth.

They believed that the relationship style a person had with their parents/caregivers influenced the multiple ways a person may have felt connected/disconnected to others. In other words, the relationship you form with your parents could transcend to how you form relationships with others (examples include friendships, co-workers, romantic relationships, etc.).

The four attachment styles are:

anxious (“pre-occupied/ambivalent”)

avoidant (“dismissive”)

disorganized (“fearful-avoidant”)


Three out of the four attachment styles are considered insecure attachments; and only one is considered a secure attachment.

You can help empower yourself by being aware of these four attachment styles and how they may apply to you.

What Does Anxious Attachment Look Like?

  • When a parent or partner provides attention in an inconsistent manner.

  • When a person receives “mixed messages” and is not able to predict or expect a realistic response in a healthy way from the other person.

  • When a parent or partner seeks emotional closeness from the other person by trying to satisfy their own emotional needs, and neglecting the other person’s emotional needs.

  • It is important to note that attachment styles are not considered genetically linked. Individuals usually repeat the pattern of attachment they were modeled as a child.

What Does Avoidant Attachment Look Like

  • When a parent or partner is firmer with their communication style.

  • Behaving more emotionally distant.

  • Sometimes being less physically expressive.

  • Sometimes feeling like the “lone wolf” and behaving more independent. May sometimes be hard for this person to ask for support from others.

What does Disorganized Attachment look like?

  • When a child or adult experiences feelings of “fear” from the person they were relying on as their support system.

  • Not feeling emotionally safe to open up due to experiences from their youth.

  • Having difficulty trusting others.

  • Experiencing a “tug of war feeling” of wanting to feel closeness and connection with others, and also being afraid of possibly getting rejected or hurt by others.

  • Trying to protect yourself from pain by avoiding physical intimacy/touch.

What does Secure Attachment look like, and how do I create it?

  • Key ingredient that all human beings desire is to feel loved by their family, friends, and close ones.

  • Feeling emotionally safe.

  • Experiencing stability.

  • Ideally, having grown up in a household that was nurturing where one’s emotional needs were attended to. We can’t control the past; however, you do have control of the present. Doing your best of what is in your current control to cultivate a space in your home where each person feels heard. Providing for yourself, and others the love you were given, or the love you wanted to receive.

  • Practicing introspection, and active reflection through journaling to be more emotionally available to yourself.

  • Working with a counselor to help process different impactful events in your life. Exploring through therapy what was your family of origin like? Being curious of the ways you may have felt both connected and disconnected with different family members.

You deserve to be given the love you want to receive. The way you begin to show up for yourself, teaches others through your actions how you want to be treated. Each person has likely experienced at some point in their life each attachment style with different individuals. In simplistic terms, change is created with 50% awareness, and 50% action.

In reading this blog you have gained more awareness of the four attachment styles and how to begin building secure relationships with others. The call to action is that you have the opportunity to be a chain breaker in generational patterns by creating secure attachments with those closest to you. By reflecting on the attachment styles one experienced in their youth with their caregivers can be very enlightening and eye opening. Using the past as useful information helps you to create change in your present relationships. Through compassion and understanding one can see things in a new light and know everyone is operating to the best of their ability with the tools that they were given.

I hope the tool of awareness and knowledge will help you begin to create change in your attachment styles. If you are seeking additional tools, our office is here for you, book your appointment today!


Attachment styles and their roles in relationships. (2020, July 2). The Attachment Project.

Christopher, C. Creating secure attachment. Therapist Aid.

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