First, you should know that attachment styles are spread out along a spectrum. It is rare for someone to perfectly fit one attachment style or another. The attachment is more like a bell curve, with a hilly center where most people spend their time.
These are the four known real relationship attachment types
Secure the connection
People with a secure attachment style think, “I’m fine, and you’re fine, too.” They think they deserve love and respect and usually believe their partners will treat them that way. Securely attached adults don’t worry too much about whether or not their partner loves them, cares about them, or wants to be with them. They usually get over breakups and rejections quickly and don’t mind being close or far away in their relationships.
Attachment with worry
Anxious attachment-type individuals don’t have as much self-assurance. They worry their partner doesn’t love, care about, or want to be with them. They worry about being left alone, so they need a lot of reassurance that their partner won’t leave. Their need for reassurance can sometimes lead them to act in a controlling way, which can push their partner away. People might call them “needy” or “clingy.”
Those with an avoidant attachment style do not believe they deserve love and respect and do not have faith in other people to care for their needs. They usually think it’s safer not to depend on anyone and have a deep-seated belief that they are alone. Avoidantly attached individuals may see their partner’s attempts to approach as dangerous. They might try to avoid commitment and emotional openness and make up bad stories about their partners to explain why they should avoid them.
Disorganized way of forming bonds
A disordered attachment style, sometimes called anxious-avoidant attachment, is characterized by a relationship orientation that fluctuates. They could want love and intimacy yet struggle to put their faith in their relationships. As a result, they may feel a strong urge to avoid rejection or desertion at all costs. They tend to pull and push their partners back and forth between each other. Disorganized attachment is an uncommon attachment type linked to an abusive upbringing; it is not the same as having erratic sentiments toward a partner or desires for intimacy.
Attachment styles in relationships are not fixed.
Our attachment patterns change based on how our partners are orientated from relationship to relationship. If we’re with a partner who is always worried and only feels loved when we keep reassuring them, we’ll naturally try to avoid them. If we’re with a partner who avoids us and seems distant and closed off, we’ll naturally feel a bit more worried and worried about the relationship.
Attachment styles can change even within the same relationship. Your worry will increase when your spouse becomes more reclusive or distant. You may unconsciously urge for more love or attention to make yourself feel better about how safe the relationship is at these times.
You will instinctively want more distance from your spouse and shift closer to the avoidant end of the bell curve if they start acting needy, clinging, or demanding from you.
Your relationship is being helped to establish a balance so that it can last by the attachment mechanism at work. But sometimes, couples can get stuck in a pattern of extreme pursuit and withdrawal. This is especially true when one partner is anxious, and the other is shy. This can lead to a lot of arguments and stress for both people.
If your relationship has a pursue-withdraw dynamic, it can help to understand why you’re either pulling away from your partner or pursuing them and what they’ll likely do in response. While engaging with a licensed marriage and family therapist familiar with relationship systems may be helpful, it can be challenging to break these patterns.
Depending on the attachment, many different types are normal and acceptable. Even if you tend to be more anxious or need a little more space in your relationships, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.
But that doesn’t stop people from making up “attachment issues” for themselves or their partners, which are rare. Attachment problems in adults are at the extreme ends of the attachment style normal curve. They are often caused by neglect, abuse, trauma, abandonment, or other bad experiences in childhood or by personality disorders that don’t have anything to do with those things.
This does happen, but to different degrees. You might have attachment problems as an adult because of things that happened to you in the past or because of your genes. But calling yourself or your partner “attachment challenged” isn’t helpful. It makes it harder to develop self-compassion and understanding, to learn and grow in your relationship, and to build the trust and emotional safety that a healthy attachment needs.
How People Attach
Suppose you think your and your partner’s attachment styles are causing problems in your relationship. Working with a certified marriage and family therapist who understands attachment can be very helpful in that case.
And just being in a healthy relationship can do a lot to help someone who has trouble attaching. People can feel safe and trust others again when they have strong relationships.