Attachment Theory

Attachment refers to the ability to form emotional bonds and empathic, enjoyable relationships with other people, especially close family members. It addresses how human beings respond within relationships when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving a threat.

These different attachment styles and behaviors affect our ability to connect, especially romantically, with other adults once we mature. It proposes that the type of romantic relationship one has as an adult is determined by the type of relationship they had with their primary caregiver as a child.

Attachment Styles

  1. Secure
    Securely attached people tend to agree with the following statements: “It is relatively easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable depending on others and having others depend on me. I don’t worry about being alone or others not accepting me.” This style of attachment usually results from a history of warm and responsive interactions with their attachments. Securely attached people tend to have positive views of themselves and their attachments. They also tend to have positive views of their relationships. Often they report greater satisfaction and adjustment in their relationships than people with other attachment styles. Securely attached people feel comfortable both with intimacy and with independence.Secure attachment and adaptive functioning are promoted by a caregiver who is emotionally available and appropriately responsive to his or her child’s attachment behavior, as well as capable of regulating both his or her positive and negative emotions.
  2. Anxious
    People with anxious attachment type seek high levels of intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from their attachment figure. They sometimes value intimacy to such an extent that they become overly dependent on the attachment figure. They often doubt their worth as a person and blame themselves for the attachment figure’s lack of responsiveness. People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment may exhibit high levels of emotional expressiveness, emotional dysregulation, worry, and impulsiveness in their relationships.
  3. Avoidant (Dismissive)
    People with this attachment style desire a high level of independence. They view themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable to feelings associated with being closely attached to others. They often deny needing close relationships. Not surprisingly, they seek less intimacy with attachments, whom they often view less positively than they view themselves. People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style tend to suppress and hide their feelings, and they tend to deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the sources of rejection.
  4. Fearful-Avoidant
    People with losses or other trauma in childhood and adolescence may often develop this type of attachment. They tend to agree with statements like: “I am somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to other people.”These mixed feelings are combined with sometimes unconscious, negative views about themselves and their attachments. They commonly view themselves as unworthy of responsiveness from their attachments, and they don’t trust the intentions of their attachments.

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