Which of These Four Attachment Styles is Yours? Newsflash: It Might Be Affecting Your Relationship

Ever heard of relationship attachment styles before?

If you’re a psychology nerd like me, you probably have. In fact, I bet you’ve already taken a test to see which attachment style you possess (if you haven’t, I found one for you here!).

Defined by John Bowlby, aka the founder of Attachment Theory, the word attachment is a “deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space.”

According to his attachment theory, Bowlby believes that we each have our own preferred “attachment style,” as the result of how our parents or guardians related to us when we were children—specifically, how our caregivers shaped our emotional knowledge of independence, dependence, receiving and giving love, support and affection.

The kicker? These attachment styles ultimately affect who we choose to be our sexual or romantic partners in the future.


Generally speaking, there are four different attachment styles: secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-anxious and disorganized. I say “generally speaking” because there are *many* complexities to each style—some people are even known to bounce back and forth between insecure-avoidant and insecure-anxious. But we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s briefly walk through each one.

Secure Attachment Style

People with secure attachment are comfortable showing interest and affection with their romantic partners, as well as being alone and independent. If you identify with this style, you probably know how to prioritize your relationships—including your friends and family—and are pretty cool with setting clear boundaries (woo-hoo!).

Even though secure attachment is the goal here, those who have it didn’t necessarily have the most perfect childhood. However, they learned early on that it’s safe to rely on people. And when reliance failed them, they learned to deal with disappointment without freaking out. True, accepting rejection is painful in their eyes, but totally doable.

In a nutshell, those with this style are loyal, trustworthy, trusting, and unafraid to make emotional connections.

Insecure-Avoidant Attachment Style

People with insecure-avoidant attachments can be described as commitment-averse, super independent, and extremely uncomfortable with intimacy. In fact, they may even go well out of their way to create a life that avoids any semblance of romantic connection with others. And when they *do* allow someone into their life, they eventually look for “evidence” to ditch them completely, feeling smothered or suffocated once they get too close.

We often see this attachment style being played out by the person who’s a workaholic and gets frustrated when the person they’re dating wants to have dinner with them a couple times a week. Or someone who enters into a relationship, then quickly finds a silly quirk in their partner—like the way they laugh or the sound of their voice—so they can end it altogether.

In a nutshell, those with this style have trouble attaching altogether, finding every little reason to avoid closeness, affection, and connection.

Insecure-Anxious Attachment Style

People with insecure-anxious attachments often need tons of reassurance and affection, especially in their romantic relationships. If they don’t receive constant attention, they’ll most likely feel extremely nervous, stressed and anxious about their partner leaving them—which explains why they have trouble being single or alone. Often those with insecure-anxious attachment find themselves entrenched in unhealthy, and sometimes abusive relationships.

Sadly, even if you don’t identify with this attachment, you may have experienced this type of person before. They’re the ones who call you 58,000 times in the middle of the night thinking you’re upset with them, or the ones who have extreme jealousy issues.

In a nutshell, those with this style have trust issues, resulting in overly emotional, irrational behavior towards their partner.

Disorganized Attachment Style

People with disorganized attachment, aka the most extreme of the insecure attachment style, might have experienced some sort of abuse or trauma in their childhood—possibly a caretaker who a) offered inconsistent emotional support, b) demonstrated verbal, physical or sexual abuse, or c) commited a traumatizing act, such as a father partaking in drug activity or hitting their spouse. If you identify with this style, you may have learned that your attachment figure is someone to be feared. You also might find yourself oscillating between wanting to be loved and needing to protect yourself.

Those with disorganized attachment often feel fear and anxiety with their romantic partners, suffering from a poor self-image. Even if they receive emotional support and connection, they likely feel intense loneliness. Unfortunately, when they experience any sort of stress, it causes the person to act irrationally, ultimately driving themselves away from their partner on purpose.

In a nutshell, those with this style have an extreme desire for closeness, a fear of rejection, and conflicting emotional behavior.

Okay, holy sh*t, that was a lot. By now, you probably have a greater understanding of the different attachment styles and how they affect your relationship. The understanding is that we attract partners who match our own emotional availability. But what’s important to note is that the way to make real change in your relationship is not by changing your partner, but by—yep, you guessed it—owning your sh*t.

We need to learn how to trust ourselves, value our own opinions, find comfort in being alone, and allow others “in” when we need help.

Easier said than done? Absolutely. But by becoming aware of your own baggage (like we did today!), you can take the next step to make significant change. In other words, if you identify with any of the attachments other than secure, don’t despair. Expert opinion suggests that attachment patterns can be improved by nourishing long-term relationships, including friends, romantic partners, therapists, and relationship coaches.

That’s where I come in.

When you work with me, you’ll learn how to:

– Become more self-aware of your role in each of your relationships

– Identify the underlying cause of your conflicts

– Recognize your triggers and manage your responses to them

– Create clear and concise boundaries with yourself and others

– Express yourself with confidence and conviction

– Eliminate repetitive and destructive arguments

– Separate what you can control and what you can’t

– Develop better strategies for communicating under pressure

– Have more realistic expectations of other people

– Alleviate your anger, rage, frustration and resentment

– Stop taking everything personally so you can start having more FUN in your life

I offer a proven approach to help you build the fulfilling, true relationship you desire. Think of this as an actionable plan for fixing your relationship. In other words, I’m not just teaching you what to do—but how to do it.
Sounds pretty life-changing, right? Contact me today to schedule a low-key, no-pressure, no-commitment phone call to see if I’m a good fit for you and to answer any questions you might have.

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Lisa Panos

Lisa Panos is a Certified Life Coach and Author who helps people stop struggling and start thriving in their personal and professional relationships. Trained by Dr. Martha Beck (aka, Oprah’s Life Coach), Lisa helps her clients create new, healthy relationships, mend those that are broken, or say goodbye to ones that no longer serve them. She combines highly effective coaching tactics with an explosive arsenal of personal experience that swiftly moves people out of dysfunction and into a place of deep inner strength.

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