In the 1950’s Ainsworth and Bowlby developed a model that is known today as “attachment theory”. They said individuals developed an attachment style in infancy and childhood in response to their relationship with a primary caregiver. Adult attachment styles reflect and exhibit these same patterns in adulthood.
In the article, “What Is Your Attachment Style? Attachment Theory, Explained,” Gonsalves and Hallett describe the four main attachment styles.
- Secure – people who securely attach can trust others and be trusted. They love and accept love. They are also able to connect closely to others. According to research, secure attachment is highly correlated with happiness in relationships.
- Anxious – this type of attachment style is marked by a deep fear of abandonment. A person with this style tends to be insecure and very afraid that their partner will leave them. They are also constantly seeking validation and closeness.
- Avoidant – those who are avoidant always feel alone. They are dissatisfied and feel their partner isn’t right for them. They are always looking for a better partner or believe that they shouldn’t have left a previous or old partner. They generally keep some distance between themselves and their primary partner.
- Fearful-Avoidant – this is a combination of both the anxious and avoidant attachment styles. People with this style exhibit extreme behavior. They desperately want affection; however, avoid affection at all costs. These individuals are reluctant to develop close relationships, but also have a strong desire to be loved by others.
Attachment styles provide language to understand our relationship patterns and needs. Gonsalves and Hallett suggest that increasing self-esteem through therapy and examining ones real needs, one can change their attachment style.
To obtain more information about how attachment styles are formed, what your attachment style is and how to adjust or change our attachment styles, please see the Gonsalves and Hallett article.