Over the weekend, my cousin Lindsay and I were chatting about our marriages. As we talked, we found that we each had our own unique way of attaching to our partners. Lindsay told me that she had an “anxious” attachment style, meaning that she tends to cling to her partner, fearing that the relationship will end if she doesn’t. I had never heard of the term “attachment style” before, so naturally I asked her what it meant. She informed me that there are several different attachment styles including secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, fearful-avoidant, dependent, and codependent. However, the 4 primary attachment styles are secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, fearful-avoidant. According to PhD David Susman, we develop our attachment style during childhood based on how we interact with our parents. These attachment styles transfer to our adult lives and influence the way that we interact and attach to our romantic partners.
After taking a quick quiz by Psychology Today, I learned that my attachment style is fearful-avoidant by 51%. So, what does this mean? According to Susman, those with avoidant attachment styles, either fearful or dismissive, may have avoided their parents as children. They likely did not turn to their parents for comfort often and may not have cared if there parent was with them or someone else. Susman says that as adults, those with avoidant attachment styles may struggle with intimacy and may have a difficult time revealing their thoughts and feelings to their partner. They may also withhold emotion in relationships. Unique to the fearful-avoidant attachment style, these individuals are usually drawn to chaotic romantic relationships that are full of stress and drama. They desperately desire intimacy but are simultaneously afraid of it. People with this attachment style try to get close to their partner but fear that doing so could cost them too much. They may appear hot and cold, showing their partner with love one day and freezing them out the next. I personally do this a lot when I think that there a chance of getting hurt. I can be very attached to my partner, but if I think that they are up to no good I will emotionally withdrawal from them, no questions asked.
Alternatively, those with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style tend to push their partners away, resisting commitment and intimacy. These people don’t like to tie themselves down and maintain active lives away from their partners. Individuals with this attachment style may focus their time on their social groups, hobbies, or job to avoid intimacy with their partner.
Susman says that those with secure attachment styles likely separated from their parents easily as children. They also likely turned to their parents for comfort, returned their parents affection, and preferred their parents to strangers. This seems to be the most healthy attachment style to have. As adults, people with this attachment style usually have long lasting trust filled relationships. They share their feelings and are comfortable reaching out to others for support. They tend to communicate in a healthy way with their partners. People with this attachment style maintain a positive outlook on their romantic relationships. Lastly, they tend to have good self-esteem and are good at receiving and returning affection.
Those with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style tend to be very anxious and obsessive over their romantic relationships. They constantly fear that their partner is going to leave or fall out of love with them. These individuals need a lot of extra reassurance in their romantic relationships. These people may struggle with paranoia and jealousy. They need to feel secure in their relationships, so they will require a lot of patients, love, and attention from their partner. In childhood, these individuals may have experienced varying degrees of parental abandonment.
Did you take the attachment style quiz? What was your attachment style? Do you agree with its assessment of you? How do you feel your attachment style influences your current romantic relationship/s? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this post, please shoot me a like, comment, or follow.
Love Always, Anxiously M