There is a lot of existing information available about attachment styles (e.g., the book Attached), but it’s also important to note that they are fluid.
For example, you can be secure with your friends, but anxious with partners, or avoidant with your parents. You can generally be anxious but when you’re around a friend that is more anxious relative to you, you become more avoidant around them.
I believe that knowing your style can help you be self aware, notice your triggers in order to better manage them, and create safety for yourself. It can move you towards your areas for growth and healing.
It is important to note that your style is not set in stone and you can build a secure attachment. Even the anxious-avoidant couple dynamic can grow into a secure partnership with work.
See below for a non-exhaustive list of signs that you may have an avoidant attachment style….
- You’re generally very self-reliant
- It can be hard to trust others
- Relationships and commitment can feel like a threat to your freedom. Sometimes you worry about being engulfed by the other person
- Asking for your needs may have been scary or dismissed in your childhood so now you find it hard to ask
- It’d be easier if you just found the “perfect partner” who magically knows your wants, needs, and boundaries, rather than having to ask for them
- Expressing your emotions and hearing about others’ emotions can be exhausting
- You may think you owe them if they took you on a date or did something nice. You don’t want to lead them on if you haven’t decided if you like them. Yet, so sometimes you have a tendency to bounce because you feel guilty or don’t want to hurt them
- Your independence is of a higher priority for you than your relationships
- You miss your partner when they’re away, but when you’re together you feel the need to get away and have time for yourself
- It makes you nervous when they start to get too close
- You bounce back easily after a breakup. It’s weird how quickly you can just put them out of your mind
- Sometimes when you get what you want in relationships, you’re not sure what you want anymore
- You find it difficult to emotionally support your partner when they are down
- You prefer not to share your deepest darkest feelings with your partner, and don’t want to burden them with it
- You find it hard to depend on your partner and dislike feeling like they depend on you
- If they go out of their way to do something nice for you, sometimes you feel an obligation or burden to do something for them
- Sometimes you get angry or annoyed at your partner and you don’t even know why
See below for a non-exhaustive list of signs that you may have an anxious attachment style….
- You spend a lot of time wondering about your partners’ feelings for you or where the relationship stands
- You are very sensitive to your partner’s mood
- You start to question if everything is okay if your partner is distant (if they still like you, if you did something wrong, if they’re mad at you, if they have other love interests, etc.)
- You are uncomfortable with ambiguity
- If you express yourself and they don’t share a similar sentiment, you get anxious about how they feel about you
- If they don’t respond or communicate for a while, you start to wonder if something’s wrong
- You spend a lot of time thinking about what’s going wrong and how to fix things in the relationship
- If they get cold and distant, you wonder what you did wrong
- Sometimes you feel like acting out is the only way to get them to see you and get validated, or whatever it is you need
- You may impulsively say or do things you regret later, but you just can’t help yourself in the moment. It’s like you get hijacked and launch into your anxious tendencies, and stories, even if intellectually you know it doesn’t make sense or isn’t probable
- When you share your feelings or your hopes for the relationship, there’s a fear they may not feel the same way
- You may tend to get attached quickly to significant others
- You often worry and make things mean that their feelings may have diminished or that they may have stopped loving you altogether
- When your partner is away, you may wonder if they’ll become interested in someone else
- When your partner is texting on their phone, you may wonder who they’re talking to
The disorganized (fearful-avoidant) attachment style
You may have a disorganized (fearful-avoidant) attachment style if you exhibit signs of both anxious and avoidant attachment.
For example, you may act avoidant while dating, but become anxious when you finally like someone, are invested, or step into the relationship (or vice versa).
It may look like longing for and romanticizing finding the one, but when someone is interested, you can’t help but feel suffocated or burdened by it, have trouble trusting, and/or push it away (along with other unpredictable behaviors).
It can be situational. For example, you could usually more anxious but avoidant for certain situations (e.g., a parent yelled a lot so when someone yells it takes you to fragmentation or you dissociate) or vice versa.
Or you can be “Chronic disorganized”, which is when you have both anxious and avoidant tendencies and it is variable, unpredictable, meaning they don’t have a sequence.
But remember, attachment styles are fluid and you can create a secure attachment and a secure partnership. This is what I help my clients with
If you want help with this, set up a consult call to get started! See below for some example signs of a secure attachment style:
- You find it easy to be affectionate with your partner
- You’re comfortable sharing your feelings and sitting with theirs too
- You are able to depend on others freely
- You are generally satisfied with your relationships
- Sometimes people see you as boring or safe because you cause little drama in relationships
- If someone acts cold or distant, you wonder what’s happened, but don’t immediately think it’s about you
In secure romantic relationships, you see the following:
- Both parties are present (you’re there; they’re there)
- There’s attunement
- You are playful together
- Repair (e.g., use opportunies to say what hurt you; open to provide empathy, give signs when ready to repair like a bid for connection, joke to break the ice, come into the room and put arms out for a hug)
- Have rituals about coming and going (at breakfast, when come home, during bedtime, etc)
- Good boundaries
- Respectful relationship (don’t talk bad about each other to others)
- Don’t threaten to leave
- Reassure them when needed
- You’re each others’ go-to person when good or bad things happen; you tell them first
- Someone leaves for a trip and it won’t feel threatening
- You don’t perceive relationships as threatening. You’re okay with trusting and getting close
- You nurture the relationship
- Care for each other within the relationship
- Have consistent responsiveness to communication most of the time
- If there’s misattunement, you know how to repair, how to initiate a repair, receive it and/or apologize
- Feel safe with the other person
- They can hold space for your emotions and you can hold space for theirs
- Can co-regulate
- Feel like you can have a long, healthy relationship and feel like relationships are a good thing
- Can be who you are and are appreciated for all of it
- Feel comfortable asking for your needs, or if they are not available, comfortable going to others or tend to the need yourself
- Can generally resolve conflict easily
- Can see and hear you
- You’re able to relax
- You can give honest feedback
If you want help navigating relationships in a more harmonious way, I can help you.
While we all show signs of our attachment styles in similar ways, we are each unique in how and why we get activated into our attachment habits and behaviors. This is what I help my clients uncover so that we can heal their triggers and activations from the root so that they spend less time activated, and more time connecting with their partners from their authentic self, without those anxious or avoidant behaviors getting in the way of connection.