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Attachment Styles 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Updated: May 23

Attachment styles were first pioneered by British psychiatrist John Bowlby and American psychologist Mary Ainsworth; the quality of the bonding you experienced during this first relationship often determines how well you relate to other people and respond to intimacy throughout life. Bowlby (1973)  and Ainsworth (1985) both believed attachments were formed most formally with the mother; however, I consider the viewpoints of Field (1996) and Fox (1989) important, which propose that a child's attachment style is influenced not only by their primary caregiver but also by their broader environment and other key figures in their life, such as fathers, aunts, and grandparents. They highlight the significance of the child's temperament as well. I believe these elements are essential to consider.

Gaining insight into your own attachment style can be instrumental in enhancing your connections in both romantic and platonic relationships. It's also important to recognise that attachment styles often run in families, passed down through generations. This understanding can foster a perspective of empathy and comprehension rather than blame towards guardians or parents. Recognising that they, too, likely learned these behaviours from previous generations helps in approaching familial patterns with a sense of understanding and compassion rather than judgment. This approach is crucial for both personal growth and improving relational dynamics.

To develop a secure relationship, individuals with different attachment styles have specific needs. Understanding and working on these specific needs can significantly contribute to the development of more secure and fulfilling relationships.

See if you can recognise your attachment style or that of a close friend or partner. I have included what is needed to form a secure attachment…

Secure Attachment:

Individuals with a secure attachment style generally have healthy, trusting relationships. They are comfortable with intimacy and independence, can express their needs and feelings openly, and are adept at supporting their partners.

- Needs: Continuation of honest, open communication and mutual respect. Maintaining a balance between intimacy and independence is key. It's also important to continue nurturing the relationship through shared experiences and emotional support.


 Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment:

These individuals may be overly dependent on their partners for reassurance and may struggle with insecurity in relationships. They often worry about their partner's love and commitment and can become clingy or demanding.

   - Needs: Consistent reassurance and understanding from their partner. They may benefit from developing personal coping strategies for managing insecurities and anxiety. Building self-esteem and practising self-reliance can also help in reducing over-dependency on partners.


Avoidant Attachment (Dismissive-Avoidant and Fearful-Avoidant):

Adults with dismissive-avoidant attachment often distance themselves emotionally from their partners. They may prioritise independence over intimacy and struggle with deep emotional connections. Those with fearful-avoidant attachment desire closeness but fear getting hurt, leading to a push-pull dynamic in relationships.

-Needs for Dismissive-Avoidant: Gradual opening up to emotional intimacy, recognising the value of close relationships while maintaining a sense of independence. Therapy or counselling can be helpful in addressing fears related to intimacy.

   - Needs for Fearful-Avoidant: Safe spaces for expressing emotions and confronting fears about closeness and abandonment. Therapy might be beneficial in understanding and breaking the cycle of pushing away and craving closeness.

Disorganised Attachment:

Individuals with a disorganised attachment may display erratic behaviours and struggle with maintaining stable relationships. They often have difficulty trusting others and may exhibit a mix of avoidant and anxious behaviours.

-Needs: Consistent and predictable interactions to build trust. Support in recognising and managing erratic behaviours and developing healthier relationship patterns. Professional therapy is often crucial in addressing underlying issues from past traumas and building stable relationship skills.


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