4 Attachment Styles and How They Impact Your Adult Relationships

attachment styles Posted On
Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

People often reflect on past relationships and wonder why they didn’t last. Whether you’re thinking about people who broke your heart romantically or were once close friends, your attachment style likely greatly influenced the overall connection you shared.

These are the most common attachment issues in relationships and how those styles form. Figuring out which kind of attachment you mostly create with people will help you nurture healthier lasting relationships in the future.

What Are Attachment Styles?

attachment styles

John Bowlby was a psychologist who created the attachment theory – or the idea that people end up with different relationship styles depending on their personality and upbringing. Although modern psychologists argue that fear and the desire for safety play more of a significant role, people still develop these attachment styles unconsciously.

They can also form more than one style in a relationship. The key to learning about these topics is to keep in mind that the styles will point out unhealthy behaviors and guide people in making better decisions regarding those they love.

What Are the Four Attachment Styles?

attachment styles

People form four types of styles that can lead to attachment issues in relationships. These are the types proposed by Bowlby that are still relevant to psychologists and sociologists today.

1. Avoidant Attachment

Avoidant attachments are sometimes also called dismissive attachments. You may lean more toward this style if you call yourself a “lone wolf.” You’re great at doing things by yourself. Independence is preferable to you than dependence in relationships because you’re more self-sufficient than other people you know.

However, avoidant relationships often feel incomplete. Emotional bonds struggle to develop because dismissive-style individuals don’t want to depend on others and risk someone not meeting their emotional needs. You may choose to hide your true feelings or bottle them up until relationships become explosively toxic.

2. Anxious Attachment

When young kids feel nervous about how their parents may emotionally respond at any given point, they often develop anxious attachment styles in adulthood because they don’t trust the emotional state of their friends or romantic connections. It can lead to extreme self-doubt, an overwhelming need for approval, and continual reassurance from partners that they’re “all in.”

You may often form this style if someone has ever pointed out clingy behaviors or instances where you demanded their attention. An intense fear of abandonment may be behind these habits and drive people away unintentionally.

3. Secure Attachment

After reading about anxious or avoidant attachments, people often think that relationship styles are all bad. The good news is that secure attachments are the ultimate way to create healthy bonds.

The first sign of this relationship style is when someone can comfortably express or show their emotions. You’re not afraid to describe things like anger, fear, sadness, or irritation because they don’t feel like weaknesses. You also don’t fear anyone who has a relationship with you or seek their approval for your self-esteem. Your sense of independence and confidence is strong, while your relationships add joy outside of those things.

4. Disorganized Attachment

Anyone with frequent disorganized attachments wants emotional intimacy and strong bonds with people, but they get scared when those opportunities arise. The fear comes from a rooted uncertainty about how someone will respond to your needs, even when you may have known that person for a long time.

The back-and-forth mental leaps between trusting and fearing someone leads to unstable relationships. You may never form strong emotional attachments with the people you love and might feel distant from them. You might also struggle with revealing your emotions to avoid potentially getting hurt.

Are Attachment Styles Bad?

attachment styles

Not all attachment styles are “wrong” and none of them are hopeless. Although three present challenges to overcome, you can learn how to make secure attachments and enjoy healthier relationships.

All you need to do is reflect on past and current relationships, determine which attachments you’re most likely to form, and reverse unhealthy habits like hiding emotions or distrusting those you love.

What Causes the Four Attachment Styles?

attachment styles

Psychologists say that people learn to form attachment styles as young as infancy. Parental figures are the first people who demonstrate how relationships work even when babies can’t communicate with words.

Neglect, yelling, and constant crude comments make kids doubt themselves and others. Parents who never emotionally satisfy their children with words of love and support can also start the cycle of unhealthy attachments.

Those relationship standards may become reinforced as a child grows up if they repeatedly run into individuals who manipulate or abuse them in friendships or work relationships.

Learn More About Attachment Issues in Relationships

attachment styles

Now that you’ve read about attachment styles, consider which types are most relevant to your life. No matter what you struggle with in relationships, you can work through bad habits and mindsets to form secure attachments in platonic and romantic connections. Spend time working on these things to develop the healthy bonds you need to enjoy life fully.

Author bio Beth Rush:

Beth is the Managing Editor at BodyMind.com. She is a well-respected writer in the personal wellness space and shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to fitness, holistic health, nutrition, and disease prevention. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness trends and cooking healthy recipes.

Interesting Facts about Attachment Styles

couple sunset
Secure attachment is the only healthy attachment style

What is the healthiest attachment style?

The only positive and long-lasting attachment style that suits all types of relationships is secure attachment. It is the ultimate way to create healthy bonds. Your sense of independence and confidence is strong, while your relationship adds joy outside of those things.

What kind of attachment style do narcissists have?

Narcissists have avoidant an attachment style, they always keep a distance in relationships and make it very clear that they absolutely don’t need the other person.

Are avoidant persons narcissistic?

Not all avoidant persons have a sense of superiority like narcissists. They can also be self-centered like perfectionists or insecure like introverts.


Kirkpatrick L.A. & Hazan C. (1994). Attachment styles and close relationships: A four-year prospective study.

Columbia University: How Attachment Styles Influence Romantic Relationships

Attachment Styles & Their Role in Relationships

How Attachment Styles Affect Adult Relationships

Here Is How to Identify Your Attachment Style

Related Post