Attachment Styles: What are the Different Ways that People Attach to One Another

Understanding Our Attachment Styles

Attachment Styles

What are the Different Ways that People Attach to One Another

Attachment styles have become somewhat of a buzzword, and for good reason. The way we connect with others and the way we stay connected is an integral part of being human. These attachments styles have so much to do with our first 7 years in life and the ways that our caregivers loved and cared for us. In this Module we will explore the different attachment styles and ways that these play out. I invite you to honestly look at what may resonate for you in the next section of this module. Once we are able to recognize our patterns that are playing out subconsciously in our lives, we are able also, to move beyond and through those. Knowledge is power and self-empowerment is the name of the game.

Basically, people can fall into three main attachment styles. AnxiousAvoidant and Secure. There is a fourth style too that we will just touch on briefly: Disorganized.

In the next section we will look closer at how these attachment styles are created and ways of giving ourselves as adults, the nurturing needing to move into a Secure Attachment style. Feeling secure in the way we connect with others will help to bring more harmonious and balanced relationships and friendships into our lives.

What is also true is that we do not need to be on one side or the other. We can often have different patterns with different people. The important thing is to know ourselves well enough to spot when we are unconsciously acting from our conditioned internal patterning. By recognizing how we relate to others in the world and taking responsibility for our actions, we are able to show up in a more authentic and secure way.

Anxious or Preoccupied Attachment Style

  • Feeling insecure in intimate relationships and constantly worried about rejection and abandonment from another. This can lead to being so preoccupied with the relationship that one constantly thinks of ways to keep the other connected and loving.
  • Feelings of fear, hurt, anger and rejection from unresolved past issues from one's family of origin begin to intrude into present perceptions ofone's relationship with a core belief that "it will happen again".
  • Requiring constant and ongoing reassurance from one's partner that becomes interpreted by another as being needy. There can be a desire to "merge" with the other that can in turn scare a partner away.
  • Becoming highly emotional, argumentative, combative, angry and controlling with poor personal boundaries.
  • One's moods become unpredictable with a predisposition of connecting through conflict or "stirring the pot" to get a reaction.
  • Taking a partner's behavior too personally and becoming overly sensitive to another's moods and actions.
  • Continuously blaming others and unaware of one's own responsibility within issues that arise in the relationship. The communication is not collaborative but one sided and rigid.
  • Inconsistent attunement with one's own children, who are likely to be anxiously attached.

Avoidant, Dismissive or Ambivalent Attachment Style

  • In intimate relationships one becomes emotionally distant and rejecting of their partner or situations that bring closeness as the relationship develops often finding faults in the other. One wants to keep their partner at a distance with a partner often pushing for more closeness. There can be a justification to not needing closeness with feelings and behaviors being acted out to push another away.
  • It is uncomfortable to speak about emotions so communication is kept intellectual and without heart. One may avoid conflict or healthy communication at all costs and then explode with anger further justifying the blockage in connection.
  • There can be the idea that closer intimacy brings a loss of independence and so one prefers autonomy to togetherness.
  • Independence becomes the priority where a person refuses to depend on the other and with rigid boundaries, will not allow their partner to lean on them.
  • In a crisis, a person with this attachment style remains non-emotional,
  • taking charge and handling situations well, without emotion.
  • This style of attachment often brings a preference to being alone with one staying cool, controlled, stoic and compulsively self-sufficient with a narrow emotional range.
  • As a parent, emotionally unavailable, disengaged and detached. Children of one with this attachment style are likely to also have avoidant attachments.

Secure Attachment Style

  • A loving and emotionally close relationship feels safe and comfortable.
  • In a secure attachment pattern, one is tolerant of differences, forgiving, trusting, and empathic.
  • Communication comes easily where one is able to express their needs
  • honestly and openly. They are attuned to their partners needs and
  • respond appropriately while not avoiding conflict.
  • One is available for their partner in times of need and not afraid to depend on another and be dependable themselves.
  • Is accepting of and doesn't feel rejected or threatened when their partner needs time alone and are okay with being independent from their partner while still feeling close.
  • Past relationship issues and hurts have brought insight to a person with a secure attachment style where resolution and forgiveness have been attained.
  • One is balanced emotionally and does not become overly upset about relationship issues.
  • Children of a securely attached person are also securely attached. This person is attuned to their child's cues and needs and a sensitive, warm and caring parent.

Disorganized or Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Style

  • Emotional closeness in a relationship is unbearable resulting in an inability to regulate emotions with a quickness to become argumentative and full of rage. Past patterns are recreated through abusive and dysfunctional relationships.
  • The losses one has experienced from the past have not been not mourned or resolved and one is still very frightened by the memories of prior traumas which causes emotional upsets.
  • One may experience severe depression and symptoms of PTSD with dissociative habits to avoid feeling pain. Frightening, traumatic memories are intrusive and easily triggered.
  • One's own children may develop a disorganized attachment style as they are likely to mistreat them. They can quickly become triggered into anger in their interactions with their children projecting their own abuses they experienced in childhood.
  • Narcissistic with antisocial behavior and a lack of empathy and remorse for others. One experiencing this attachment style can be aggressive and punitive with no regard for rules, sometimes leading to substance abuse and even criminality.

Our attachment patterns begin in childhood and are passed down from one generation to the next. Children learn how to connect from parents and caregivers, and they in turn teach the next generation. Your attachment history plays a crucial role in determining how you relate in adult romantic relationships, and how you relate to your children. However, it is not what happened to you as a child that matters most — it is how you deal with it. Many people go from victim to overcomer.


If you are currently in a relationship where you are not safe, please contact your local crisis line or someone you trust. If you are in crisis or need someone to talk to immediately, please go to the worldwide crisis line: ​Or if you are in Canada visit:

or call : 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645.

Private individual art therapy and counselling sessions are also available by contacting me at [email protected]

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