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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Praus, MSE, LPCC

Getting to Know Your Attachment Style & How it Can Help You Navigate Your Intimate Relationship

Do you know your adult attachment style?

We love talking about attachment styles and we're bringing a bit of psycho-education to you!

There are 3 main types of attachment styles for adults: secure, anxious and avoidant.

When it comes to romantic relationships, these attachment styles dictate ways in which individuals perceive and respond to intimacy.

The 3 Main Types:

Secure: These individuals are comfortable with intimacy and are typically loving and warm.

Anxious: These individuals crave intimacy. They are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to return love.

Avoidant: These individuals minimize closeness and associate intimacy with a loss of independence.

The fourth category is a combination of anxious and avoidance attachment styles and is less common than the main types.

Signs of a secure attachment style:

  • Feel comfortable with intimacy

  • Not overly worried about your relationship

  • Don't get easily upset over relationship matters

  • Being warm and loving in a relationship comes naturally

  • Effectively communicate your needs and feelings to your partner

  • Able to read your partner's emotional cues and effectively respond

Signs of an anxious attachment style:

  • Difficulties making intentions clear

  • Unrealistic romantic view of relationships

  • Needs to get away or “explodes” during an argument or disagreement

  • Has uncompromising rules

  • Unhappy when not in a relationship

Signs of an avoidance attachment style:

  • Prefers autonomy to an intimate relationship

  • Feels uncomfortable with too much closeness

  • Keeps their partner at arm’s length

  • Tends not to open up to their partner or appears emotionally distant

Levine and Heller highlight the importance of communication to help you choose the right partner and ensure your needs are met in the relationship.

If you have an insecure attachment style, you may find that it’s difficult to adopt effective communication. If you have an anxious attachment style, you might expect your partner to respond negatively or get so over-flooded with emotions that you think in extremes. If you have an avoidant attachment style, you’re probably unaware of how detached you are in your relationship. This makes it difficult for insecure attachment styles to effectively communicate with their partners.

If you are interested in addressing your attachment style and building security in your relationship, adopting effective communication skills is the way to go. This will take some much needed time and an abundance or practice, but it’s totally worth it.

The five principles of effective communication are meant to guide you in building up to a level of communication that will help you feel more comfortable and secure in your relationship.

The Five Principles for Effective Communication:

1. Wear your heart on your sleeve.

  • be genuine and honest about your feelings

2. Focus on your needs.

  • express your needs using verbs such as want, feel and need

3. Be specific.

  • state precisely what is bothering you

4. Don’t blame.

  • do not make your partner feel inadequate, incompetent or selfish

5. Be assertive and non apologetic.

  • your relationship needs are valid and essential for your happiness

If you’re interested in learning more about these principles and how to implement them, we suggest checking out the book Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller.

We love talking about attachment styles in our sessions with clients. Why? Because attachment is so prevalent in our everyday relationships and is inherently connected to our overall wellbeing.

If you’re interested in incorporating your attachment style into your therapeutic work, don’t be afraid to bring it up in therapy or ask for a great book recommendation.

Resources to Learn More About Adult Attachment Styles:

Book: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

If you’re dating, interested in dating or wanting to learn more about navigating relationships, we highly recommend Attached to discover and explore you (and your partner or potential partner's) attachment style, how this impacts your relationships and learn some tips on how to work through the challenges.

This video explains attachment patterns in adult intimate relationships and how these are guided by emotional bonds formed in childhood.

If you’re interested in finding out what your attachment style is, I recommend either quiz in the link above.

Let us know if you check out these resources. We'd love to hear from you!

-PGH Team

Source: Attached. The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A

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