Attachment Styles Series (Part 2) - Attachment Styles in Adults - Eugene Therapy (2023)

The attachment style we develop as children carries over into our adult years. Children with a secure attachment style are likely to become adults who foster healthy, caring relationships. People who developed other attachment styles as children may have a harder time creating or maintaining relationships as adults. The good news is that being aware of attachment styles in adults—and understanding what may have contributed to developing those styles in childhood—can allow you to foster a secure attachment style in yourself and others.

(Video) Put on Your Attachment Hat & Change your Romantic Attachment Style | Ashley Harvey | TEDxCSU


Those who grew up in homes with a parent who nurtured them emotionally, provided for their basic needs, and was consistently present are likely to have a secure attachment style as adults. Adults with a secure attachment style tend to have a healthy level of self-esteem. They generally feel comfortable sharing their feelings with a partner or trusted friend, and they seek out social support in the forms of friends and family.

(Video) The 4 Main Attachment Styles in Relationships (+ The Attachment Theory)


An avoidant style may be fostered in childhood by a parent who is emotionally distant, but it also has to do with temperament and personality. Whatever the reason, an avoidant attachment style in childhood frequently translates into a dismissive-avoidant attachment style in adulthood. Adults with this attachment style may struggle to form strong relationships because they are subconsciously afraid to make an emotional investment. An underlying belief that their needs will not be met can make it hard for them to become intimate or share thoughts and feelings.

(Video) 8 Signs of an Avoidant Attachment Style


Many people with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style (usually described as an anxious or ambivalent style in childhood) may have experienced inconsistency and unpredictability during their formative years. The worry caused by this can make them appear clingy or possessive, both as children and adults. Adults with this attachment style may worry that their partner doesn’t love them or isn’t committed. This anxiety and the behaviors it engenders can cause their relationships to feel unsatisfying, lead to frequent breakups, and make them particularly upset when a relationship ends.

(Video) How Attachment Style Impacts Adult Relationships


This is the least common type of attachment style, but it can also be the most difficult. Again, while there are many factors that contribute to the development of attachment styles, early childhood influences are often key. A fearful-avoidant style (described as a disorganized style in children) may be caused by abuse, trauma, or erratic behavior from a parent or caregiver. Adults with this attachment style can experience deep confusion and conflicting emotions when it comes to relationships, as they both fear and desire intimacy.

(Video) What Is Your Attachment Style?

The attachment styles we develop in childhood influence our behavior and relationships as adults. It’s important to understand that attachment styles are complicated: they result from a combination of many factors, including personality, life experiences, and early relationships. If you or a loved one has an attachment style that makes relationships difficult, know that there are reasons for this, and that people have the ability to develop a secure attachment style. We’ll discuss how adults can develop a more secure attachment style next month in Part Three of our Attachment Style Series.

(Video) What Your Attachment Style Says About Your Personality


What are the 4 attachment styles of adults? ›

There are four adult attachment styles:

Anxious (also referred to as Preoccupied) Avoidant (also referred to as Dismissive) Disorganized (also referred to as Fearful-Avoidant) Secure.

What is the hardest attachment style to treat? ›

Most attachment specialists believe that the disorganized attachment style is the most difficult of the three insecure attachment styles to treat because it incorporates both the anxious and the avoidant styles.

What is the most common attachment style in adults? ›

The secure attachment style is the most common type of attachment in western society. Research suggests that around 66% of the US population is securely attached. People who have developed this type of attachment are self-contented, social, warm, and easy to connect to.

What are the different styles of series attachment? ›

There are four basic attachment styles displayed by children: Secure, avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized.

What is the best therapy for attachment disorder in adults? ›

Therapy for attachment issues

Psychodynamic Therapy is better suited to adults, and explores how past relationships with parents or caregivers may influence current relationships, patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior.

Which attachment style is most jealous? ›

Some studies showed that differences in attachment styles seem to influence both the frequency and the patterns of jealousy expression: individuals with the preoccupied or fearful-avoidant attachment styles more often become jealous and consider rivals as more threatening than those with the secure attachment style [9, ...

What attachment style craves intimacy? ›

People with an anxious attachment style are constantly seeking more intimacy and reassurances in their relationships, often coming off as "needy" partners, whereas people with an avoidant attachment style tend to do the opposite and push others away out of a fear of intimacy.

Which attachment style is least likely to cheat? ›

As I pointed out earlier, previous studies on dating couples had showed that the anxiously attached were least likely to be unfaithful and the avoidantly attached the most. Among these married couples, however, the anxiously attached were the most likely to cheat on their partners.

What do Avoidants fear most? ›

High levels of avoidance

They fear closeness to their partners and avoid them because of the possibility of rejection. They don't feel comfortable getting close to others. Avoidant adults worry about being hurt if they allow themselves to become too close to others.

What are signs of attachment issues in adults? ›

Possible symptoms of the disorder in adults include:
  • difficulty reading emotions.
  • resistance to affection.
  • difficulty showing affection.
  • low levels of trust.
  • difficulty maintaining relationships.
  • a negative self-image.
  • anger issues.
  • impulsivity.
Oct 30, 2020

What does attachment trauma look like in adults? ›

As a result of attachment trauma, you might carry beliefs that you are damaged, not lovable, or that you cannot trust anyone. You might have feelings of shame, unworthiness, or helplessness. Perhaps, you feel plagued by anxiety or believe that you don't belong in this world.

Can adults recover from attachment disorder? ›

Although coping with relational trauma can be difficult, it is possible to heal from it. The trauma itself will not go away, but you can learn to deal with it in a healthy way. There are many effective treatments for addressing relational trauma. Finding a trauma-focused therapist is a good start.

What does disorganized attachment look like in adults? ›

Signs of disorganized attachment:

Chaotic, unpredictable, or intense relationship patterns and behaviors. Extreme fear of rejection, coupled with difficulty connecting to and trusting others. Extreme need for closeness, coupled with the tendency to avoid closeness and push others away.

How do I fix my attachment style? ›

How can you fix an anxious attachment style?
  1. Recognizing the signs and understanding attachment theory. ...
  2. Practice learning from others with a secure attachment. ...
  3. Build your self-esteem and, in turn, how to express your needs and emotions authentically. ...
  4. Learn to not react by using self-regulation and mindfulness. ...
  5. Therapy.
Dec 6, 2022

What mental illness is associated with attachment issues? ›

Children who have attachment issues can develop two possible types of disorders: Reactive Attachment Disorder and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder.

How do you fix attachment issues in adults? ›

10 Ways to heal your attachment issues in a relationship
  1. Learn more about attachment styles. ...
  2. Determine what your style is. ...
  3. Know your boundaries and expectations. ...
  4. Talk to your partner. ...
  5. Work with a therapist. ...
  6. Work on yourself. ...
  7. Write down your thoughts. ...
  8. Don't keep to yourself.
Nov 15, 2022

What is the most common attachment disorder? ›

Reactive attachment disorder is most common among children who experience physical or emotional neglect or abuse. While not as common, older children can also develop RAD.

What type of therapy is best for anxious attachment? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of therapy focuses on helping people change the negative automatic thought patterns that contribute to feelings of anxiety in relationships. By learning new ways of thinking, people are able to approach relationships from a more secure and less anxious perspective.

How do you fix avoidant attachment in adults? ›

Four Tips for Adults with Avoidant Attachment to Self Regulate in a Healthy Way
  1. Take personal space when you need it. One thing that probably won't change for an avoidant attacher in a relationship is their need for personal space – and that's OK. ...
  2. Open your communication. ...
  3. Challenge your inner critic. ...
  4. Try therapy.
Jul 30, 2021

What is the best therapy for fearful avoidant attachment? ›

Talk therapy is foundational in helping people learn to cope with and eventually change from a fearful avoidant attachment style. Therapists can identify reasons the person may have adapted this style. They can then work with you to relearn attachment.

Which attachment style is most likely a narcissist? ›

Narcissists have an “avoidant” attachment style and most people who are strongly affected by a narcissist are of the “anxious” attachment style.

What attachment style lies the most? ›

Deception may be used as a way to preserve an individual's independence (Solomon, 1993), in which case those individuals with avoidant attachment styles would be more likely to lie to their partner.

What type of attachment style do narcissists have? ›

Narcissists have insecure attachment styles that are either avoidant or anxious, or some combination. People with insecure attachment styles feel a basic insecurity stemming from relationships with early caregivers.

What attachment style is clingy? ›

Individuals with an anxious attachment style are characterized with: Being clingy. Having an intensely persistent and hypervigilant alertness towards their partner's actions or inactions.

Which attachment style is codependent? ›

Anxious attachment is what is most often referred to as codependent. Those with anxious attachment often feel as though they would like to be close to others or one person in particular but they worry that another person may not want to be close to them. They struggle with feeling inferior, never good enough.

What level of intimacy is the highest form? ›

Level five is the highest level of intimacy. It is the level where we are known at the deepest core of who we are. Because of that, it is the level that requires the greatest amount of trust. If I can't trust that you won't reject me, I'll never be able to share my deepest self with you.

Which attachment style is most likely to divorce? ›

The results indicated that anxious and avoidant attachment styles significantly predicted both history of divorce and single versus partnered relationship status.

Which attachment style causes anxiety? ›

Anxious-ambivalent attachment.

People with anxious attachment are usually needy. They are anxious and have low self-esteem. They want to be close with others but are afraid that people don't want to be with them. As a child, your parents probably were inconsistent.

What attracts Avoidants to anxious? ›

The anxiously attached person craves more connection and closeness and feels triggered by the avoidant person pulling away. Meanwhile the avoidant person feels triggered by the anxious person's desire for closeness because they themselves value their independence and freedom and fear being consumed.

Do Avoidants get lonely? ›

Studies have found that avoidant attachers are less likely to date or seek relationships. In other words, they are more prone to having smaller social circles and, thus, may stay single for longer periods of time. Avoidant attachers are thus more susceptible to social loneliness and isolation.

Why are Avoidants so angry? ›

According to adult attachment experts Phil Shaver and Mario Mikulincer, avoidant partners often react angrily to perceived slights or other threats to their self-esteem, for example, whenever the other person fails to support or affirm their inflated self-image.

Do Avoidants ever feel lonely? ›

People with avoidant attachment styles are more likely to feel alone in their experience of the world, according to new research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. The study also provides evidence that feeling existentially isolated is a distinct phenomenon from loneliness.

What does attachment trauma look like? ›

Attachment trauma may cause a greater susceptibility to stress, difficulty regulating emotions, dependency, impulsive behaviors, social isolation, trouble sleeping, difficulty with attention, and mental illnesses.

What does avoidant attachment look like in adults? ›

Adults with an avoidant-dismissive insecure attachment style are the opposite of those who are ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied. Instead of craving intimacy, they're so wary of closeness they try to avoid emotional connection with others. They'd rather not rely on others, or have others rely on them.

What does unresolved childhood trauma look like in adults? ›

Other manifestations of childhood trauma in adulthood include difficulties with social interaction, multiple health problems, low self-esteem and a lack of direction. Adults with unresolved childhood trauma are more prone to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide and self-harm.

What is emotional detachment disorder in adults? ›

What is it? Emotional detachment is a psychological condition in which a person is not able to fully engage with their feelings or the feelings of others. It can be ongoing, as it is in people with attachment disorders, or it can be a temporary response to an extreme situation.

What causes attachment issues in adults? ›

Attachment disorder symptoms in adults usually present themselves in childhood. Attachment disorders are formal psychiatric disorders that can affect individuals in their adulthood if they did not receive proper treatment as children. Attachment disorders are also linked to childhood trauma, neglect, and abuse.

What do you call someone who gets attached easily? ›

Dependent personality disorder usually starts during childhood or by the age of 29. People with DPD have an overwhelming need to have others take care of them. Often, a person with DPD relies on people close to them for their emotional or physical needs. Others may describe them as needy or clingy.

What are the long term effects of attachment problems? ›

Complications. Without proper treatment, reactive attachment disorder can continue for several years and may have lifelong consequences. These can include problems with relationships, social interactions, mental and physical health, behavior, intellectual development, and substance abuse.

How long does attachment therapy take? ›

That said, most people will feel complete with their work after 1-2 years of weekly therapy to change your attachment style. Even after therapy, you will likely need to work to understand and adjust your behaviors in relationships throughout your lifetime.

Do narcissists have disorganized attachment? ›

A disorganized attachment is the underlying attachment organization that creates narcissistic and borderline personality organizations, and it is considered the most pathological of the three types of insecure attachments.

What attachment style is self sabotage? ›

They self-sabotage

Someone with a fearful avoidant attachment may self-sabotage a good romantic relationship because they are afraid and feel unsafe. They tend to hyperfocus on things that can go wrong in the relationship even if there is nothing to worry about.

Can disorganized attachment fall in love? ›

Adults with a disorganized attachment style want to love and be loved. However, they lean on counterproductive behaviors like: Not letting anyone get too emotionally close to them. Being unwilling or unable to trust others.

What is the hardest attachment style to deal with? ›

Most attachment specialists believe that the disorganized attachment style is the most difficult of the three insecure attachment styles to treat because it incorporates both the anxious and the avoidant styles.

What is the hardest attachment style to change? ›

"Disorganized attachment style is said to be the most difficult of the three insecure attachment styles to treat or change," Feuerman says. But it's important to know that your attachment style can shift over time — you can develop a secure attachment style by changing the way you act and think.

Can attachment be repaired? ›

With time, patience, and concerted effort, attachment disorders can be repaired. The key is to remain calm, yet firm as you interact with your child. This will teach your child that they are safe and can trust you.

How do you rewire anxious attachment? ›

The best thing to do for your relationships is increase your connection to you.
  1. Cope with emotions and use them as data.
  2. Tolerate other people's behaviors.
  3. Choose more supportive environments.
  4. Keep yourself from getting emotionally hijacked.
May 7, 2018

How do you love someone with anxious attachment? ›

7 Helpful Strategies to Support an Anxiously Attached Partner
  1. Communicate. By communicating your thoughts and feelings, over time, anxiously attached individuals can feel more secure in their relationship. ...
  2. Listen Actively. ...
  3. Be Vocal and Clear. ...
  4. Be Consistent. ...
  5. Be Patient. ...
  6. Provide some Reassurance and Attention. ...
  7. Be Expressive.
Mar 5, 2022

Can you repair attachment insecurity? ›

However, someone with an insecure attachment style can learn to change their behaviors and patterns. Working with a therapist can help them develop the skills they need to improve their relationships and build the security they didn't have as a child.

What is the root of attachment issues? ›

Attachment issues typically result from an early separation from parents, lengthy hospitalization, incidents of trauma, instances of neglect, or an otherwise troubled childhood. These issues may have an affect on a child's ability to form healthy, secure attachments later in life.

What is unhealthy attachment behavior? ›

In an unhealthy attachment, one person typically looks to another for emotional support, usually without offering much in return. The partner who consistently provides support without getting what they need may feel drained, resentful, and unsupported.

Do people with anxiety have attachment issues? ›

This fear might also lead them to become desperate, clingy, and preoccupied with their relationships. Adults with an anxious attachment style are often afraid of or even incapable of being alone. They seek intimacy and closeness and are highly emotional and dependent on others.

What is the best treatment for attachment disorder? ›

Treatment strategies include:
  • Encouraging the child's development by being nurturing, responsive and caring.
  • Providing consistent caregivers to encourage a stable attachment for the child.
  • Providing a positive, stimulating and interactive environment for the child.
May 12, 2022

What do the 4 attachment styles mean? ›

There are four attachment styles: anxious (referred to as preoccupied in adults), avoidant (referred to as dismissive in adults), disorganized (referred to as fearful-avoidant in adults), and secure. Attachment styles refer to the particular way in which an individual relates to other people.

What are the 5 different attachment styles? ›

The best we can do as adults is make an effort to understand our own stories and use that information to grow as partners and friends.
  • Secure. What it looks like: A lucky 60 percent of us have a secure attachment style. ...
  • Anxious-preoccupied. ...
  • Dismissive-avoidant. ...
  • Fearful-avoidant. ...
  • Disorganized.
Mar 13, 2020

What attachment style makes you clingy? ›

Individuals with an anxious attachment style are characterized with: Being clingy. Having an intensely persistent and hypervigilant alertness towards their partner's actions or inactions.

What are the 7 stages of attachment? ›

Guest Blog from AC Education: The Seven Steps of Attachment Theory in Children
  • Claiming: birth – two years. ...
  • Attunement: birth – two years. ...
  • Affective attunement: birth – two years. ...
  • Impulse regulation: six months – four years. ...
  • Shame regulation: six months – four years. ...
  • Rage management: six months – four years.
Mar 24, 2016

What is attachment trauma in adults? ›

“Attachment trauma can lead you to withdraw from relationships in order to avoid further rejection or hurt. Or, you might feel overly dependent upon others and fearful of rejection. If you relate to these symptoms, it is important to know that you are not alone. These painful emotions are remnants of your past.” ~Dr.

What mental illness causes attachment issues? ›

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a condition where a child doesn't form healthy emotional bonds with their caretakers (parental figures), often because of emotional neglect or abuse at an early age. Children with RAD have trouble managing their emotions.

Do Avoidants love their partners? ›

Even though someone with avoidant attachment in relationships may avoid expressions of intimacy and affection, and pull back from romantic connections once they start to become too serious, this doesn't mean that they don't love their partner.

What do avoidant adults generally want? ›

Highly self-sufficient. This is the #1 characteristic of someone with a dismissive avoidant attachment style. They don't want to depend on you and they don't want you to depend on them. They want their freedom and independence and want (or at least think that they want) you to be the same way.


1. What Your Attachment Style Says About Your Personality
2. KinnPorsche: Vegas's Psychology [trauma, attachment, ego states]
(Eugene’s Corner)
3. How to Cope With an Avoidant Partner
(The School of Life)
4. How To Connect With People If You Have Anxiety
(Charisma on Command)
5. Attachment Theory in Practice: EFT with Individuals, Couples, & Families - Sue Johnson
(Dr. Sue Johnson)


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