Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the different adult attachment styles?
An adult attachment style, or “pattern of attachment” is believed to be developed in early childhood. Three adult attachment styles include anxious-avoidant attachment, secure attachment type, and insecure attachment types.
A fourth attachment style is an attachment theory is based on the idea that early attachment (attachment status in the preschool years) to our primary attachment figure can affect our perception of attachment and loss for the rest of our lives. It is believed that a child's attachment style is the same general attachment style they will have as adults.
According to attachment research, attached infants show more security in their self-perception as children and develop more secure attachment patterns as adults.
The difference in the types of attachment are highlighted below:
Secure attachment types
Securely attached infants show more autonomous behaviors and higher levels of self-confidence in their adult lives. People with securely attached styles develop a healthy attachment to the attachment figure and start out as securely attached infants. Secure attachment – securely attached adults tend to be the “norm.” All of the other individual differences in attachment styles describe different forms of insecure attachment representations.
Avoidant attachment typesPeople who develop avoidant attachment in childhood do so as a result of forming insecure attachments with their primary attachment figure. Avoidant attachment behaviors show up as dismissive and disinterest in the primary attachment figure earlier in life. Later in life, the avoidant type will repeat this dismissive behavior pattern in other close relationships. Adults with avoidant attachment tend to pursue the “perks” of relationships without engaging in full commitment.
Anxious attachment types
Adults and children with anxious attachment types are often preoccupied and worried. This is one of the more common attachment styles among young people whose parents also have this general attachment style. Much like the avoidant type - people who experience anxious attachment and feelings of loss related to their primary attachment figure - anxious-avoidant types will carry the emotions from this primary attachment and loss into their adult lives and relationships resulting in anxious adult romantic attachments.
Disorganized attachment types
Infants and children who develop a disorganized attachment style to their primary attachment figure may demonstrate a combination of all of the other attachment styles. Gender has very little to do with psychology attachment security related to the attachment figure. Insecure attachment styles result in a distance from the attachment figure due to issues of trust and safety. Disorganized attached adults tend to act as though they can “take or leave” relationships – though they may seem happier in relationships and be more volatile when relationships don’t workout. They may seem to cycle in between secure attachments and avoidant attachments.
What does patterns of attachment mean?
Patterns of attachment explain that people develop relationship styles as adults based on early childhood patterns of attachment. We are said to begin practicing learned attachment in the preschool years when we start to engage with people outside of our families. According to attachment theory, our primary attachment styles secure themselves in place in early infancy and childhood.
When it comes to the different patterns of attachment and the origins of attachment theory, people with securely attached children normally see these securely attached children grow into securely attached adults. As a result, people with secure attachment styles are likely to feel more confident in themselves and their environment. Attachment theory operates based on the premise that securely attached infants (and securely attached children) become securely attached adults.
Secure types have an air of confidence and assuredness that seems to be lacking in the other attachment styles. People with insecurely attached styles are less confident in themselves and distrustful in their environment. Securely attached infants are believed to fare better as adults. The primary attachment strategy of mental health providers like psychiatrists and therapists is to help people who developed insecure attachments in early childhood learn how to develop more secure attachments.
Ambivalent Attachment style is less commonly discussed. It is similar to anxious attachment. Ambivalent attachments form when a caregiver is seen as unreliable. It could be that they are disinterested in the child’s development, or that they are interested but are not always present. Whatever causes the formation of attachment, adults with an ambivalent pattern of attachment may exhibit absence of attachment in adult relationships. They may be disinterested in forming new relationships but can experience growth of love, sensitivity, and attachment with individuals that they spend great deals of time with.
How do attachment styles develop?
According to attachment research and attachment theory, patterns of attachment and styles of attachment are developed in early childhood. Attachment theory operates under the premise that securely attached children will grow to become securely attached adults. The model of attachment used in attachment theory research is based on attachment style and relationship research conducted using a mother, a stranger, and an infant child.
Attachment theory researched discovered four main attachment styles. The four main attachment styles discovered in attachment theory research and the related model of attachment are 1. Secure, 2. Insecure attachment styles, 3. Avoidant attachment styles and 4. Disorganized attachment styles.
These attachment patterns develop based on the level of security or attachment to the mother. According to attachment theory, securely attached children will likely fare better in the world as adults. Of all the attachment styles, secure types seem to fare the best in adulthood, though Disorganized and avoidant attachment styles in particular can develop later in life through problems with adult relationships.
Attachment strategy attempts to help people like avoidant types, anxious-avoidant types, and other people who have developed negative attachments to their primary attachment figure to develop a secure attachment type that prevented them from being securely attached in early childhood.
Attachment security in infancy can result in securely attached individuals in adulthood. However, the role of attachment can change as a result of the outcomes of adult relationships, as can the sensitivity and attachment styles.
For example, avoidant attachments styles can develop in adults who may have had secure attachments in childhood and had difficult relationship experiences later in life.
Can you change your attachment style in adulthood?
Psychology experts believe that securely attached people seem to do better in life. However, not everyone was able to securely attach to their primary attachment figure in early childhood. The good news is that people who developed an insecure attachment to their primary attachment figure in early childhood have options for change.
Attachment theory tells us that changing one's attachment style in adulthood is possible. You can learn to change insecure patterns of attachment and develop a secure attachment style by getting professional help from a licensed therapist. A therapist can help you learn more about the origins of attachment theory and the four forms of attachment.
These four attachment styles (created by our experiences with our primary attachment figure) set the stage for how our emotional attachment and relationship bonds will form over time. Talking to a mental health professional can help you discover how your attachment styles affect your life. In attachment-based therapy, you can learn how attachment in childhood is still affecting you today. You and your therapist can work together to create an attachment strategy that will help you develop a secure attachment style -- in spite of your past attachment behaviors.
Changing your attachment styles is possible once you begin to understand the differences in attachment styles and the security of attachment. Adult attachment styles including anxious-avoidant attachment, avoidant attachment types, and insecure attachment styles can be adjusted using a customized attachment strategy based on the concepts used in attachment theory. Mindfulness and non attachment techniques can also be used to help adults with unhealthy attachment styles.
Unfortunately, the door swings both ways – so to speak. Children who developed secure attachments can develop other attachment styles, such as avoidant attachment styles, if they have difficult relationship experiences later in life without the support networks to work through their emotions and experiences in a healthy way.
What are examples of attachment behaviors?
When it comes to attachment security and the primary attachment figure, securely attached infants show a preference for their attachment figure. Secure types show earlier independence and more self-confidence when it comes to exploring their environment. In contrast, insecurely attached children are less confident and less and more dismissive in their behavior when engaging with others and their environment.
The differences in attachment styles are reflected in the differences in self-confidence levels and behaviors of the children in the study. Anxious-avoidant attached infants are indifferent to the presence of their attachment figure or a stranger.
Insecurely attached infants may show disdain or disinterest in the attachment figure. As a result of this negative infant attachment experience, these behaviors will likely carry over into childhood and subsequently adulthood. If you have issues with relationships related to an insecure infant attachment, talking to a licensed therapy provider can help.
What is an attachment figure?
An attachment figure is an early caregiver that serves as the foundation for a child's attachment. It is believed that attachment figures have a lasting impact on our lives. Contact with the attachment figure in attachment research primarily focuses on the child's attachment to the mother. However, if no mother was present (or if the mother wasn't the primary attachment figure) attachment theory and the child's attachment patterns are looked at in relation to the caregiver that was present.
Attachment figures are believed to play a large role in whether children develop secure attachments. A child's attachment styles are formed in response to the attention and care provided by the attachment figure. People with secure attachment styles received more love, support, attention, and care from the attachment figure than avoidant types or insecure types of attachment styles. Children whose safety needs were only met intermittently (resulting in limited contact with the attachment figure) will likely develop an avoidant type of anxious avoidant attachment style.
In order for a child to develop a secure attachment to the primary attachment figure, the child needs to feel safe and . Attachment styles are formed based on the level of safety and security the infant feels in relation to the mother or other attachment figure.
What are the 4 types of attachment?
The 4 types of attachment are secure, avoidant, anxious, and disorganized, although some sources change the names around a little bit. Secure attachment is the proper attachment that should occur between parent child during child development. Avoidant refers to when a child acts like they don’t need their parent’s help. Anxious children will be anxious whether their parents are around or not. Those affected with disorganized attachment may act either way, and this is thought to be a result of their parents not acting the same way towards them at all times or neglecting their needs. On occasion, disorganized attachment may be referred to as anxious and avoidant attachment.
How many types of attachment are there?
There are thought to be 4 types of attachment. Working models of styles of attachment have been tested many times, through theory and research. Mary Ainsworth used something called the strange situation principle to look at children and how they were attached to their parents. She noted that there are at least 3 different types of attachment, but there are thought to be variants to some of them. This strange situation research, which was conducted in the United States, was important to research regarding the attachment theory.
What are the 5 connection styles?
There are only thought to be 4 adult attachment styles, not 5 connection styles. These include secure, anxious preoccupied, dismissive, and fearful. Secure attachment happens when someone has a great deal of self-esteem and can maintain positive relationships with others. Anxious preoccupied means a person doesn’t have a good sense of self but holds others in high regard. With dismissive, someone may have relationship problems because they think highly of themselves but don’t want to get close to others. Fearful occurs when you can’t get a read on how someone is going to act or behave. They may act one way and then act another way soon after. For instance, they may feel comfortable in intimate relationships one day and the next day refuse to be in an adult romantic relationship.
What are the 3 types of attachment?
The three types of attachment that are the most talked about types are secure, anxious, and avoidance. Secure attachment will translate into positive romantic relationships when it comes to adult attachment. Anxiously attached behavior means a person depends on their partner to make them whole. If they feel like their partner isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, this may lead to them become irritable or jealous. Avoidant attached individuals stay away from romantic relationships as a whole. They may feel that they can’t rely on other people.
Can a child be too attached to their mother?
A child is not able to be too attached to its mother. During childhood and adolescence, if they have a secure attachment to their mom, they will likely depend on her for emotional support, which is to be expected. This early attachment is necessary and provides a secure base for a child to become emotionally close to the people that are caring for him or her.
What is it called when a son is obsessed with his mother?
When a son is obsessed with his mother, this is known as the Oedipus Complex. At this stage of development, a child may become attached to the opposite sex parent and not care for the other parent. This theory was presented by Sigmund Freud. This doesn’t relate to social psychology as much as attachment theory and research and many experts don’t agree with his analysis.
Why are toddlers so attached to their mothers?
A toddler that is attached to its mother has likely formed a secure early attachment to their mother, which is why they are fond of them. They have an emotional closeness with their parent, where they count on them for support and to have their needs met. Again, these principles were tested with the strange situation technique, to see how children with different attachment styles behaved toward their mothers.
Why does my child only want Mommy?
When your child only wants mommy, this may be due to the fact that they have developed a secure attachment to their mother. This is positive attachment behavior, since children need to be able to count on their parents and trust that they will take care of them. Theory and research suggest that children that can count on their parents will be more likely to have adult romantic relationships and will be able to get emotionally close to others. There are some articles that you can research with more information about internal working models and romantic love conceptualized as an attachment, if you are interested in learning more about proper attachment in children. You may also want to check out the term strange situation to learn more.
What is negative attachment?
Negative attachment is not a term that is used, but this may refer to insecure attachment, which is an attachment where a child did not develop a secure attachment to their parents. When this happens, it can affect children well into their adult years. Insecure attachment can keep children from being able to become emotionally close to others, even as an adult. When it isn’t addressed, a child may have an issue with adult attachment, which is likely to affect romantic love and all types of relationships.
What are the three types of insecure attachment?
The three types of insecure attachment are disorganized, anxious preoccupied, and ambivalent attachment styles. With disorganized, a child may behave in either type of insecure attachment. It is hard to determine what they will do from one situation to the next. Those with anxious preoccupied attachment tend to want to have romantic love, but don’t feel like they are properly being treated in relationships. This can lead to their partners feeling like they need space. Ambivalent attachment causes people to expect the worst to happen, even if things are going good in a relationship. People with ambivalent attachment will also be dependent on their partners and may need to be reassured on a regular basis.
Which two types of attachment are most stable?
Secure attachment is the most ideal type of attachment that can be experienced by an infant. It means that they have the support they need as a baby and their needs are met regularly. This leads to secure adult attachment, which is beneficial in terms of getting the proper social support and working relationships as an adult. Another type of attachment and whether it is stable or not would be up for debate. The other types of attachment styles are considered to be insecure, as in an infant did not benefit from proper attachment to their parents. You can do further research into social psychology as well as attachment theory and research to figure out other attachment styles that may be considered stable.
What is emotional attachment?
An emotional attachment is when you feel connected to a person, thing, or idea. You can become emotionally attached to many things, but that doesn’t mean that these things are beneficial to you. You still need social support to have an internal working model of what a relationship looks like.
What does insecure attachment look like?
An insecure adult attachment may look similar to an infant insecure attachment, depending on the type. For example, if an adult is affected by ambivalent attachment, they may be anxious most of the time. They may also be viewed as needing a lot of emotional support in a relationship. This might make people feel uncomfortable in a relationship.
What are the signs of attachment disorder in adults?
Signs of attachment disorder in adults include problems when it comes to control, anger, impulses, and trust. Additionally, people feel like they don’t belong, they are unable to be affectionate, and have trouble in all types of relationships. Theory and research on the subject indicate that therapy is needed to move past this type of disorder, regardless of age.
What are the symptoms of attachment disorder?
The symptoms of attachment disorder are the same as signs of attachment disorder. Other symptoms include being resistant to people loving them, detaching themselves from situations, and feeling empty.
Do avoidant partners cheat?
It is possible that an avoidant partner will cheat. This means that if someone exhibits an avoidant adult attachment style, they may cheat, which might be used as a coping strategy to themselves from getting hurt or from others becoming emotionally close to them. Attachment theory and research has looked into all types of adult attachment, to see how people act as adults when they have not gotten treatment for possible attachment issues developed as children. This is how they know how avoidant partners may react in certain adult romantic relationships.
How do I know if I have attachment issues?
You may be able to tell that you have attachment issues if you have symptoms of reactive attachment disorder. Some symptoms include having problems with anger, control, not trusting, not feeling like you belong, or avoiding having connections with others. If you have any of these symptoms, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, you may have attachment issues. When you feel that you have attachment issues that were a result of your upbringing, you should learn more about social psychology and adult attachment. Then you may be able to determine for yourself if you need to reach out to a therapist for help. Whenever a child doesn’t develop secure attachment with their caregivers, this can translate to insecure attachment in adults, especially if it has largely been ignored.
What are some attachment disorders?
There are two types of attachment disorders that someone may be affected by. One is reactive attachment disorder, which happens during child development when a child is unable to bond with a parent in the way that they should be able to. They were unable to get security in infancy that was required for them to have a secure attachment to their mother. The other type of attachment disorder is Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder, which occurs when a child starts to feel comfortable talking to or hugging strangers. Either attachment disorder will need the proper treatment to be alleviated. Otherwise, they may lead to adult attachment issues, including problems in romantic relationships, fear of intimacy, or other adult romantic issues.
How do you break an attachment?
Generally speaking, if you want to break an attachment to someone, you will have to work on it. You may also need a support system and therapy to do so. If you are trying to break an insecure attachment from childhood, this could require clinical applications to assist you in the process.
What are insecure attachments?
Insecure attachment refers to when a child was unable to form attachments with their parents. There are 3 types of insecure attachments, which are avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized. Avoidant means that a child behaves in an avoidant manner towards their caregivers. Ambivalent attachment describes when a child feels they are unable to trust in their parents, which can leave them feeling anxious. Disorganized happens when parents ignore their child’s needs. This can lead to children having behavioral problems and becoming frazzled.