Hidden in Relationships: Attachment Styles

Have you ever felt an imbalance in your relationship? Or find yourself constantly anxious and insecure in relationships? A possible reason for this may be your attachment style. 

If you’ve read our blog on schema therapy , you may remember that our childhood experiences can have a significant impact on our emotional response to situations in adulthood. This is the same for attachment styles, where one’s caretaker’s ability to provide enough care and nourishment affects the child’s feelings of security or insecurity. For example, a child who had a caretaker who provided them with sufficient care and love when needed may develop a secure attachment style. As opposed to a child who may have been emotionally neglected may grow up to become more anxious and insecure. With these feelings manifesting into attachment styles in adulthood. 

So what are these attachment styles that we speak of? There are four main ones and they can all affect relationships in different ways: 

1. Secure attachment:

This is the attachment style that is most ideal and is developed from a childhood of sufficient affection. People who have this attachment style are more comfortable with developing close or intimate relationships and can develop mutual trust. They are able to be comfortable with another person without any excessive validation, approval or attention from their partner and still be satisfied by themselves and their relationship.

A perfect example of someone who has a secure attachment style is someone you may be familiar with! She is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter franchise, a character who has been able to project the love and support from her parents into your romantic relationships with confidence and ease.


2. Anxious – preoccupied Insecure attachment:

Don’t worry if this attachment style sounds like a mouthful, people who have this attachment style is generally those who are insecure and require approval, attention and validation from their partner to compensate for this. Often resulting in overreliance on their partner due to their lack of self-confidence and self worth.

A movie character you can look to as an example can be Bridget Jones from the classic romantic comedy Bridget Jones’ Diary.


3. Dismissive – avoidant insecure attachment:

This type of attachment style falls on the other side of the spectrum. These are people who place the band aid of independence and self sufficiency over their insecurities. Seeing intimate relationships as unnecessary and unimportant in order to create compensate for their insecurities and convince themselves that they are strong and independent.

You may not have noticed it while you were enjoying the movie, but Elsa from the Disney animation Frozen is a character that displays this attachment style. You may have wondered why she put up a constant facade to keep her sister shut out from her emotionally and physically. Well, now you know!

4. Fearful – avoidant insecure attachment:

This last attachment style is another one that involves one’s feeling of insecurity. These are people whose insecurities and feelings of unworthiness manifest into fear of asking too much, being used, or misled in relationships. Are they just using me? Will they see me as needy? These may be questions a person with this attachment style will constantly ask themselves while in a relationship. 

Raj Koothrapali from the Big Bang Theory is a prime example of a character with this attachment style, with his insecurity manifesting in his inability to even speak to a female! 


So how will this affect my relationship you ask? 

Having an unhealthy attachment style may affect your relationships as you may be trying to constantly compensate for your insecurities. This may cause an imbalance in your relationship due to either over-dependence that can lead to suspicion and mistrust. Or the opposite that you have a hard time to actually commit to a relationship and your partner has a hard time to truly connect with you. 

If you find yourself resembling one of those insecure attachment styles described above, here are a few ways to help you strive towards a more healthy and secure attachment style. 

1.) Become aware of your attachment style. By becoming more self aware, you may understand your emotions more and be able to begin restructuring your thoughts. 

2.) Motivating yourself to strive towards a more secure attachment style. Understand that having a secure attachment style can improve your overall self esteem and self worth, increase optimism and allow you to form strong and secure relationships! 

3.) Opening up to a trusted person or partner can also help you to work towards this. You do not have to go through this alone!

4.) And finally, you can always consult your local or online therapist for any professional help. This may just be the start you need. 


One small step towards improving yourself, one giant leap towards a brighter future. 



Written by Beatrice Sung & Supervised by Dr. Julia Andre.

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