Have you ever been called clingy in a relationship or found yourself afraid to make a commitment in a relationship? Attachment style may be a significant factor impacting your relationship. Attachment styles were first identified and further researched by a psychologist and researcher named John Bowlby in the 1950’s. From Bowlby’s work, four attachment styles were identified: 1. Anxious-ambivalent, 2. Avoidant, 3. Disorganized, and 4. Secure.

Now you may be wondering how these attachment styles are developed and what they all mean. There is a lot of research available on attachment styles and there has been growing research in psychology especially as of late to explore potential relationships between attachment styles and quality of relationships. Our attachment styles are formed when we are very young. As children, we turn to our caretaker to help provide us emotional and physical comfort. Sometimes, parents struggle to provide this to children and some children come from abusive homes where they have poor relationships with their caregivers. Attachment is originally formed in childhood but can change and adapt as we age and form more relationships with other family members, friends, teachers, romantic partners, and other important figures in our lives.

Oftentimes, when an individual has developed an avoidant, anxious-ambivalent, or disorganized attachment style, it may impact his or her ability to form relationships with others. Individuals with these types of attachment styles sometimes have difficulty getting close to others, may feel fearful of making connections, or may fear losing a relationship so they avoid making new attachments. These attachment styles may also act as a motivating factor to form healthier and stronger attachments within relationships which can ultimately help an individual to develop a secure attachment. Why is this important? Well, when individuals have a secure attachment, they tend to have a positive view of themselves and others, tend to be more interdependent, are comfortable with closeness and emotional intimacy, are secure and trusting, and have healthy relationship bonds. It’s human nature to seek contact and relationships, as well as to seek love, support, and comfort in others. If you have noticed a pattern of unhealthy and emotionally challenging behaviors within your romantic relationships, you may benefit from further exploration and self-reflection regarding the way you attach to people in intimate relationships.

Written by Victoria Gabriel, MA, LPC, NCC, CAADC