John Bowlby is a British psychologist who was one of the first attachment theorists. Bowlby was known for his work analyzing separation anxiety and attachment between infants and their primary caregivers. Bowlby proposed that attachment was derived from children needing parents for nourishment and feeding. Though its roots are due to evolutionary processes that increase the chances of survival; attachment has an emotional component. The “Strange Situation” study by psychologist Mary Ainsworth and Harry Harlow’s Maternal Deprivation study added to Bowlby’s original work helping us to further understand that the types of attachments formed to primary caregivers during early stages of development can impact interpersonal relationships later in life.
4 Common Adult Attachment Styles
- Anxious Attachment styles can include a preoccupation with the loved one, a need for reassurance, responsiveness, and a fear of abandonment.
- Avoidant Attachment styles appear to want to be alone, enjoy independence, and may avoid emotional bonds.
- Disorganized Attachment characteristics include seeking emotional closeness and connection but having a hard time trusting.
- Secure Attachment styles are able to express emotions, and enjoy emotional connections but can also provide healthy spaces for themselves and their partners to have their own interests.
Characteristics of Secure Attachment Styles Can be Learned
The first three attachment styles can be grouped together to be characterized as insecure attachments. Those who have secure attachment styles thrive in their relationships without fearing vulnerability, set healthy boundaries, can regulate emotions during conflicts, and communicate in a healthy way. While we know that insecure attachments can be formed due to unhealthy caregiver-child relationships, it is important to know that the characteristics of a secure attachment; while not easy, can be learned. If you would like some support developing the characteristics of a secure attachment style, contact one of our practitioners.
What Comes Next?
You’ve read the blogs, tips, and posts with catchy ideas. You’re taking the steps and making progress, but you crave more. You want answers about why habits have formed in your life and how you can take steps to ensure they don’t take hold again.
Mariah Dookie is a licensed professional counselor and trauma-informed practitioner. She specializes in anxiety, stress management, body image issues, and perfectionism in adults.
We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!