What are attachment styles and how are they learned? Creating connection through learning your attachment style!

Attachment styles are learned behaviors and stem from psychological research on caregiving, childhood attachments, and how these styles develop into adult attachment with loved ones including peers, parents, partners, co-workers, and children. Attachment styles can impact any interpersonal relationship based on the psychology of needs being met, neglected, overlyprotective, or the “parentified” child. Below are descriptors of the four styles of attachment, which one is most resonating to you?


Autonomous (Secure) Attachment:


Comfortable in a warm, loving and emotionally close relationship.
Depends on partner and allows partner to depend on them; is available for partner in times of need.
Accepts partner’s need for separateness without feeling rejected or threatened; can be close and also independent (“dependent–independent”).
Trusting, empathic, tolerant of differences, and forgiving.
Communicates emotions and needs honestly and openly; attuned to partner’s needs and responds appropriately; does not avoid conflict.
Manages emotions well; not overly upset about relationship issues.
Insight, resolution and forgiveness about past relationship issues and hurts.
Sensitive, warm and caring parent; attuned to child’s cues and needs; children are securely attached.

Dismissive (Avoidant) Attachment:


Emotionally distant and rejecting in an intimate relationship; keeps partner at arm’s length; partner always wanting more closeness; ” “deactivates” attachment needs, feelings and behaviors.
Equates intimacy with loss of independence; prefers autonomy to togetherness.
Not able to depend on partner or allow partner to “lean on” them; independence is a priority.
Communication is intellectual, not comfortable talking about emotions; avoids conflict, then explodes.
Cool, controlled, stoic; compulsively self-sufficient
Good in a crisis; non-emotional, takes charge.
When pressured, “deactivates”. 
Need’s TIME and OPPORTUNITY to attach and trust/attain closeness.
Emotionally unavailable as parent; disengaged and detached; children are likely to have avoidant attachments.

Preoccupied (Anxious) Attachment:


Insecure in intimate relationships; constantly worried about rejection and abandonment; preoccupied with relationship; “hyperactivates” attachment needs and behavior.
Needy; requires ongoing reassurance; want to “merge” with partner, which scares partner away.
Ruminates about unresolved past issues from family-of-origin, which intrudes into present perceptions and relationships (fear, hurt, anger, rejection).
Overly sensitive to partner’s actions and moods; takes partner’s behavior too personally.
Highly emotional; can be argumentative, combative, angry and controlling; poor personal boundaries.
Communication is not collaborative; unaware of own responsibility in relationship issues; blames others. Or, owns responsibility and uses this as leverage to state, “Look, I was honest with you, I could have lied” to be perceived in a favorable light.
Unpredictable and moody; connects through conflict, “stirs the pot.”

Unresolved (Disorganized) Attachment:


Unresolved mindset and emotions; frightened by memories of prior traumas; losses from the past have not been not mourned or resolved.
Cannot tolerate emotional closeness in a relationship; argumentative, rages, unable to regulate emotions; abusive and dysfunctional relationships recreate past patterns.
Intrusive and frightening traumatic memories and triggers; dissociates to avoid pain; severe depression, PTSD.
Antisocial; lack of empathy and remorse; aggressive and punitive; narcissistic, no regard for rules; substance abuse and criminality.
Likely to maltreat own children; scripts children into past unresolved attachments; triggered into anger and fear by parent–child interaction; own children often develop disorganized attachment.


Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)


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Tampa, FL 33609

(813) 563-1155

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