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How Does My Attachment Style Impact My Relationships?


Humans are born with an incredible ability to form attachments, these connections with others are critical to our development, growth, sense of love and self.


In the 1950’s John Bowlby developed a theory on attachment styles that are developed in our early years that can impact our ability to form and maintain relationships. Bowlby stated that attachment could be divided into these 4 types, secure attachment, anxious/preoccupied attachment, avoidant/dismissive attachment and disorganized/dismissive avoidant attachment.


Although relationships are a critical part of everyday life, they often can be complex and difficult to navigate. Everyone can probably reflect and maybe notice that we all tend to have patterns in relationships and this is where sometimes exploring our attachment can benefit our understanding of attachment and connection with others.  


So how do these attachment styles impact us as adults? A secure attachment can often be associated with healthier relationship patterns. A securely attached person will work to communicate through conflict, have healthy expectations and boundaries and are also able to express their emotions. This emotional connection is the essence of a healthy relationship in which they also feel positive towards themselves. 


An anxious/preoccupied attachment can often present as a lot of anxiety to not have the relationship and fear of being alone. The anxiety of the relationship might also look like having a very positive view of the partner and a more negative view on oneself. The fear of abandonment will often cause a lot of self doubt, insecurity and require a lot of reassurance from their partner.


An avoidant/dismissive attachment is often characterized by intense need for independence, being confident and often taking pride in being self-sufficient. This attachment style will often believe they do not require relationships to feel whole or complete. Avoidant styles will often be detached from their emotions and often struggle to understand the emotions of others.


In a disorganized/fearful/avoidant attachment the reactions to relationships are both in want or desire of closeness filled with fear of intimate relationships. This attachment style will long for closeness but struggle with trust. In this type of attachment there is often notable avoidance of emotions or often the individual struggles to regulate their emotions, often driven by fear of being hurt. 


If you have a chance to reflect on your attachment style it can be very valuable to understand how these attachments impact our ability to form and maintain relationships. Our brains are wired for these emotional connections and when we struggle it sometimes be the root of our internal beliefs of our self, depression or even anxiety. 


There are a lot of ways to both understand and change your attachment patterns in counseling. Working with a therapist can provide both insight into such patterns in relationships. 



Carrie-Lee Gibson, MACP is a Canadian Certified Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling & Psychotherapy Association and specializes in the areas of stress management, personal growth, as well as many others. For more information on Carrie-Lee and her work,  click here to link to her full bio page.