Let’s talk about adult attachment!
Similar to the way that we attach to our primary caregivers as infants, there are four attachment styles that we may exhibit in our adult romantic relationships or in our adult friendships – secure, preoccupied, avoidant, and fearful.
These four styles lie on a spectrum characterized by low or high avoidance, and low or high anxiety. The amount of anxiety you feel and the amount of avoidance you partake in determine your attachment style. With a secure attachment, there is low anxiety and low avoidance; you feel close to your partner, you’re able to talk about difficult topics without negative emotions and without needing to leave, and have a consistent outlook on the relationship. In contrast, an avoidant attachment style is characterized by low anxiety and high avoidance; you may avoid any serious topic of conversation, and when you find yourself in a serious situation or feeling high levels of emotions, you may need to physically and emotionally detach from your partner, sometimes without warning and for a long period of time.
As a couples therapist, it’s important for me to help my clients identify their adult attachment styles and to find ways to work towards a secure attachment. Attachment style isn’t permanent – we have the capacity to change it!