Children respond to their primary caregivers in specific ways that are well-known to most people, and particularly to those in the field of attachment science. But did you know that adults also become attached to their loved ones in specific ways? Adult attachment theory– the most advanced relationship science– fits these ways into three main attachment styles, or manners in which people perceive and respond to intimacy in romantic relationships. These three attachment types are secure, anxious, and avoidant.
The secure attachment style is the most common attachment style — just over 50 percent of the world’s population have a secure love style. If you are secure, you are comfortable with intimacy. You are effective at communicating your needs and feelings to your partner; you have an innate understanding of the give-and-take of romantic relationships. You aren’t bothered by small issues.
Being reliable and consistent, secures may seem boring at first to those with other styles because there is little drama in their love lives. But secure people have a stabilizing effect on those with less secure styles and they report the highest level of satisfaction in their relationships.
2. Anxious (Preoccupied)
Anxious people, who make up about 20 percent of the population, crave intimacy and are often overly concerned with their relationship and partner. Anxious individuals worry that their partner does not want to be as close as they do and at times experience negative emotions. If you are an anxious type, you are sensitive to your partner’s moods and actions, and take these personally. On the upside, you are good at understanding your partner’s emotions.
3. Avoidant (Dismissive)
People with an avoidant love style make up a quarter of society. Avoidants equate intimacy with a loss of independence and autonomy. Because of this they try to minimize closeness and partners often complain that they are emotionally distant. As an avoidant you have the basic human need for attachment and love but tend to feel suffocated with too much intimacy.
Avoidants do not easily understand their partner’s mental and emotional states. But if you are not an avoidant, you are likely to meet them while dating — they are often on the dating scene due to having short relationships Avoidants do not usually date other avoidants.
A rare 3 to 5 percent of the population have a fourth style: anxious-avoidant. If you have an anxious-avoidant style you are uncomfortable with a lot of intimacy but are still concerned with the availability of your partner and the progress of your relationship.
A large number of studies have confirmed these types to exist across cultures. Knowing your type and the type of your partner or potential partners can help you to understand tendencies and motives in relationships.
What’s your attachment style?