Even those with the most entrenched challenges can ‘earn’ secure attachment.
Do you often fear that your partner doesn’t want to be as close as you’d like them to be? Do relationships tend to consume a large part of your emotional energy?
Or maybe you’re often on high alert for any signs of control or impingement on your territory by your partner. You tend not to open up to your partners, and they often complain that you’re emotionally distant.
Or, do you take things in stride when it comes to romance and don’t get easily upset over relationship matters?
Each of these three scenarios points to a distinct “attachment style”: secure, anxious, and avoidant. Each style has a different set of features—and the style you most identify with speaks volumes about your attitude toward relationships and commitment, your comfort level with direct communication, and your capacity for intimacy.
Attachment styles were first defined by researchers observing the way babies (usually 9 to 18 months old) behaved during what was called the “strange situation” test, when they were briefly separated from their mothers and then observed to see how they responded upon her return. Some of these responses can also be detected in adults who share the same attachment style; we heartily recommend the book Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller for a thorough (and accessible) primer.
But, like many human traits, one’s attachment style is part nature and part nurture. If you cringed as you read the sentences at the top of this story, don’t fret—researchers have shown that adult attachment is fluid over time, and even those with the most entrenched challenges can gradually “earn” secure attachment. (And many of the posts on our blog show you a variety of ways to do this!)
So, what’s your attachment style? To find out, download Levine and Heller’s Adult Attachment Questionnaire that you can do by yourself or with a partner!