Understanding your attachment style


The four types of attachment styles

  • Secure
  • Avoidant (or anxious -avoidant in children)
  • Anxious ( or anxious-ambivalent in children)
  • disorganised bracket (fearful dash avoidant in children)

Avoidant, anxious and disorganised are considered insecure attachment styles:

If a child can consistently rely on their parents to fulfil their needs growing up they are likely to develop a secure attachment style. They will see relationships as a safe space where they can express their emotions freely. On the other hand, insecure attachment styles develop if a child has had a strained bond with their caregivers. This happens when the child learns they may not be able to rely on others to fulfil basic needs and comfort.

Secure attachment:

A secure attachment bond that meets a child’s needs for security, calm, and understanding allows for optimal development of the child’s nervous system. A child’s developing brain organises itself to provide a foundation, based on a feeling of safety as a child matures this foundation can result in

  • Healthy self-awareness
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Empathy
  • Trust

Infants who are securely attached have learned they can trust other people to take care of them they tend to:

  • React well to stress
  • Be willing to try new things independently
  • Form stronger interpersonal relationships
  • Be superior problem solvers

Anxious attachment

Also known as anxious ambivalent ,or anxious preoccupied is another type of insecure attachment characterised by:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Depending on a partner for validation and emotional regulation
  • Developing Co-Dependent tendencies

This attachment style stems from inconsistent parenting that isn’t attuned to a child’s needs. These children have difficulty understanding their caregivers and have no security for what to expect from them moving forward. They are often confused within their parental relationship and feel unstable children,

with this attachment style children experience very high distress when their caregivers leave. Sometimes the parents will be supportive and responsive to the child’s needs, while other times they will not be attuned to their children

If you have an action anxious attachment style you may also have experienced from your parents:

  • Inconsistency between being overly affectionate and detached or indifferent
  • Being easily overwhelmed
  • Been sometimes attentive and then push you away
  • Made you responsible for how they felt

Therefore these children often grow up thinking they are supposed to take care of other people’s feelings and often become codependent

Signs you may have an anxious attachment style include:

  • Clingy tendencies
  • Highly sensitive to criticism
  • Sense of approval needed
  • Jealous tendencies
  • Difficulty being alone
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Low self-worth
  • Feeling unworthy of love
  • Intense fear of rejection
  • Significant fear of abandonment

Avoidant attachment style

Avoidant, dismissive-avoidant, or anxious-avoidant are all words for the same insecure attachment style, it is defined by failures to build long term relationships with others due to an inability to engage in physical unemotional intimacy;

How it develops:

In childhood, you may have had strict or emotionally distant and absent caregivers:

  • You may have left you to fend for yourself
  • Expected you to be independent
  • Reprimanded you for depending on them
  • Rejected you for expressing your needs or emotions
  • Been slow to respond to your basic needs

Some parents are other parents or outright neglectful, others are simply busy, slightly disinterested, and more concerned with things like grades chores or manners some feelings hopes dreams or fears:


As a result these children may learn to adopt a strong sense of independence so they don’t have to rely on anyone else for care or support

Signs you might have an anxious avoidant attachment style if you:

  • Persistently avoid emotional or physical intimacy
  • Feel a strong sense of independence
  • Are uncomfortable expressing your feelings
  • Believe you don’t need others in your life
  • Are dismissive of others
  • Have a hard time at trusting people
  • Feel threatened by anyone who tries to get close to you
  • Spend more time alone than interacting with others

How it manifests in relationships:

Anxious avoidant attached adults may tend to navigate relationships at  a distance. The need for emotional intimacy is simply lacking in this style of individual, so romantic relationships are not able to reach any level of depth. While they allow romantic partners to engage with them ,they avoid getting emotionally close , a partner may feel as if they can never get inside and will inevitably be stonewalled or dismissed, when the relationship feels too serious for the anxious avoidant partner.

Disorganised attachment


When a baby or child has developed an organised attachment to their caregiver, their caregiver provides a safe secure base for them. The child knows they have somewhere and someone safe to return to, someone who will always strive to meet their needs, this allows them to feel confident ,venturing out independently and taking chances as they explore the world. When a baby or child has developed a disorganised attachment their caregiver has not created a safe, secure base for them to confidently return to. Instead, they may have created a relationship with a child in which the child loves and cares for them but also fears them. This leaves the child consistently unsure of what or how the caregiver will respond to their needs. A child’s instincts are conflicted they are hard wired to seek support and security from their caregiver but they’re also scared of them.

Article by Diane Pulley

Diane Pulley is a BACP accredited and UKRC psychotherapist and Life Coach having graduated from Warwick university. She has worked in private practise for many years with clients presenting various issues, from trauma, depression, anxiety and self confidence. Diane works with both individuals and couples. Her experience has lead her to work with corporate clients delivering stress management training for both staff and management. Aspire You has been born from a personal journey, of Diane's own marriage breaking down after 28 years, when she identified there is a need to support women through this process and help them rebuild their lives. "everyone has the potential to lead fulfilling lives and i am committed to helping individuals achieve that desire"