Adult attachment styles often develop during childhood and carry on into adulthood. They influence the way to look at and behave in relationships with others. There are four main attachment styles in adults—secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.
Adults with secure attachment styles typically have a strong sense of self and desire to be close to others. Their lives are balanced, since they are happy with themselves and their relationships with others. Those who are anxious-preoccupied are often very self-critical and insecure, and seek validation from other people. They’re afraid that others will reject them and have a hard time trusting. People with dismissive-avoidant attachment styles tend to be loners and regard relationships as unimportant. They tend to avoid conflict and respond to stress by withdrawing. The fearful-avoidant attachment style leads people to detach themselves from their feelings when they’re stressed or traumatized. They don’t have a clear sense of self.
These attachment styles all influence the way a person behaves in a relationship. People who are secure manage to have fairly balanced relationships, since they are comfortable with themselves and with others. Those with a preoccupied style are usually afraid of rejection and act clingy and desperate in relationships. Dismissive-avoidant people tend to not form relationships at all. Fearful-avoidant people desire close relationships, but often panic when the relationship deepens and requires them to be emotionally vulnerable.
Thankfully, it is possible to change your attachment style and work toward becoming secure. Because attachment styles often stem from childhood experiences, you can work with a counselor to figure out your story and identify influential moments in your past. Understanding your narrative and where your attachment style comes from can help you repair what needs to be fixed.