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Secure Attachment Style: Can You Cultivate A Long Lasting Relationship?

Last Updated
March 28, 2023
Secure Attachment Style

What Is It?
How It Develops?
Signs
Benefits
Helpful Products

A secure way to connect with others involves trusting and feeling comfortable in close relationships. People who have secure attachment styles and relationships tend also to have optimistic beliefs about themselves and others. They also feel comfortable with intimacy, emotional support, and closeness.

When babies are born, they need someone to take care of them. They rely on their caregiver to provide food, comfort, and safety. When the caregiver responds to the baby's needs consistently, and with love, the baby feels secure and learns to trust that their caregiver will always be there for them.

Over time, this emotional connection creates a special bond between the baby and its caregiver. The baby learns to count on their caregiver, even when things are scary or difficult. This feeling of safety and trust is what we call a secure attachment.

- Comfortable being close to each other
- Comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings.
- They can trust others and feel secure in their relationships.
- They feel confident in themselves and their ability to handle relationships.
- Able to be emotionally intimate with others and feel close to them
- They can handle conflict constructively.
- They can give and receive love freely.
- People who can forgive others and move on from past hurts.
- They have a strong sense of self-worth and feel good about themselves.
- They are comfortable with intimacy and do not fear being close to someone else.
- They don't need constant reassurance from others and feel secure in themselves.

- Able to regulate emotions
- Raise securely attached children
- Ability to manage stress and complex situations with poise
- Better mental health, including fewer bouts of anxiety and depression
- Improved relationships with partners, family, and friends
- Higher levels of trust in oneself
- Creating more trust in others
- Improved communication skills
- Ability to express oneself clearly and listen actively
- Improve your conflict resolution abilities.
- Better at establishing and maintaining firm boundaries
- Better social support and community bonding
- Better self-control and the ability to effectively take care of emotional needs
- The ability to be more intimate and form deeper connections with other human beings

Secure attachment is essential for human development and having healthy personal relationships. But what does it mean to be a secure person and to have a secure attachment style? And how can you develop one?

This article will explore the characteristics and benefits of a secure attachment style. We will also provide some tips for the secure attachment process and cultivating it.

A couple doing the tango

What is a secure attachment style?

A secure way to connect with others involves trusting and feeling comfortable in close relationships. People who have secure attachment styles and relationships tend also to have optimistic beliefs about themselves and others. They also feel comfortable with intimacy, emotional support, and closeness.

Individuals with a secure attachment style usually had caregivers who were continually responsive to their needs and established a sense of safety and security during their early childhood. This nurtured a sense of trust and security in close relationships throughout their lives.

People who exhibit secure attachment style traits are characterized by the following:

  • Trust
  • Comfort with intimacy
  • High self-esteem
  • Independence
  • Resilience [1]
An example of adult relationships with people who are securely attached in their intimate relationship

How does a secure attachment develop?

According to attachment theory, when babies are born, they need someone to take care of them. They rely on their caregiver to provide food, comfort, and safety. When the caregiver responds to the baby's needs consistently, and with love, the baby feels secure and learns to trust that their caregiver will always be there for them.

Over time, this emotional connection creates a special bond between the baby and its caregiver. The baby learns to count on their caregiver, even when things are scary or difficult. This feeling of safety and trust is what we call a secure attachment. [2]

Helpful tip

Embrace self-care and mindfulness to ease anxiety. Recognizing your anxious-avoidant attachment style is the first step to healthier relationships!
A mother holding her child

Navigating the Journey of Secure Attachment: From Cradle to Adulthood

Secure attachment is the cornerstone of healthy emotional development. But how does this journey evolve from infancy to adulthood? Let's traverse this intriguing pathway.

The Dawn of Secure Attachment: Infancy

The saga of secure attachment begins in the crib. As babies, we're vulnerable beings, completely dependent on our caregivers for our most basic needs. Whether it's hunger, discomfort, or just a need for cuddles, we communicate these needs through our first language - crying.

The magic happens when the caregiver responds consistently. When a baby's cry is met with a warm, loving response, a message is sent: "The world is safe. You can trust that your needs will be met."

This trust, cultivated in infancy, sets the stage for a secure attachment style.

The Voyage Continues: Childhood

As babies transition into childhood, their world expands. Securely attached children carry the trust instilled in infancy into their new experiences. They're confident explorers, knowing they have a secure base to return to - their caregiver.

Children with secure attachments are also better equipped to handle emotions. They learn that it's okay to express feelings and that comfort is available when things get tough.

The Culmination: Adulthood

In adulthood, the seeds of secure attachment sown in early years bear fruit. Securely attached adults find it easier to form close, intimate relationships. They're comfortable expressing their feelings and are not afraid of being rejected or overwhelmed.

They also have a positive view of themselves and others. They believe they're worthy of love and trust that others are reliable and good-intentioned.

A couple holding hands on the beach

Understanding Secure Attachment Thought Patterns

Secure attachment is marked by confidence, independence, and emotional balance in relationships. It forms a foundation of trust, allowing for open communication and fostering a sense of safety. Understanding the thought patterns of those with secure attachments can provide useful insight into healthy emotional habits.

Confidence in Communication

People with secure attachments tend to have a relaxed approach to communication. They send messages without the compulsion to immediately check for a reply. They trust that the recipient will respond when they can, freeing them from the need to constantly monitor their phones. They don't associate delays in responses with negative implications about their relationship or the other person's feelings towards them.

Understanding of Personal Space

Those with secure attachment understand that everyone has a life outside their relationship. They respect personal space and time, and don't feel threatened if they are not in constant communication with their partners. They know that not being glued to their phones or chatting every day doesn't signify a decrease in affection or interest.

Self-Reliance and Personal Interest

Securely attached individuals value their independence and have their own hobbies, interests, and relationships outside their partnerships. They center their lives around their own personal growth and development. They believe in balancing their time between their partners and other aspects of their lives.

Setting Healthy Expectations

Setting unrealistic limits or expecting constant communication can lead to unhealthy habits and cause unnecessary stress in a relationship. Those with secure attachments understand that a delay in response doesn't necessarily mean a lack of interest or care. It simply means the other person hasn't gotten around to responding yet. They maintain healthy expectations and don't rush to negative conclusions based on minimal evidence. [6]

An elderly couple staking a scroll

What are the signs of a secure attachment style?

  • Comfortable being close to each other
  • Comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings.
  • They can trust others and feel secure in their relationships.
  • They feel confident in themselves and their ability to handle relationships.
  • Able to be emotionally intimate with others and feel close to them
  • They can handle conflict constructively.
  • They can give and receive love freely.
  • People who can forgive others and move on from past hurts.
  • They have a strong sense of self-worth and feel good about themselves.
  • They are comfortable with intimacy and do not fear being close to someone else.
  • Furthermore, they don't need constant reassurance from others and feel secure in themselves. [3]
An elderly couple enjoying their time together

Benefits of a secure attachment style

  • Able to regulate emotions
  • Raise securely attached children
  • Ability to manage stress and complex situations with poise
  • Better mental health, including fewer bouts of anxiety and depression
  • Improved relationships with partners, family, and friends
  • Higher levels of trust in oneself
  • Creating more trust in others
  • Improved communication skills
  • Ability to express oneself clearly and listen actively
  • Improve your conflict resolution abilities.
  • Better at establishing and maintaining firm boundaries
  • Better social support and community bonding
  • Better self-control and the ability to effectively take care of emotional needs
  • The ability to be more intimate and form deeper connections with other human beings [4]

The Secure Attachment Approach to Ghosting

When one encounter ghosting, the reaction varies greatly based on attachment styles. A securely attached person, who trusts in the dependability and goodwill of others, is likely to navigate the situation differently.

For instance, imagine a situation where someone you've had a great time with, who expressed a desire to be friends, suddenly ghosted you after you brought up certain past events that hurt you. As a securely attached individual, one might handle the situation like this:

Immediate Feedback

Securely attached individuals give immediate feedback when hurt. They don't wait to bring it up later as something that "has hurt in the past". The issue is addressed then and there, potentially avoiding the ghosting scenario altogether.

Maintaining Integrity

If ghosted, securely attached individuals may initially believe that there must be an unknown reason that explains the sudden disappearance. They might reach out to the person who ghosted them, and if there's no response, they would likely give them space.

Self-Reflection and Acceptance

If the ghosting continues, a securely attached individual might start reevaluating their perception of the person who ghosted them. They might conclude that they had an unrealistic idea of the ghoster's integrity and consider it a sign of weak communication skills, which they would find unattractive.

Moving On

Eventually, they would accept that they've been ghosted and conclude that the ghoster isn't someone they'd want to maintain a relationship with. They'd see it as an opportunity to learn and grow and not take the ghoster's behavior too personally. [7]

How to develop a secure attachment style?

  • Identify your current attachment style.
  • Work on being aware of your own emotions
  • Improve your communication skills. This means listening carefully, expressing yourself in a way that is easy to understand, and being willing to hear what other people have to say.
  • Learn how to set boundaries. This means you should only say "yes" when you want to do something, not just because someone else wants you to do it.
  • Learn to trust yourself and others.
  • Developing healthy coping skills, such as mindfulness, exercise, and self-care, can help you manage stress and negative emotions more effectively.
  • Ask your friends or family for help.
  • Talk to a therapist. [5]

Helpful tip

Deep breaths and self-awareness are key in managing your temper. Remember, your anger is valid, but it's how you express it that matters most.
A couple having a serious conversation about boundaries

Mastering the Art of Boundary Setting for Secure Attachment

Boundaries are invisible lines we draw to define our personal space, time, and emotional capacity. By setting clear boundaries, we can shift away from people-pleasing behaviors and move towards a secure attachment style.

Understanding Boundaries: A Practical Scenario

Let's consider a simple example to understand boundaries better. Imagine you agree to help someone but later realize that you're not available for the task. Instead of feeling obligated and resentful, you communicate the change of plan. This step of standing up for your needs is setting a boundary.

Key Takeaways:

  • Boundaries help prioritize personal needs.
  • Clear communication is integral to setting boundaries.

The Spectrum of Boundaries: From Work to Relationships

Boundaries at the Workplace

In the professional context, setting boundaries might mean adhering strictly to your work schedule, ensuring that requests from colleagues do not intrude into your personal time. This helps maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Boundaries in Romantic Relationships

When it comes to romantic relationships, boundary setting involves acknowledging personal needs and self-worth. Individuals who have a healthy sense of self are better equipped to maintain their boundaries in relationships.

Key Takeaways:

  • Setting work boundaries safeguards personal time and mental health.
  • In romantic relationships, boundaries require a good sense of self-worth.

Boundary Setting: A Hurdle for People Pleasers

For people who are used to pleasing others, setting boundaries can be a daunting task. They often struggle with issues of self-worth and find it difficult to assert their needs, leading to situations where they feel exploited or emotionally drained.

The Crucial Role of Self-Awareness in Boundary Setting

Becoming more self-aware is an essential step in setting healthy boundaries. This involves understanding the root causes of certain behaviors and recognizing personal patterns. One effective method is maintaining an impulse log, which can help identify triggers for particular reactions and learn from past experiences.

For instance, if you notice that you tend to lash out when your emotional needs are unmet, recognizing this pattern allows you to communicate your needs more effectively and establish boundaries to protect your emotional health.

Key Takeaways:

  • Self-awareness is a critical aspect of boundary setting.
  • Tools like an impulse log can help identify triggers and patterns in behavior. [8]

Interesting tip: Setting boundaries enhances your self-esteem and autonomy. One of the many benefits of therapy is helping you learn and maintain those boundaries.

People With A Secure Attachment Style Have Healthier Relationships

People with a secure attachment style tend to have healthier relationships as compared to those with insecure attachment styles (anxious, avoidant, or disorganized). Here are some areas where people with a secure attachment style typically don't encounter issues:

Consistent Communication

Securely attached individuals are generally effective communicators. They are comfortable expressing their needs, thoughts, and feelings, leading to fewer misunderstandings and conflicts. They are also more likely to have constructive discussions about issues instead of avoiding difficult conversations or becoming overly anxious about them.

Balanced Dependence

Unlike those with anxious or avoidant attachment styles, securely attached people have a balanced approach to dependence. They are comfortable with interdependence, meaning they can depend on their partner when necessary, but also maintain their independence. This balance fosters mutual respect and cooperation in the relationship.

Emotional Stability

Those with secure attachment styles tend to be more emotionally stable. They don't often experience the intense, negative emotions that characterize insecure attachment, such as fear of abandonment (common in anxious attachment) or discomfort with closeness (common in avoidant attachment).

Trust and Security

Secure individuals have a strong sense of trust in their relationships. They tend not to worry excessively about their partner's fidelity or commitment and feel secure in their partner's love for them. This level of trust provides a solid foundation for the relationship to grow and flourish.

Conflict Resolution

Secure individuals are typically better at managing and resolving conflicts. They can address issues openly and honestly without resorting to blame or avoidance. This ability leads to healthier conflict resolution and less relationship turmoil.

Adaptability

Those with a secure attachment style tend to be more adaptable to changes in the relationship. They can manage transitions and challenges without becoming overly anxious or resistant, allowing the relationship to evolve over time.

Remember that everyone can work towards developing a more secure attachment style through self-awareness, therapy, and consistent effort. It's never too late to work on improving your relationships and attachment style. [9]

Personal Stories Of People Developing A Secure Attachment Style

u/Firefluffer

Navigating a succession of dysfunctional relationships and marriages from 18 to 49, the individual struggled with toxic patterns and relationships despite years of therapy. A transformative shift occurred when they embraced a trauma-centered therapist, engaged in EMDR therapy and activities like yoga and dancing, which led to a period of self-love and firm boundaries.

Despite these advancements, they still faced a challenging period, learning how to avoid codependency and communicate effectively. However, with time and further therapeutic support, they entered a relationship with a person who had a healthy attachment style, discovering that it was indeed possible to have a passionate relationship without drama, reinforcing the importance of working on personal trauma and fostering self-love.

Read Firefluffer's story.

u/Akistrawberry

In their journey towards a secure attachment style, this person found self-help exercises from dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and regular consultation with a therapist crucial in developing coping tools for anxiety. They also realized the importance of having a supportive friend network, which helped reduce dependency on their partner and understand that no one person can fulfill all their needs.

The transformation also involved a deep dive into self-discovery, cultivating personal boundaries, interests, and a sense of self-worth that helped overcome feelings of loneliness and past trauma. Acknowledging their emotional needs, they learned to provide for themselves before involving a partner in their life. Podcasts on self-development and journaling served as valuable tools in their journey, demonstrating that while paths to secure attachment differ, they are achievable.

Read Akistrawberry's story.

Conclusion

In the journey of self-discovery and personal growth, fostering a secure attachment style is pivotal for building healthy and fulfilling relationships. Remember, it's a process that involves self-reflection, understanding personal needs, setting firm boundaries, and most importantly, cultivating self-love.

As we navigate this path, let's embrace the transformation, knowing that while the road may be challenging, the reward is a stronger, healthier self capable of meaningful, mutually nurturing relationships.

FAQ

Can an adult attachment style change over time?

Yes, attachment styles to romantic partners can change with time and experience. According to the attachment theory, as people go through different romantic relationships, they may develop new ways of relating to others that are different from their initial attachment patterns.

What is the difference between secure and insecure attachment styles?

Secure attachment styles are characterized by trusting relationships and the ability to feel comfortable being close to others. While an insecure attachment style, on the other hand, is characterized by mistrust, and difficulty building close social and personal relationships, and emotional connections.

References

  1. Harvard College: Attachment Styles
  2. Insider: How to develop a secure attachment style so that you can have healthier, more loving relationships
  3. Psych Central: Here Is How to Identify Your Attachment Style
  4. Circle of Security International: The Benefits of Secure Attachment
  5. MindBodyGreen: How To Rewire Your Brain To Have A Secure Attachment Style
  6. INDIGO INSIGHT COUNSELLING: Developing a Secure Attachment
  7. r/AnxiousAttachment: How would a person with a secure attachment handle getting ghosted?
  8. r/AnxiousAttachment: What is meant by "set boundaries"? What does that mean exactly?
  9. Journal of Organizational Behavior: Secure attachment: implications for hope, trust, burnout, and performance
  10. r/AnxiousAttachment: Has anyone successfully developed in a secure attachment style?

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I have a passion for writing. I work as a Senior Marketing Manager for Islomania LLC. I have developed a strong interest in writing articles and website management during my time here. I enjoy both article writing, poetry, and story writing. In my role as a marketing manager, whether I’m writing an article, or a story, or improving other writers’ content, I always try to engage my readers and give them something to think about.
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