- There are four different types of attachment styles: secure, anxious, and two types of avoidance.
- Anxious and avoidant people find intimacy more difficult than those who are secure.
- This is often due to trauma such as neglect, poor parenting, or an abusive relationship.
Even the loneliest people need human attachment. That’s why solitary confinement is such a successful form of torture: we’re just wired to connect, from the day we were born and started crying for our mothers.
As we grow, we learn to bond with other people, and our early experiences with intimate relationships have a huge impact on how we approach attachment in the future.
It starts with the way our parents related to us, then we are further shaped by other experiences with friends, teachers, and early romantic relationships.
“We are driven by stories, and we don’t know what kinds of assumptions are running us until we pause and reflect,” psychologist Perpetua Neo told Insider. “It could be upbringing, it could be a difficult experience or an attachment, which can lead to stories about us, like ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘I’m not worthy,’ ‘I’m not lovable.’ “
Our stories can place us anywhere on a broad spectrum of how we approach intimacy, but people can generally be divided into categories based on how they engage with others: evasive, anxious, and secure. Avoidant and anxious attachment styles are often the result of early trauma, while secure attachment tends to mean that your childhood was healthy.
Psychotherapist Emily Morehead told Insider that attachment style “plays into every relationship we have, and quite honestly, how we view other humans”: relationships, workplaces, parenting, sexuality, etc.
“The root of the problem has a lot of ties to that attachment style and those early relationships,” he said. “A lot of the therapy we do is helping people feel strong and brave enough to believe that they are worthy of learning that about themselves.”
Here are the differences between the four attachment styles and how they affect your relationships.