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How Can I Develop a More Secure Attachment Style?

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From a young man in the U.S.:  I have a preoccupied attachment style and it has been causing me more discomfort than usual recently. So I’ve decided to do some exploring to discover the source by searching online since I can’t currently afford therapy.

One thing that has stuck out to me is that attachment styles are often developed in childhood. However, I never experienced any sort of trauma or neglect that I feel would cause this preoccupied attachment style: I was raised by my mother alone, but never suffered the absence of my father; I played with friends like any other kid; I was really an average child.

But somewhere in my teens, when I began dating, I noticed that I was very scared to drive partners away by being clingy and overly affectionate. Now that I am an adult, I’m still noticing this in my current relationship: we are long-distance, and sometimes go days without talking due to poor reception, and when this happens I begin to feel very lonely and blue.

It’s worth noting that I’ve previously been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Aside from this loneliness, I’ve also worried that I might say things that will upset him, though I strive to be honest and open with him. My last concern in this relationship is that I can barely imagine a future without him, as the thought overwhelms me with anxiety. Is it possible that this attachment style developed elsewhere, and is it possible to develop a more secure attachment style?

How Can I Develop a More Secure Attachment Style?

Answered by on -


Thank you for writing. Your letter shows you to be a smart and sensitive guy. Not being able to afford therapy, you have done what you can to find good help. The Internet is certainly a place to start. But it is only a start. Sometimes a little information can turn out to be not very helpful since you don’t have the training to interpret what you are reading or to see alternative explanations for your problem.

I question your self-diagnosis. Before going down the road of attachment disorders, I would want to explore with you whether you are experiencing the normal process of figuring out how to be in relationships. You are only 20. The relationships you’ve had so far were in your adolescence, when people are generally unsure of themselves and awkward and often scared. It is during those first relationships that we all learn how close is too close and how close is close enough. Every relationship goes through a stage of calibrating how to give and receive affection in a way that is comfortable for both people.

Currently, you are in a long distance relationship with unpredictable contact. Of course you are lonely and sometimes insecure. You don’t have enough face time with your partner to do the dance of intimacy that is required for two people to figure out how to be together.

Because your feelings are “normal” doesn’t make them any less painful. Your history of anxiety and depression may make this life stage especially difficult. You do need more support than you currently have.

Here are a couple of articles from PsychCentral’s archives that might be helpful:

When You Cant Afford Psychotherapy

What to Do When You Can’t Afford Therapy

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie


How Can I Develop a More Secure Attachment Style?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). How Can I Develop a More Secure Attachment Style?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 Jan 2020 (Originally: 4 Jan 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 3 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.