Attachment refers to how you think and relate to others, especially in romantic relationships.
Are you “clingy” in your relationships, often becoming jealous if you’re left alone for too long? Or are you more independent and comfortable being alone for long periods?
Founded by psychoanalyst John Bowlby in the 1950s and expanded on by Mary Ainsworth in the early 1970s, the attachment style theory
In other words, how you navigate relationships throughout life can be determined by how you bonded with your caregivers as a child.
There are four types of attachment styles:
- Secure: If you have this type of attachment style, your caregivers were likely emotionally available. They were sensitive to your needs and often responded appropriately. Infants with a secure attachment style were likely soothed by their caregivers when they were upset. Adults with this style are able to navigate relationships well and are generally loving and trusting toward others.
- Avoidant (aka anxious-avoidant): This type of style is considered an insecure attachment style. As a child, your caregivers may have been emotionally distant or absent. Children with this style likely didn’t seek out their caregivers during distress. They may have felt rejected and left to fend for themselves. Because of this, adults with an avoidant attachment style may have a hard time trusting others and have a strong sense of independence.
- Anxious (aka anxious-ambivalent): Also considered an insecure attachment style, children with anxious attachment styles may be clingy and crave attention from their caregivers, but may also then push them away. If you have this attachment style, you might have a tendency to be jealous and not trust others. You may also have an intense fear of rejection or being abandoned and alone.
- Disorganized (aka fearful-avoidant): Children with this attachment style, which is also considered an insecure attachment style, can seem confused at times. The actions and behaviors of their caregivers may not have been consistent. If you have this attachment style, your behaviors may appear confusing — you might be aloof one day and emotional the next. In adulthood, this attachment style is often associated with mental health conditions, such as mood disorders or personality disorders.
Changing attachment styles is possible. If you want to work toward a secure attachment style and are having a hard time, or simply want more guidance, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for help.
If your attachment style is causing you some distress and affecting your well-being, consider seeking the support of a professional.
This brief, time-saving questionnaire is designed for anyone who wants to know more about their attachment style and how they relate to others, whether friends, family, or romantic partners.
The items below will help you determine your attachment style.
A mental health professional can also help figure out your attachment style and uncover the cause behind it. They can also provide tools and strategies to help you work toward a more secure attachment style.
This online screening is not a definitive tool. However, it can be used as a self-screening tool and a starting point.
Only a trained medical professional, such as a doctor or mental health professional, can help you determine the next best steps for you.