How to Develop Secure Attachment as an Adult

How to Develop Secure Attachment as an Adult

People who have strong attachments can form and maintain close relationships. Discover what secure attachment is and how to change your attachment style as an adult.


What Is Secure Attachment?

The ability to form healthy long-term relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners is referred to as secure attachment. In early childhood, secure attachment develops. Primary caregivers must meet a child's needs in infancy and early childhood in order to help the child feel safe; this sense of security aids in the development of a secure attachment.

Insecure attachment styles can be caused by inconsistent parenting and childhood trauma. In romantic relationships, people with insecure attachment styles, such as fearful-avoidant, dismissive-avoidant, and disorganized attachment, frequently fear abandonment and lack emotional availability.


What Is Attachment Theory?

Attachment theory is the evolutionary and social psychology theory of British psychoanalyst John Bowlby about how humans form attachment patterns. Attachment theory, developed by Bowlby, examines the relationship between young children and their primary caregivers.

This fundamental early attachment promotes personality development and predicts how people perceive others as attachment figures or individuals with whom they can form an emotional bond. People with secure attachment styles can form healthy relationships with romantic partners and may find it easier to stay in love with their partner over time.


Attachment Theory in Early Childhood

In the 1960s and 1970s, American-Canadian psychologist Mary Ainsworth introduced the concept of the secure base in early childhood development, building on John Bowlby's theory of attachment behaviours and the work of other attachment theorists.

1. Infant attachment: During the first year of life, a child identifies a single person as a primary caregiver. The child will have one of three potential attachment relationships with that person: secure attachment (in which the child's needs are met), avoidant attachment (in which the child avoids the caregiver due to a lack of trust), and anxious attachment (in which the child avoids the caregiver due to a lack of trust) (in which the child fears abandonment because of inconsistent parenting).

2. The Strange Situation: Ainsworth created The Strange Situation laboratory to research behavioural systems in the first year of a child's life. In this procedure, psychologists observe how a child (aged nine to thirty months) behaves when his or her caregiver converses with a friend, leaves the child with the friend, and then returns to the child. This procedure is repeated several times to assess how well young children comprehend their secure attachment.

3. Human development: The amount of time children spend with their parents, as well as the quality of that time, are important factors in developmental psychology and the ability to form secure relationships. If the primary attachment figure abandons the child or fails to provide a safe haven for them, the child may develop a fear of the unknown and feelings of insecurity. Early secure attachment is critical for emotional development and positive mental health.


4 Signs of Secure Attachment in Adults

People who have a secure attachment have a positive outlook on life. People who exhibit this attachment style share a few key characteristics, which include:

1. Self-awareness: People who have secure attachments are aware of their own emotions as well as how they affect others, which leads to greater empathy and emotional intelligence.

2. Self-esteem: People with secure attachments tend to have healthy self-confidence as a result of early childhood encouragement.

3. Socialization abilities: People with secure attachment styles find it easy to form and maintain friendly and intimate relationships. They can express themselves freely to others, allowing partners and friends to do the same.

4. Good mental health: People who have secure attachment patterns can understand and control their emotions, practice mindfulness, and show grace and care to themselves and others.


How to Develop Secure Attachment as an Adult

A positive childhood experience predicts secure attachment, but you can change your attachment style as an adult. Consider the following methods for establishing a secure attachment as an adult:

1. Improve your self-esteem. Participate in activities and hobbies that boost your self-esteem. Avoid spending time with people who make you feel bad about yourself.

2. Accept assistance. Be emotionally available by offering assistance to those in need and seeking emotional support from others when necessary.

3. Express your emotions. Share your thoughts in a constructive manner. Develop your emotional intelligence by thinking before speaking so that you can consider how your words and actions may affect others.

4. Concentrate on healing. A therapist can assist you in developing soft skills that will allow you to better understand your emotions and relationships with others. Therapy can also teach you how to form future relationships.

5. Become more mindful. Learn how to meditate, express gratitude, and journal on a regular basis to keep track of your emotions and personal progress. If you want to stick to a self-care plan, you must schedule personal time on your calendar.


4 Adult Attachment Styles

Different attachment styles will emerge in adulthood as a result of early development. Attachment theory has been applied to adult close relationships by theorists. Adult attachment relationships include the following:

1. Ambivalent attachment style: Individuals suffering from attachment security anxiety, also known as ambivalent attachment, anxious-avoidant, or anxious-attachment style, are excessively needy and clingy. They do not have enough self-esteem to fully trust themselves or others, resulting in separation anxiety and constant worry about secure attachment and loss of attachment.

2. Dismissive-avoidant attachment style: People who have these attachment experiences avoid emotional vulnerability and perceive closeness as a sign of weakness. Those suffering from this attachment disorder will not rely on others but rather expect others to rely on them, resulting in an imbalance in a relationship.

3. Disorganized attachment style: Disorganized attachment, also known as disoriented or fearful-avoidant attachment, may describe partners who have difficulty regulating emotions and feel unworthy of affection. People who have experienced severe trauma, often sexual or physical abuse as children, may have a disorganized attachment. People with disorganized attachments can benefit from therapy and a strong social network.

4. Secure attachment style: The foundation of healthy adult relationships is a secure attachment system. Partners in secure attachment styles meet the emotional needs of others without using manipulation or abuse. They are emotionally dependent on one another while maintaining individual differences and interests. This equilibrium promotes a fulfilling relationship.