What is Secure Attachment?

If you haven’t already read this previous post on attachment styles, stop right here, read it, and then come back. That post lays the groundwork you’ll need about what attachment styles are and how they impact adult relationships.

In this post, we’ll examine the characteristics of people who have a secure attachment style. Of the 4 attachment styles, this is the easiest one to describe. It’s like Leo Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Similarly, people who are secure attachers are pretty much what you’d expect them to be like; it’s the other three attachment styles that take more work to explain (as you’ll see in those upcoming 3 posts).

People who have a secure attachment style:

# 1 Probably had secure attachments with a caregiver as a child.

Since we discussed this in the previous post on attachment styles, we won’t go into much detail here. It’s common for people who experienced secure attachments with a caregiver as children to form secure attachments in adult relationships. It isn’t a guarantee, though. But secure attachments are generally easier for these fortunate people.

# 2 Can be happy either independently or as part of a couple.

Although these kinds of attachers have the healthiest patterns when they’re in romantic relationships, they don’t need to be in romantic relationships to be happy. Their sense of fulfillment and self-worth is internal, not external, so it doesn’t require another person.

# 3 When in a relationship, are happy doing independent things or couply things in balance.

Just as secure attachers don’t need to be part of a couple in order to feel like they have worth, they also don’t need to spend all their free time with an S.O. in order to feel secure in the relationship. They’re not only fine with occasionally doing things apart, but they also enjoy it. They seek out a respectful balance between intimacy and independence and try to honor each person’s right to pursue their own interests while also pursuing closeness as a couple. When their partner expresses a desire to spend a weekend with a friend group, they don’t react with suspicion, disappointment, or attempts at creating guilt. Similarly, if they themselves express a desire to spend a weekend with a friend group, they wouldn’t be doing so out of a feeling that they need to escape, but rather just that they’d appreciate the opportunity.

# 4 Feel comfortable depending on another person.

Secure attachers don’t feel that it’s a weakness or a problem to depend on their S.O. emotionally. Of course, there is a big difference between depending on someone in a healthy way where both people are supporting each other and depending on someone in an unhealthy way where one person is always sacrificing for the other’s irresponsibility and bad habits. But in a secure attachment relationship, healthy dependence is treated as something to be fostered, not ashamed of.

# 5 Feel comfortable being depended on by another person.

Similarly, secure attachers don’t feel that it’s a burden or a problem for their partner to depend on them. They recognize that their partner has emotional needs and that it’s normal for their partner to come to them with those needs.

# 6 Are honest.

Secure attachers avoid mind games. They don’t feel that they have to suppress their real feelings in order to be loved, but instead realize that intimacy is predicated on honest communication. They’re being themselves, not someone that they think their partner would want them to be.

# 7 Think positively about their own relationships.

This one might sound obvious, but lots of people who aren’t secure attachers feel very positively about their relationships when they’re physically with their partner, but experience a lot of negative emotions and thoughts while physically separated from them. They might start having doubts about whether their partner really loves them, or start doubting whether their partner is really the right fit for them. Secure attachers have positive thoughts and feelings about their relationships both while physically present with and physically separated from their partners. Unsurprisingly, they also report higher levels of satisfaction in their relationships.

# 8 Have appropriate self-esteem.

This characteristic lies behind many – maybe even most – of the other characteristics on this list. A lot of the other problems that non-secure attachers have are rooted in a low opinion of themselves. Their healthy level of self-esteem helps secure attachers feel less doubt and guilt about their relationships.

In case you missed it in the original attachment styles post, remember that you can take a quiz to find out your attachment style here. Keep your eye out for upcoming posts on the remaining three kinds of attachment styles and how they play out in relationships. They aren’t as pretty, but if you or someone you love has one of them, then it’s only by understanding them that you can come to work past them

If you think you or your partner has an insecure attachment style and you’d like to talk more about changing that, you can call us at (305) 501-0133 or click here to schedule a free 15-minute Clarity Consult.

Envision Wellness is a private practice that offers psychotherapy, psychological testing, and life coaching in Miami, FL.  Our team has a passion for helping others achieve happy, fulfilling, and change-making lives that make the world a better place.  Each therapist has their areas of expertise.  Not sure who you’d like to work with?  Click here to schedule a free 15-minute phone consult to help you decide.

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