The theory of attachment is focused on the relationships and different ways of interaction that exist between people within relationships, especially long-term relationships. This includes the relationship between parents and a child as well as romantic partners.

In this article, we will discuss the concept of attachment theory and the research that has emerged from human relationships.

What is Attachment?

Attachment is defined as a special emotional relationship that entails an exchange of care, comfort, and pleasure. It refers to the way in which we relate to other people. In most cases, attachment style is formed during childhood, especially during the first two years of life.

During childhood, attachment depends largely on the interaction between the parents and the child. In adulthood, attachment is described through the relationship that exists between romantic partners.

The attachment style formed during childhood things with the person and shapes are the person relates in a romantic relationship during adulthood and in how a person parents their offspring. The foundation of the research on attachment began with Freud’s love theories.

However, John Bowlby is usually credited as the father of attachment theory because of his extensive research on the topic. Bowlby described attachment theory as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”

According to him, the early experiences of a person during childhood are important influencers of their behavior and development later in life. He is of the opinion that attachment prompts a person to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals.

Therefore, understanding your attachment style will offer insights into your past emotions and your childhood development. It will also provide clarity on the areas where you are emotionally limited as an adult and how you can improve. 

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Characteristics of Attachment

According to Bowlby, there are four distinct characteristics of attachment and we are going to discuss them below.

  1. Proximity maintenance: This is the desire to be near the people we are attached to.
  2. Safe haven: This is when a person is propelled to return to the person who serves as their attachment figure for comfort and safety when faced with a threat.
  3. A secure base: This is when a person’s attachment figure acts as a base of security where a child is free to explore the surrounding environment.
  4. Separation distress: This is described as the anxiety that happens when the attachment figure is absent.

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What are Attachment Styles?

Attachment styles are defined as the different ways in which people interact and behave in relationships. The attachment style of a person is characterized by their relationship or interaction with their parents during childhood.

Oftentimes, the attachment styles developed during early childhood are what grow with a person into adulthood. These attachment styles do not get erased, they form the foundation for the pattern of attachment that erupts into romantic relationships.

It is worthy of mention that the concept of attachment styles grew as the bedrock for the concept of attachment theory and the research that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, four main attachment styles are recognized by psychologists.

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Types of Attachment Styles

1. Secure Attachment

This is when an attachment is formed in an infant. Secure attachment is characterized by love, warmth expressed between parents and a child. It occurs between six months to two years.

Infants form an attachment with the primary caregiver that caters to them. Therefore it is important that the primary caregiver remains in their life and is consistent during those first two years. 

Also during a child’s first two years, they form an attachment with the person that is responsible for them and they use that adult as a secure base and explore the world through them.

A child in this type of attachment is securely attached and this stems from an unwavering relationship and interaction formed between the child and the parents or the primary caregiver.

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Children with secure attachment styles are confident in their interactions with others and very active. Children who form secure attachment styles during their childhood are likely to carry this healthy way of bonding into adulthood and easily build long-term relationships without fear of abandonment.

2. Avoidant Attachment

This type of attachment disorder happens as a result of parents or caregivers who are often emotionally unavailable and insensitive to and unaware of the needs of their children.

They are mostly unaware and have little response when a child is hurt or in distress. They demand that their children do not cry and encourage them to be independent at all times.

These types of children grow into “little adults” who take care of themselves rather quickly and detach themselves from needing anything from anyone. 

3. Disorganized Attachment

An abusive parent or caregiver who causes physical and emotional cruelty to children causes them to develop fearful behavior. These types of children have hyper survival instincts and are quick to flee to safety even when they do not have to.

In these situations, children typically have a negative self-image and are quick to disassociate from themselves.

They block out the experiences with their minds and detach from what is happening to them. Children in this conflicted state have disorganized attachments.

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4. Anxious-insecure Attachment

Some parents or primary caregivers are inconsistent in how they relate with their children. Sometimes they are appropriately caring and nurturing but at other times they are insensitive and intrusive.

Children with this type of parents turn out confused and insecure because they don’t know what type of treatment to expect.

They are often suspicious and distrustful yet very clingy and desperate. These children constantly seek their parents’ or caregivers’ approval and continuously have the fear of being abandoned. They tend to carry what they have learned into adulthood, and may often feel unloved by their partners. They are usually emotionally dependent in adulthood.

Best Attachment Style Quizzes to Try

  • Formplus attachment style quiz: Complete the attachment style test designed by Formplus to determine whether the signs you recognize are associated with attachment disorder. The questions are simple to understand and easy to answer. Once the test is completed, you will get automatic feedback on your performance. It is important that you visit professional medical health practitioners to be properly diagnosed.
  • Dr. Diane Poole Heller’s Attachment Styles Test: This attachment styles test is designed to be an interactive learning tool. It is designed to highlight your expression in your previous or current relationship. It does not have to be with a romantic partner but it should be with someone who you share a bond with.
  • Couples learn attachment style quiz: The attachment style test on Couples learn is designed by professional therapists to help you in your bonding journey. This is because knowing your attachment style can help you create a happy & healthy relationship.
  • Psychology today’s attachment style test: It is a free and fast test that you can complete in 5 minutes. This attachment style has a profound effect not only on our emotional development but also upon the health of our relationships. So the test is designed to help you realize which style is yours.

What are the Signs of Attachment Disorder in Adults?

There are several signs to suggest that a person is suffering from attachment disorder but first, let us look at the meaning of attachment disorder.

An attachment disorder is a behavioral disorder that impacts a person’s ability to form and maintain relationships. Similar to how attachment is formed during childhood, attachment disorders are also developed during childhood.

This disorder may be a result of the inability of the child to form an adequate and consistent emotional connection with the parents. Attachment disorder when left untreated can develop into a person’s adulthood. 

As of the moment, there is no formal method of diagnosing attachment disorder, however, here are some of the signs to look for.

During childhood, children who go through attachment disorder show signs of;

  • Little to no emotions during social interaction.
  • Poor interaction with other people.
  • Difficulty in maintaining calmness when stressed.
  • Mostly unhappy, scared, sad, and easily irritable.

Some of the signs exhibited by people with attachment disorder during adulthood are: 

  • Difficulty in reading and interpreting emotions.
  • Resistant to affection
  • Have a low level of trust
  • Experience difficulty in maintaining relationships.
  • A negative self-image.
  • Often detached 
  • Have anger issues and are impulsive.

How Do You Heal Attachment Styles?

Attachment disorder can have an effect on the mental health of anyone with the condition. This is why it is important to visit the hospital for evaluation if you notice or recognize any of the signs of the condition.

The treatment for a childhood attachment disorder is usually psychotherapy and it may also prove beneficial to adults who are experiencing the disorder. It may benefit you to talk to your therapist about your feelings.

An adult with attachment disorder can also go for attachment therapy or counseling. This will help the person to overcome the effect of negative early experiences with attachment.

People who are in a relationship can benefit from couples counseling. It will help them see how the condition is affecting their relationship and provide tools and strategies that could help strengthen their bond.

How to Create Your Own Attachment Style Quiz with Formplus

To create an attachment style quiz on Formplus, here are the things you should do:

1. Create an account with Formplus: To access the Formplus builder, you will have to create an account with Formplus. Not to worry, it’s totally free.

2. If you already have an account, go ahead and sign in to get started. You can choose to create yours from scratch or search for the “online quiz template” then click on “Use Template” 

3. Click the edit button to modify the template to suit your survey questions. You can easily build your attachment style quiz into your survey form using the drag-and-drop feature.

4. Once you’ve done all the necessary modifications, click on the “Save” button. You can then proceed to share your survey form using any of the available options.

Faqs about Attachment Styles

  • What is the most common attachment style?

Secure attachment is the most common type of attachment style. Securely attached children are able to explore their personality and express their emotions when they have the knowledge of a secure base (their caregiver) to return to in times of need.

  • What is the rarest attachment style?

Anxious-avoidant is the hybrid of avoidant and anxious attachment. It is much rarer than avoidant or anxious attachment styles. Children or adults with fearful-avoidant attachment often had traumatizing experiences with their parents or primary caregiver.

  • How do fearful Avoidants fall in love?

Fearful-avoidant attachments have both avoidant attachment style and an anxious attachment style. They often want love from others and even crave affection. However, they are reluctant to have close or intimate relationships, and even when they finally become open to it, they take their time to properly assess the situation.

  • Which attachment style gets jealous?

Again, individuals with fearful-avoidant attachment styles are more likely to become jealous and consider rivals as threats. 

Conclusion

Attachment is the core of human lives and it determines what emotions are shown or expressed in our adult lives. It is important to try as much as possible to develop a great bond with infants so they can grow into wholesome adults.

However, if you or someone you know shows signs of attachment disorder, it is important that they visit the hospital for evaluation and start treatment to rectify it.



  • Formplus Blog
  • on 9 min read

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