People embracing

This is the first in a four-part series on attachment patterns. The four attachment styles are part of attachment theory, a psychological model that describes the how people relate to one another. We form our attachment styles as babies based on the child-parent relationship. These styles go on to influence and shape our intimate relationships as adults. Stayed tuned for the following articles on anxious-preoccupied attachment, dismissive-avoidant attachment, and fearful-avoidant attachment.

Secure attachment is the most optimal attachment style. As the name implies, people who exhibit secure attachment are able to form secure relationships and enjoy stable and loyal bonds with others, especially in intimate relationships. The confidence and sense of security that they enjoy as children transfers to their romantic relationships as adults.

Secure Attachment in Childhood

Children who demonstrate secure attachment may show initial distress when their parent or primary caregiver leaves, but they can quickly compose themselves because they know the caregivers will return, and they are happy to see them come back. This confidence is based on repeated demonstrations by the parents that they are supportive, caring, and responsive to the needs of the child.

This bedrock of security allows the child to explore the world independently, seek out social bonds with others, and practice self-reliance. The children choose this freedom because they know they are always rooted to that secure base of a loving and supportive parent.

Characteristics of Secure Attachment

People who demonstrate secure attachment have higher self-esteem, more self-reliance, more independence, and more easily form healthy social relationships with others. They exhibit lower instances of aggression, anxiety, and depression compared with their peers who have other attachment patterns. These same traits from childhood carry through to adulthood and begin to shape and influence our connections with others as we progress through life.

Secure Attachment In Adults

Adults who are securely attached generally have more satisfying, stable, and trusting relationships. Just as the child is able to explore independently based on the confidence instilled by the stable base of the parent, romantic partners can experience the same phenomenon. They are able to coexist as two independent actors who share a bond of love, affection, trust, respect, and intimacy, but they are able to be apart without jealousy, apprehension, or controlling tendencies. Relationships between two secure adults tend to be based upon mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual respect. The partners place equal importance on satisfying their own needs and the needs of their partner.

The attachment style that we develop in the few short years shortly after birth carry with us for the rest of our lives. Attachment styles affect how we connect and relate to other people, including our own children. Contact your Ottawa therapist for further assistance and discussion about the topic of attachment styles and how they affect our relationships.