Secure attachment: this is what we all aim for. This occurs when your needs as a child is met by your parents with the appropriate response. You see your parents as a secure and reliable base, giving you freedom to separate and explore the world with confidence. This results in the ability to establish long and trusting relationships, a calm disposition, and self esteem.
Ambivalent attachment: Results from inconsistent attention from the parent during childhood, making you uncertain of when your needs will be met. This creates anxiety in a child. On one hand you are constantly trying to get the parent’s attention but also fearful of impending neglect. As an adult, you struggle to form long lasting relationships for fear that your partner doesn’t love you and often feel insecure when there is separation from your partner. You will also seek approval from those around you for fear of being alone.
Avoidant attachment: Neglectful, rejecting and insensitive caregiving to the needs of the child teaches the child that there is no relying on the caregiver who will not be responsive to the child’s needs. Often viewed as "independent" and "mature" as a child, but as an adult you struggle with intimacy and may actually avoid it. You are uncomfortable sharing thoughts and feelings and do not receive praise well since you feel patronized by it.
Disorganized attachment: Shows both ambivalent and avoidant attachment due to frightening situations and role confusion from the environment. Inner confusion and anger can result in rage and violence towards themselves and others. You struggle to feel remorse for your outbursts, feel misunderstood by others, and alone. As an adult, you may seek relationships to meet your needs, but feel fearful when things get emotionally close. You often have trouble recognizing your partner’s feelings and can become emotionally explosive when you feel misunderstood.
Most people have secure attachments. And although you may have loving caregivers during infancy, sometimes life takes a turn that affects your attachment style (ie. death of a parent, divorce, or abuse). Sometimes you may lean more towards one side than the other, being more avoidant or more ambivalent. What happens in adulthood is that you may be repeating relationship patterns due to unawareness of or unresolved feelings from early attachment. And although you may not need to heal these feelings with your caregivers, creating your life story with understanding about these feelings will help you to move forward in creating new relationship patterns.