What’s Your Attachment Style - and How Can It Affect Your Relationships?

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Published Date|
March 20, 2024

What’s Your Attachment Style - and How Can It Affect Your Relationships?

Do you ever feel like your relationships all start and end the same way?

If you’re stuck in the same relationship patterns, your attachment style may be to blame.

But what are attachment styles - and how do they hold so much power over your relationships?

Here at KMA Therapy, we know you want to learn from the best of the best. For over 15 years, we’ve connected you with experts from our team and in our community to answer your most pressing questions about mental health, life, and relationships.

In this article, KMA Therapist Aneisa Maley, MA, RP(Q), breaks down everything you need to know about your attachment style and how it influences your relationships.

How are Attachment Styles Formed?

“Attachment styles are formed in the first two years of life. During this time children are learning and forming connections at a rapid rate,” explains Aneisa. “The relationship we have with our primary caregiver influences our development greatly.” 

While attachment theory commonly refers to your caregiver as your parents, your primary caregiver might have also been a grandparent, sibling, relative, or family friend.

The four attachment styles you can have are:

  • Secure, where you feel safe and stable in close relationships
  • Anxious, where you worry about being left or abandoned in relationships
  • Avoidant, where you avoid emotional closeness or intimacy in relationships
  • Disorganized, where you experience a combination of anxious and avoidant traits

“Patterns and understanding built during the formative years of life significantly impact the way we understand, navigate and relate to the world later in life,” adds Aneisa.

To learn more about the traits of each attachment style, read What are the Four Attachment Styles?

How Can You Tell Which Attachment Style You Have?

There are many quizzes available online (including our Free Attachment Styles Quiz) to help you determine your attachment style, and another great resource is the book Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F Heller.

attachment styles therapy

While tools like quizzes and books can help you get a good sense of what your attachment style is, the best way to figure out your attachment style is to discuss it with your therapist (especially if you think you have traits from multiple attachment styles.)

“Discussing childhood patterns with your personal therapist allows you to explore a deeper, more personalized investigation of your childhood experience,” explains Aneisa. “Your therapist can tell you how patterns in early life influence your attachment style and the patterns you notice in your day to day life.”

How Does Your Attachment Style Affect Your Relationships?

Now you know what your attachment style is and how it’s formed - but does it really have that big of an effect on your relationships?

If you’ve ever felt like you just keep dating the same people in different fonts, your attachment style might be the culprit.

“Attachment styles may lead to you noticing you are following a similar pattern within a relationship over and over again,” shares Aneisa. “No matter what you do, you notice the same ‘kinds’ of people coming up again and again in your life.” 

Your attachment style may be influencing your relationships if:

  • Your new partners constantly remind you of your exes
  • You feel like you will never find the right person for you
  • You find yourself having old arguments with new partners
  • You have trouble feeling confident or optimistic about your relationships

“Patterns such as these can be traced back to early childhood when your attachment style was being developed,” explains Aneisa. “These formative years can contribute to the way you understand and function within relationships, affecting relationships in present day life.”

Can You Change Your Attachment Style?

Secure attachment styles are often praised as the “goal” in relationships, but don’t feel bad if you don’t have a secure attachment style (only 51% of people are estimated to have a secure attachment style.)

Different attachment styles also bring unique strengths to relationships - if you’re anxiously attached, you’re likely a great listener. If you’re avoidantly attached, you’re probably great at respecting your partner’s boundaries.

attachment styles therap

You might also already have secure traits without realizing it.

“You may notice traits exist for you from multiple attachment categories,” shares Aneisa, “Or that while trying to achieve secure attachment overcorrections happen.”

An overcorrection means that you go from one extreme to the other when it comes to your attachment style. For example, if you used to be extremely dependent on your romantic partners (anxious attachment) but learned to avoid relying on partners at all (avoidant attachment), this is a sign of an overcorrection.

Still, working toward secure attachment traits can help you feel more confident and relaxed in your romantic relationships.

Building secure attachment traits in relationships can help you:

  • Have stronger emotional regulation skills
  • Communicate clearly and effectively
  • Feel comfortable during alone time
  • Develop healthy boundaries
  • Trust other people more

“Remember that attachment styles exist on a spectrum and are not fixed. Just because you find yourself relating to one does not mean you will be that particular attachment style forever,” reminds Aneisa. “The best way to heal attachment wounds and move toward a more secure attachment is doing the therapeutic work to understand your childhood experience and the way it currently influences patterns you see in your day to day life.”

Next Steps for Building Healthy Relationships

After reading this article, you know what attachment styles are, how they impact your relationships, and how a secure attachment style can help improve your relationships.

Here at KMA Therapy, we’re relationship experts. Our talented therapy team is here to help you understand how you think, feel, and act in relationships to help you feel fulfilled in your personal connections.

Aneisa Maley is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. She received her Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University, her undergraduate degree in psychology from Queens University and obtained a Certificate in Addictions from Wilfrid Laurier University and a CSAT Module one training certificate from the Institute of Trauma and Addictions Professionals (IITAP). 

Aneisa enjoys exploring early childhood attachments and investing how experiences from childhood dynamics to potential instances of trauma throughout life can affect our relationship with others, our behavioural responses, the roles we find ourselves in and how we interact and understand the world.

Book an appointment with Aneisa to get started on your therapy journey today.

You can also register online if you have any questions for our team or download our free Therapy 101 Guide to learn more about how therapy can help you reach your goals.

If you’d prefer to keep reading, explore these related articles:

Author |
Emily Weatherhead (Guest Author)
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