Attachment Style: The Secret to Successful Relationships

Attachment styles, or the way we relate to others, are the key to why some relationships work and others don’t. What’s your style?

| October 24th, 2011
Attachment Style: The Secret to Successful Relationships

Imagine that you’re on your way to the airport. You’ve been in a cab for just twenty minutes when you get a text from your partner: “Did you get there okay? Will you call me when you land? I miss you already!” You ignore it, thinking, “Ugh, so needy. Didn’t I just leave the house?”

Or maybe you’re the one sending the texts. You don’t hear back and you think, “That’s so inconsiderate! How much effort does it really take to text back? I shouldn’t have to put up with this!” By the time you finally do get a call, you’re ready to explode.

Either of those sound familiar?

Those are two examples of insecure attachment styles, and they represent a relationship dynamic that’s all-too-familiar for many of us. But by recognizing your attachment style and tapping into a “secure mindset,” you can improve your love life tenfold.

Take Our Attachment Style Quiz

QUIZ: What's Your Attachment Style?

Know Your (and Your Partner’s) Attachment Style

How comfortable each of us feels with intimacy and independence in relationships is what psychologists call our “attachment style.” It’s essentially our way of relating to other people and it affects all of our relationships—from work and family to friends and flings. 

There are two basic ways of being attached to others: securely and insecurely.

People who are securely attached are warm and loving, happy to be close but comfortable being alone. They’re rarely bothered by the little frustrations that might get under someone else’s skin and they’re harder to offend or upset.

The majority of people—about 60 percent—are secure. “It’s a silent majority,” says Amir Levine, M.D., psychiatrist and author of “Attached.” He explains that you rarely hear a peep from people in a secure relationship—they just go about their business. Not so for insecure couples, where friends and strangers hear about every fight, email, worry and text. “They’re a louder minority,” he says.

Insecurity comes in two basic flavors: anxiety and avoidance. You might be mostly anxious (known as preoccupied attachment, if you take our Close Relationships Quiz), mostly avoidant (dismissing attachment), or a combination of both (fearful attachment).

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