Adult Attachment Styles

Adult attachment styles are important because styles first developed during infancy remain stable and consistent over time and are eventually carried into adulthood (Golder et al., 2010).  Manson (2014) described three prominent attachment styles formed by adults.  One is called anxious–preoccupied, meaning that if an individual formed insecure attachment, then the attachment style will be anxious-preoccupied.  This is when an individual feels the need to continually elicit intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from partners and might be referred to by others as clingy or dependent (Dozier, Stovall-McClough, & Albus, 2008).  The second attachment style is called dismissive–avoidant, which is when individuals might display increased independence and consider themselves as being unsusceptible to feelings associated with being emotionally connected to others (Manson, 2014).  The third attachment style is called fearful–avoidant.  Fearful–avoidants are characterized by having varied feelings about intimate relationships.  They might yearn for intimacy but then might feel extremely uncomfortable being emotionally close to anyone.  This attachment style is similar to ambivalent–resistant styles that can be seen in children before the age of 18 months, in which the child seeks contact from the caregiver but resists angrily once contact is achieved.

In addition to the three prominent attachment styles, Manson (2014) theorized that individuals with secure attachments value relationships and readily display interest and affection.  Securely attached individuals are content being alone, and they are highly independent (Fraley, 2010).  They are also confident and do not have difficulty trusting others; in addition to that, they themselves are trustworthy (Manson, 2014).  Secure adults have been found to be more satisfied in their relationships than insecure adults. Secure adult relationships tend to be characterized as having greater longevity, trust, commitment, and interdependence than do insecure adult relationships (Fraley, 2010).  They are also more inclined to use romantic partners as a secure base from which to explore the world (Fraley, 2010).   Manson (2014) further reported that 50% of the general population is securely attached, as opposed to Hazan and Shaver (1994), the founders of adult romantic relationship styles, who reported that 60% of their study participants were assessed to be securely attached (Hazan & Shaver, 1994).

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