July 23, 2019

Secure Attachment


Of the four attachment styles, a secure attachment is the best-case scenario. Fortunately, it’s also the most common attachment style, with somewhere between 55% and 60% of people having secure attachments.

What does it look like?

Secure attachment is exactly what it sounds like- someone who attaches securely is likely reliable, trustworthy, and steady. They are able to create and maintain relationships without the drama or volatility you might find in insecure attachments.

People with a secure attachment style are comfortable with intimacy and are able to be vulnerable and to respond to their partner’s or friend’s vulnerability. They are able to be comfortable with closeness with others because they assume and trust that they will get their needs met, whereas others who are more insecure in their attachment likely assume that their needs will not be met and that their friend or partner is not trustworthy. Secure attachers are able to relax into intimacy without worrying about the relationship. Their default is to trust it.

Description of securely attached people

There’s a book called Attached written on adult attachment that is a great resource for learning more about attachment. In Attached, authors Amir Levine and Rachel Heller compiled the list below to describe people who are securely attached, specifically in regards to intimate/romantic relationships (the list in full can be found on pages 136-137!):

Great conflict busters
Mentally flexible
Effective communicators
Not game players
Comfortable with closeness, unconcerned about boundaries
Quick to forgive
Inclined to view sex and emotional intimacy as one
Treat their partners well
Secure in their power to improve the relationship
Take some responsibility for their partners’ well-being

Those are all great qualities to see in a relationship! A secure bond can be hugely impactful themselves and even for those they attach to. Secure attachers are able to pick up on their partners’ needs and cues and are able to respond to them without getting caught up in worrying about the status of the relationship, and without shutting down at the idea of closeness. They are not as easily threatened or scared off.

Factors contributing to attachment styles

Researchers don’t know exactly what it takes for someone to attach securely. There are studies that suggest a genetic component that affects the way we attach. There are studies that track attachment patterns formed in infancy and how those do or don’t carry through into adulthood. It is likely a combination of a lot of different factors that contribute to our attachment.

However, I do believe that good experiences with secure bases (healthy and attentive caregivers, significant friends, or partners) – in which your needs are met appropriately and you experience connection – allow you to begin assuming that you are loved and that people are trustworthy. I think difficult relational experiences likely make secure attachment a much more difficult feat.

So, if you are a secure attacher, how can you maintain that security in your relationships? One thing you can be conscious of is how you can be that secure base for others. How can you practice being consistent, reliable, and trustworthy for those around you?

It can also be helpful to learn more about the other attachment styles so that you can better understand those who don’t attach in the same way that you do. If you’re interested in learning more about attachment, feel free to set up an appointment with one of our therapists- we’d love to talk through it with you. You can also check out Levine and Heller’s book Attached for more in-depth information on the different styles and how they work in relationships.

Written by therapist Clair Miller

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