PDS Logo, the Tree of Life
PDS Logo, the Tree of LifeClose
Go Back

What are the Different Attachment Styles?


Reading time:

5 min


Published on:

Thu Nov 09 2023


Last updated:

Wed Apr 24 2024


Written by:

The Personal Development School

There are 4 types of attachment styles that can be formed during early childhood, depending on a person’s interactions and experiences with parents, caregivers, siblings, relatives, and friends.

Those experiences and interactions (everything from childhood trauma and unstable environments to a supportive and strong family unit) create their perception of the world, specific groups (like women and men), and how they interact with people.

In turn, this forms patterns and behaviors in their subconscious mind. And being that the subconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious one, people follow these patterns repeatedly, whether they know it or not.

These patterns and behaviors indicate your attachment style: three of which are referred to as insecure attachment styles as they have elements of insecurity behind your actions; one is known as a secure attachment.

However, despite subconscious patterns, it doesn’t mean a person can’t transform their insecure attachment. Each attachment style has unique strengths and areas for improvement. That’s what The Personal Development School is all about – guiding people to transform their attachment style so they become secure, confident, and worthy.

The person just has to know which attachment style they have, their signs, and their origins to begin the journey.

Firstly, let's look at what are attachment styles.

What are Attachment Styles?

Attachment styles originated from the Attachment Theory, which was developed in the 1950s by John Bowlby and later expanded upon by Mary Ainsworth.

Essentially, attachment styles are experiences, interactions, beliefs, and boundaries that are formed in childhood. These usually come from our parents or caregivers, but can come from other experiences outside of the home.

These attachment styles stay with us well into adulthood, affecting how we interact with people, what we believe about others and ourselves, our views on love and relationships, and how we face challenges.

There are four types of attachment styles:

  • Anxious Preoccupied
  • Dismissive Avoidant
  • Fearful Avoidant
  • Secure Attached

The first three attachment styles are known as "insecure" because there are insecure beliefs and emotions residing in the person due to unmet needs in chilhood.

While secure attachment is considered the most successful in finding and maintaining relationships with themselves and others.

Most people believe though that attachment styles are forever. Let's discuss that now.

Can You Change Attachment Styles?

The general consensus was that attachment styles (particularly insecure) are permanent; you have them for life.

But that's been debunked.

You can actually heal and overcome your insecure attachment style to become securely attached.

It requires a person to delve deep into their attachment style, understanding where their issues come from and how to heal themselves. Then, they can make moves to become securely attached.

Let's discuss the 4 types of attachment styles today.

Attachment style chart

The Different Types of Attachment Styles

The Anxious Preoccupied Attachment

Of the 4 types of attachment styles, anxious preoccupied (AP) – also known as anxious attached (AA) – is recognized for their constant need for reassurance in their relationship and fear of abandonment. But ultimately, want to be loved and valued.

They have a keen sense of when their partner is pulling away, making them become “clingy” or a “people-pleaser”. They desire to get close to someone because they never want to be alone.

This stems from APs growing up with inconsistent parents. An example is when one parent was there while the other wasn’t. Or when parents would swing from being supportive to not.

The result is a child who can't break their relationship with their parents, developing an "anxiety" when they are unattached.

To move past your anxious preoccupied attachment style, people have to:

Only then can they become securely attached adults.

The Dismissive Avoidant Attachment

Dismissive avoidants (DAs) are recognized for their desire for independence and fear of intimacy, which is noticeable due to their lack of emotional bonding.

They fear they'll forever be stuck in a painful relationship with the wrong person. They feel they’ll be misunderstood, which drives them to believe the relationship will not last. They might even argue with their partners to drive them apart.

Their childhood was one of neglect, resulting in them self-soothing faster and building a wall around themselves.

However, those with dismissive avoidant attachment styles value independence and autonomy in an easy, fun, and harmonious relationship. They want to be accepted and acknowledged.

As a DA, individuals can move to a more secure attachment style by challenging their fears of intimacy, allowing themselves to be vulnerable, and working on their self-awareness. Understanding core wounds and needs as a DA is crucial to transformation.

The Fearful Avoidant Attachment

Fearful avoidants (FAs) are also known as “disorganized or disoriented” attachment styles. It’s because of these characteristics that out of the 4 main attachment styles, it’s the one that combines both elements of anxious and avoidant attachment styles.

This is because FAs experienced trauma-inducing childhoods, including not getting emotional support or living in unstable environments (divorce or abuse).

Due to a lack of emotional support or stable connection, they fear being in relationships and being trapped with someone unstable. They also fear betrayal or abandonment and feel unloved, devalued, and powerless.

Despite all this, those with a fearful-avoidant attachment desire a deep connection with people, wanting to be loved, heard, trusted, and valued. They want to be independent and have the freedom to explore themselves. The trouble is they’re scared there is “too much to do” to overcome their issues.

Taking a deeper dive into understanding fearful avoidants can address and heal your underlying traumas so you can become a secure adult.

The Secure Attachment Style

The only one of the 4 types of attachment style that is recognized for being secure.

A securely attached person arises because they grew up in a a household that featured consistent emotional and physical connection from their parents, predictability, open communication, and stability.

That allows the child to grow into a confident adult that was values safety, openness, and vulnerability. They know who they are, what they want in themselves and their relationships, can handle their emotions, and view conflict as an opportunity to discuss challenges.

Their only issue that they might struggle to connect with other insecure attachment styles due to their open and confident approach.

How to Become Securely Attached

Becoming securely attached means being comfortable with intimacy and autonomy while having a positive self-image of themselves and accepting that they’re worthy of love.

Becoming secure will take time, patience, and consistency, but by doing so, people can form trusting, stable relationships and effectively communicate their needs and emotions.

This is where The Personal Development School comes in. We’ll provide online courses dedicated to understanding and healing your attachment style. We'll offer you engaging exercises and workbooks and a strong community to help you grow.

It’s the first step to becoming secure and loving yourself again. But the first step is knowing your attachment style - and we have a free quiz for that!

Share this Article


Let's stay connected!

Get personal development tips, recommendations, and exciting news every week.

Become a Member

An All-Access Pass gives you even more savings as well as all the relationship and emotional support you need for life.

Mockup of PDS courses on the student dashboard.

Top Articles

27 JUN 2023

How to Overcome Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style

Does the thought of commitment make you cringe? Yet, deep down, you crave the closeness and connection of a romantic relationship?

If you nodded yes to or recognized these patterns in your partner, ...

27 JUN 2023

How to Overcome Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

Do you crave intimate connections – only to withdraw if someone comes “too close”? Maybe you prefer to leave before someone can leave you?

If so, you might have a fearful avoidant attachment style. ...

31 AUG 2023

8 Ways to Heal a Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

People with a fearful or disorganized attachment style typically experience some form of childhood abuse or trauma in the form of emotional, physical, or most commonly, verbal abuse. Luckily, healing ...