Attachment Style Test: Key to Self-Awareness in Relationships

The attachment style test reveals our earliest relational patterns and explains how we attach and connect with people in our lives.

This conceptual tool is incredibly useful for getting to the bottom of our emotional needs and then using that knowledge to make positive behavioral changes that bring us more happiness and fulfillment in our relationships.

Moreover, it is safe to say that the attachment style test can aid in our personal growth and development in every area, as the quality of our relationships impacts our lives in every way.

Key Takeaways

  • Attachment theory explains how the quality of our earliest relational experiences shapes our relationships throughout our lives.
  • There are 4 attachment style types: secure, anxious-preoccupied, fearful avoidant, and dismissive avoidant attachment.
  • Your attachment style can change over the course of life, either through therapy and conscious self-development efforts or as a consequence of extreme positive or negative experiences.
  • Your attachment style manifests in all relationships in your life, not just the romantic ones.

What is the Attachment Theory?

What is the Attachment Theory - attachment style test

Attachment theory is a concept that explains how early relational experiences shape our relationships and emotional needs throughout our entire lives.

Founded by the British psychologist John Bowlby, the theory was later expanded and elaborated by Merry Ainsworth, and today, it is one of the fundamental theories that explain human development and personality.

The attachment theory is based on John Bowlby’s insight that infants form strong emotional bonds with their caregivers.

Bowlby argued that a child's attachment to a caregiver is much more nuanced and grounded in the need for connectedness than in the need for sustenance. This claim was in contrast to the prior theories that suggested attachment was an acquired behavior and an outcome of the feeding relationships between the child and the caregiver.

The central theme of attachment theory is how the quality of the relationship between the child and the caregiver affects the child’s emotional and overall personality development. Mary Ainsworth’s “Strange Situation” experiment was crucial for understanding how different attachment styles manifest in children.

The experiment explored how children reacted to the separation from their attachment figures and how they reacted when they reunited with them. It became obvious that certain patterns dominate, and that’s how the basic four attachment styles have been discovered.

In general, it is safe to say that attachment style and parenting style are closely interconnected.

Now, let’s explore each of the four attachment styles in more detail.

4 Attachment Styles

4 Attachment Styles

The four attachment styles are a basic framework that categorizes the relational patterns individuals have formed based on their experiences with their primary caregivers. Though it is generally considered that there are four basic attachment styles, a person might have a combination of two styles.

Moreover, contemporary psychologists like Richard Erskin, for example, say that the attachment style of each individual can be perceived as unique. However, the four basic attachment styles provide the basic framework for more complex interpretations of attachment theory.

To help you understand how each attachment style reflects on an individual’s character, we’ve also indicated which attachment style is the most typical for each of the 16 personality types.

So, let’s explore each attachment style in depth:

#1. Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style

Anxious-preoccupied attachment style comes as the result of inconsistent caregiving. The caregiver doesn’t respond to the child’s needs in a predictive, adequate manner, so the child is never sure what they can expect. Sometimes, the caregiver responds perfectly by attuning to the child’s needs, and sometimes, they ignore or mistreat the child in some other way.

In such a situation, the child can’t understand why their caregiver periodically validates their needs and occasionally doesn’t. This unpredictability creates anxiety in the child and makes them feel insecure. The child becomes clingy and, instead of exploring their environment, focuses entirely on finding strategies to ensure the presence of the caregiver.

As a result, these children tend to evolve into adults who are hypersensitive to the subtlest cues of rejection or abandonment and obsess over whether their partner loves them for real. They overanalyze their partner’s behavior and constantly seek reassurance that they are loved.

Moreover, they may also be extremely jealous, possessive, and very prone to seeking and building codependent relationships.

In terms of 16 personality types, the personality types that are most likely to have acquired an anxious-preoccupied attachment style include:

#2. Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style

Dismissive avoidant attachment style forms when the caregiver is present but emotionally unavailable or unattuned to the child’s needs. It can also come as the result of the caregiver’s physical illness or early death, where the child is left without the caregiver too early.

The point is that emotional intimacy and attunement were never present, and the child often felt rejected or neglected by their caregiver. Therefore, since the child finds it impossible to satisfy their need for connection, they decide to suppress this need and avoid seeking comfort and help from others.

Children with this attachment style may seem very mature and independent for their age. They seem to deal well with the demands of life. However, they typically struggle with social interactions and find it hard to relax.

As adults, these children insist on their independence and often avoid intimacy and emotional closeness. They feel safest on their own because that’s what their experience taught them. They form shallow relationships or no relationships at all, as they have trust issues and often don’t have any idea how it feels to be in a safe, close relationship.

Among the 16 personality types, the ones that are most likely to have a dismissive, avoidant attachment style are:

#3. Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

Fearful Avoidant Style

Fearful avoidant attachment style, also known as disorganized attachment, stems from developmental trauma, abuse, and/or extremely inconsistent caregiving. Caregivers of such children may apply severe punishments to their children while being emotionally unavailable.

Sometimes, there’s physical abuse in these families, and in some cases, there are no apparent signs of dysfunction, yet the child experiences the caregivers as both sources of comfort and fear.

This extreme ambivalence doesn’t allow the child to make any sense of their experience and organize the connection in some way. It is often considered that this is the most unhealthy attachment style, as it doesn’t allow the child to achieve any kind of emotional stability.

As a result, the child concludes that it is safer to avoid attachment altogether. These children’s behavior is full of contradictions, just as the behavior of their caregivers is. They crave love and affection yet withdraw and freeze at the sign of it, as they are unconsciously afraid that the abuse might repeat.

Adult individuals with fearful, avoidant attachment styles have trouble recognizing and regulating their emotions, behave in an excessive and impulsive manner, and struggle with maintaining relationships. They also have a very low sense of self-worth and show many self-sabotaging behaviors.

When it comes to comparing 16 personality types and their attachment styles, the ones who are most likely to be fearful avoidants are:

#4. Secure Attachment Style

Mom and daughter making a heart shape with their hands

Secure attachment style in relationships forms when the caregivers are responsive, warm, affectionate, and attuned to the child’s needs. There’s a healthy, strong bond between the child and their caregivers, and the child feels safe to express the full range of their emotions around their caregivers.

Securely attached children are open to the world and curious. They are eager to explore their environment because they feel they can rely on their caregiver for protection, comfort, and help. As a result, these children become more self-confident, compassionate, and sociable, and they regulate their emotions more efficiently.

As adults, children with a secure attachment style seek stable, committed relationships and have no trouble balancing their need for autonomy with their need for intimacy. Moreover, they recover more quickly after painful experiences and generally form long-lasting, fulfilling connections with other people.

Furthermore, the personality types whose traits mostly align with those of the secure attachment style are:

Key Traits & Tips for Dealing with Each Attachment Style

Key Traits & Tips for Dealing with Each Attachment Style

Key traits and tips for dealing with each attachment style can help us map and overcome our blind spots in relationships.

Moreover, while in the “old days,” it was believed that attachment style was fixed and unchangeable, contemporary personality theory allows for more flexibility and explains that each attachment style can change at any point in life as a result of extremely positive or negative experiences.

Therefore, it is possible for an individual with a secure attachment style to develop traits of avoidant attachment as a result of severe trauma. Conversely, an individual with disorganized attachment can heal their attachment wound through nurturing, positive relationships.

#1. Dealing with Anxious Attachment Style

If you have an anxious attachment style, you are most likely great at anticipating other people’s needs and find it natural to cater to them. Thanks to your strong focus on others, you haven’t really had the chance to become aware of your own strengths and qualities.

Therefore, the first step toward overcoming the weaknesses of your anxious attachment is to shift the focus from other people to yourself. By exploring your inner world, learning to recognize your needs and feelings, and understanding your unique qualities, you will learn to love yourself and put yourself first.

Moreover, the more you become aware of your strengths and values, the less you will obsess over relationships.

Instead of learning to give your partner space, take that space for yourself. Learn what you like and dislike, explore hobbies you’ve always wanted to try, and with time, you will understand that no one could have ever replaced the love you owe to yourself.

#2. Dealing with a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style

Dealing with a Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style

If you have a dismissive-avoidant attachment style, you enjoy spending time alone, and being around other people for too long may even feel tiring for you. You take pride in your independence, and asking for help in tough situations isn’t even an option in your mind. However, your independence may hinder your relationships.

Therefore, the most important thing to overcome regarding the avoidant attachment style is the impulse to withdraw from relationships as intimacy grows. It is essential for you to notice and recognize this impulse, stay present, and not act on it.

Instead of withdrawing, take a step back, reflect on your past experiences, and try to notice a pattern. It is very hard for someone with an avoidant attachment lifestyle to simply start sharing their feelings with other people. Therefore, taking small steps toward opening up and fostering emotional intimacy is essential.

Moreover, considering the trust issues typical of this attachment style, it is best for you to control the level of intimacy in the relationship. You can do that by taking the initiative and proposing collaborative activities that allow for the intimacy to build up gradually.

#3. Dealing with Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

If you have a fearful-avoidant attachment style, your defense mechanisms are very active and strong, as you’ve had to deal with a lot of turbulence in life. For this reason, you may find yourself swinging from extreme closeness to total detachment in relationships.

The first step in overcoming your dismissive, avoidant attachment style is to understand what happened to you and your attitude toward relationships. Recognizing your emotional patterns and educating yourself about your attachment style can provide significant insights necessary for your personal development.

It is essential for you to overcome your negative beliefs about closeness and intimacy. Finding a safe and stable environment that can provide consistent support for you is instrumental in overcoming a dismissive attachment style.

By experiencing what a safe connection feels like, you will be able to replicate that experience and become better at identifying people who can and can’t provide it to you.

Finally, the dismissive-avoidant attachment style is very complex, and seeking professional help can significantly enhance your healing process.

#4. Identifying and Fostering Secure Attachment Style

Two girls shaking hands

If you have a secure attachment style, you generally understand other people well and have no particular issues with intimacy, trust, or relationships in general. Your emotional IQ is very high. Balancing autonomy with connection comes naturally to you, and you express your needs assertively.

Since a secure attachment style is a goal to strive toward, the tips for you are mainly directed toward protecting your mental health and enabling you to understand those with different attachment styles.

Therefore, it would be useful for you to educate yourself about different attachment types so that you don’t take the behavior of people with different attachment styles personally.

People with secure attachment styles are attractive to everyone, as they make other people feel safe. For this reason, it is important for you to set healthy boundaries and not allow yourself to be consumed by other people’s needs.

How to Interact With an Anxious Partner

Interacting with an anxious partner requires emotional maturity and stability.

Here are a few essential tips:

  • Stay calm and grounded. An anxious partner’s feelings easily escalate, which is why it is essential for you to remain balanced, no matter how agitated they become. Bear in mind that they react to the slightest changes in your mood and easily misinterpret them. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by their feelings.
  • Communicate openly. Leave as little room for misunderstanding as possible. Be aware of the fact that your anxious partner is prone to overthinking and analyzing your words and behavior, so don’t give them something to worry about. Be clear, direct and precise.
  • Provide reassurance. Use every opportunity to reassure your partner how much they mean to you. Show them abundantly that you respect and care for them. However, be careful not to overdo it because your anxious partner may react with suspicion. Understand that they are full of doubts and allow for trust to build gradually.

How to Interact With a Dismissive-Avoidant Partner

Interacting with an avoidant partner requires strong self-esteem and patience.

Let’s go over a few crucial strategies for interacting with an avoidant partner:

  • Respect their need for space. Independence is the only source of security for your avoidant partner. Therefore, they will not react positively to anything that threatens their independence. Allow them to decide when they will come to you instead of pushing for too much closeness too soon.
  • Be patient and tactful. Building trust with an avoidant partner takes time. Pressuring them into commitment may only cause them to distance themselves. However, this doesn’t mean you should allow them to disrespect you or take you for granted. Set firm boundaries and communicate them with tact.
  • Maintain your own independence. Don’t fall into the trap of sacrificing your own interests and hobbies for the sake of a relationship. Your avoidant partner needs to acknowledge that you too have a need for space.

How to Interact With a Fearful-Avoidant Partner

Interacting with a dismissive-avoidant partner requires you to focus on building trust.

Here are a few practical tips on how to do that:

  • Be consistent. A fearful-avoidant partner is highly sensitive to non-verbal cues and will easily misinterpret any ambivalence as a threat to the relationship. It is essential that you remain consistent in your behavior, words, and actions.
  • Create a safe space for their vulnerability. Show your partner that you accept them for who they are without any projected expectations or demands. People with dismissive, avoidant attachment are prone to feeling shame and guilt, and therefore, it is crucial for them to feel that you won’t judge them for who they are and what they do.
  • Set clear boundaries. Your partner’s vulnerability may trigger you to play the role of savior in their life and neglect your own needs in the relationship. However, though fearful-avoidant partners crave unconditional love, they also need structure, so it is crucial for the survival of the relationship for you to uphold your boundaries.

How to Interact With a Secure Partner

Interacting with a secure partner generally feels smooth and easy, but there’s always room for improvement.

So, here are a few tips:

  • Show gratitude. Positive reinforcement strengthens the bond. With a secure partner, you don’t have to hold in your emotions, you can show your delight, gratitude and affection without being afraid that you will be misunderstood.
  • Use conflicts as growth opportunities. Secure partners aren’t afraid of disagreements. They will gladly hear you out and won’t hesitate to stand up to you. So, don’t try to avoid conflicts or dismiss them; they can bring you closer together.
  • Be open about your needs. One of the great advantages of having a secure partner is that you won’t be judged for how you feel. They have a great capacity for compassion and will welcome you to share your thoughts, fears, and emotions.

4 Attachment Styles in Other Relationships

Attachment Style Test

The four attachment styles affect all our relationships, not just romantic ones. Here’s an overview of how each attachment style manifests in friendships, family, and workplace connections:

Anxious Attachment Style

An individual with an anxious attachment style is often a people-pleaser who struggles to say no to things they don’t like and don’t want to do as they are chronically afraid of being rejected. They go above and beyond to support their friends and family and work hard, yet they usually don’t get the recognition they deserve, as they are not aware of their own value.

Fearful Avoidant Attachment Style

Individuals with a fearful-avoidant attachment style show a tendency toward drama in all their relationships. They easily idealize and devalue other people, including their friends and family, which manifests as deep instability in all connections. Their view of the world is often black and white, and they struggle to tolerate ambivalence in every sense.

Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style

Individuals with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style prefer to keep their distance from their family and friends. Family relationships are particularly stressful for them, as family is the environment where they adopt the avoidant attachment style. Therefore, they usually don’t keep regular contact with their family and show up only when that’s necessary.

Furthermore, they can form lasting friendships with people who have the same attachment style, though they usually experience some turbulence as a lack of communication easily leads to misunderstandings.

Secure Attachment Style

People with a secure attachment style show a tendency toward stability in all their relationships. They maintain close contact with their families, foster long and loyal friendships, and easily interact with people at work. Dependable and reliable, they easily establish healthy boundaries in all their relationships.

Final Thoughts

The value of the attachment style theory lies in the fact that it allows us to map our way back to our essence and heal what needs to be healed. Moreover, bear in mind that attachment style assessment is not final; it is just a pattern, a learned behavior, not an inherent character trait.

Bottom line, there are many attachment style quizzes, and all of them can be useful tools for personal development. The more you understand your attachment style type and the meaning of your attachment style in general, the more you have the power to change what you want about your life.

Looking to try some of the most insightful relationship tests? Check these out:

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