Signs of a Secure Attachment Style in Relationships

How do you develop a secure attachment?
on September 07, 2023
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

Stable, secure relationships — it’s what we all dream of achieving. 

People with a secure attachment style have this end goal in their sights, with their attachment patterns allowing them to form healthy and happy relationships. Even though there is no magic formula for a secure attachment, these relationship styles are usually formed from our early childhood experiences and how our needs were catered to. 

Before we go blaming our parents for our insecure attachment — it’s important to understand the key to healthy attachment styles, and if this kind of pattern is achievable in our adult relationships.  

What is attachment? 

Attachment is about the psychological connectedness between human beings, affecting how we behave in all of our interactions and relationships. 

According to attachment theory, which was developed by John Bowlby and later expanded upon by psychologist Mary Ainsworth, early childhood relationships with primary caregivers greatly influence a person’s emotional and social development in later life. 

Therefore, your early experiences go on to form how you behave in adult relationships — particularly romantic or intimate relationships. 

Depending on these aspects of human development, children can adopt either secure or insecure attachment styles. These patterns of attachment come in varying degrees, with each type affecting our social interactions and relationships in adulthood. 

One study shows that 56% of respondents self-identify as being securely attached, while 44% said they showed signs of various insecure attachment styles. 

However, it’s important that adult attachment styles come in different degrees and should be accurately identified by a professional therapist. It’s also important to note that attachment styles are usually not identifiable in the first year of a relationship, with insecure styles usually triggered as things progress later on. 

How does attachment style impact romantic relationships? 

Attachment styles are the result of how a child feels about their close relationships, particularly how if they have a need, how strongly they feel that need will be met. The environment in your early years plays a significant role in how individuals form and maintain relationships throughout their lives. 

While everyone reacts differently to various relationship milestones, this social psychology is a helpful tool to understand and cater to your emotional needs in a relationship. 

For example, if you have been identified as having an anxious-avoidant or fearful-avoidant attachment style, you may require more support from your romantic partner or struggle with certain aspects of the relationship. 

What is secure attachment?

Secure attachment in relationships is considered the healthiest and perhaps the most desirable attachment style — as securely attached people tend to form more positive relationships throughout their lives. 

This attachment style is formed through healthy childhood interactions, building a sense of emotional security which translates into later life. Due to this high sense of self-esteem and self-worth, they don’t have issues developing secure emotional bonds, instinctively trusting others. 

By developing this positive internal working model of relationships, securely attached people are better equipped to deal with relationship issues and hurdles — forming healthy, stable attachments more easily. 

10 signs of secure attachment style in relationships 

People with secure attachments are usually easily identifiable based on how they behave in adult relationships or deal with social interactions. 

These signs indicate a positive approach to emotional connections, without fear or anxiety about how their partner will react. This self-assured behavior enables them to navigate human relationships with ease — making them easy to spot! 

Even though a secure attachment style is naturally the most desirable, it’s important to remember that as human beings, we’re not perfect. While securely attached people cope better with relationship challenges, attachment style isn’t the ultimate deciding factor of relationship satisfaction.

Trusting others Securely attached individuals generally have a positive view of others and trust that other people can be relied upon. Therefore, they aren’t plagued by insecurities and don’t fear that their partner may betray them.
Comfortable with intimacy People with secure attachments crave emotional closeness and intimacy in their relationships. Therefore, they feel comfortable being honest and expressing their feelings and needs without fearing rejection.
Effective communication Communication is an important part of any healthy relationship, with securely attached individuals usually capable of expressing themselves assertively when needed. As good communicators, they are able to be receptive and empathetic to their partner’s communication style — naturally encouraging their loved ones to open up.
Naturally independent Even though they crave intimacy, secure individuals are very capable of retaining their independence. For example, they pursue their own interests while also being emotionally available to their partners.
Emotionally supportive If you have a secure attachment, you’re naturally empathetic to your partner’s needs. In times of stress or conflict, securely attached people naturally offer comfort and reassurance to their loved ones. This is particularly visible and effective if their partner has an insecure attachment style, as they may need more regular encouragement and support.
Healthy conflict resolution Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, even if only small squabbles or tiffs. What matters is how you deal with it! Securely attached people have the ability to handle conflicts more constructively, erecting healthy boundaries to keep the relationship on track.
Shows vulnerability For some, opening up to their partner can be an anxiety-inducing experience, but this is not the case for those with a secure attachment. They can embrace vulnerability, sharing their deepest thoughts and feelings without the need to seek validation from their partner.
Emotionally resilient Due to the stability of their childhood experiences, they have learned how to handle their emotions in a healthy way. Instead of suppressing their feelings, they can express their emotions clearly to their partner without becoming overwhelmed.
Positive self-esteem People with secure attachments tend to have higher self-esteem and self-worth. Since their primary caregiver gave them the encouragement they needed in their early development, this translates to a positive self-image in adult relationships.
Stable relationships Overall, due to all of these attributes, securely attached individuals tend to have more satisfying and stable long-term relationships. Due to the secure attachment which was passed on from their caregivers or parents, they can handle relationship challenges more effectively — rather than avoiding the issue or retreating from the situation.

How to develop a secure attachment style 

Secure attachment style forms during child development, with healthy relationships during childhood impacting patterns of attachment through to adulthood. 

By having a secure relationship with your primary caregiver, children develop expectations that someone will always be responsive to their needs. These attachment figures can be seen as a secure base or safe haven from which they return as they learn about their social environment. 

A secure bond or attachment is formed if a child is brought up in a supportive environment, where caregivers are responsive to the child’s needs. 

Without this kind of parenting style, young children don’t get the emotional support necessary to develop attachment security. To put it simply, the theory suggests that securely attached children naturally develop into securely attached adults. 

Can you develop a secure attachment style in adulthood? 

According to research, and Bowlby’s main theory, the expectations formed during childhood remain effectively unchanged for the rest of your adult life — impacting all future relationships.  

However, even if someone didn’t develop a secure attachment in infancy, they can still work on building healthier attachment processes and patterns through therapy and positive relationship experiences. 

While early life experiences play a significant role in shaping attachment styles, attachment is not fixed but fluid. This capacity for change and growth is a fundamental aspect of human development — if you want to work on it, you can.

What is the healthiest attachment style? 

Secure attachment is known as the healthiest, most satisfying, and most desirable form of attachment. Unlike insecure attachment patterns, securely attached people don’t fear judgment or rejection in relationships — as this isn’t a learned behavior for them. 

"The secure attachment behaviors show up from day one in the relationship, with clear communication about what they desire even on those first few dates,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Relationship Expert at Paired.

“Because the attachment style is secure, someone with secure attachment is more likely to recognize behaviors in another person that do not align with their needs, over-romanticizing a partner's behaviors.”

As the healthiest form of attachment, it’s something positive to work towards in your adult relationships in order to develop stable and long-lasting partnerships. Even though it’s a gradual process, it’s a rewarding journey of personal growth and development. 

“Developing a sense of security in your relationship is crucial for its overall health and success,” says Seeger DeGeare. 

“It creates a safe and trusting space for both partners to express themselves freely without fear of judgment or rejection. When you feel secure in your relationship, you can confidently be more courageous out in the world, knowing that you have a stable and supportive place to come back to.” 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an example of secure attachment?

    Every relationship is different, but an example of a secure relationship hinges on effective communication, transparency, boundaries, and trust. For example, if a conflict arises in a relationship, a securely attached couple approaches it as a team, seeking to understand each other’s perspectives. They work together to find a solution, without blame or hostility.
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