October 15, 2020

Jem Fundano

Attachment Styles and Attachment Issues: What Are They?

As a baby, your attachment with your caregiver forms a deep emotional bond. Attachment varies in quality, and it plays a critical role in child development. Moreover, attachment determines how you navigate and form future relationships with others. If the quality of attachment is bad, it can lead to attachment issues.

Understanding Attachment Styles

Different attachment styles are formed and developed in your early years as a child. It's initially manifested in the relationship between you and your caregiver. Caregivers can be parents or guardians. They are also referred to as "attachment figures."

The causes of attachment issues can be attributed to many contributing factors such as parenting style and behavior. The attachment styles and behaviors you develop in your childhood significantly impact your long-term response and expression to those around you.

Types of Attachment Styles

The following are types of attachments styles:


When the caregiver is sensitive to your needs as a child, you're most likely to develop a secure attachment. It is a healthy attachment style. Suppose you developed a secure attachment style as a child. In that case, it'd be easy for you to maintain relationships as an adult.

Having a secure attachment style means you're level-headed and you desire clarity. Your ability to communicate well will help you thrive in your personal and social life.


Inconsistent and unresponsive care influences an insecure attachment. The unmet needs, trauma, and neglect you felt as a child are sources of attachment issues you'll carry through adulthood. This attachment style can lead to different attachment issues in children and adults.

When you're an insecure attachment style, you tend to fluctuate. It will be hard to form consistent and meaningful relationships unless an intervention like therapy is applied.

Anxious Preoccupied

This type of attachment style means that your needs as a child were inconsistently met. You carry out that dissatisfaction in life, and it's manifested through your self-worth. You feel a great desire to be wanted, but you always doubt your worth. This can manifest in your relationships at school, work, or with your loved ones.

If you're anxious-preoccupied, you want constant communication, interaction, and reassurance. Others may find you as "adorably clingy" or taxing.

Dismissive Avoidant

People with this kind of attachment style tend to keep their boundaries strict and firm. That's because they were reared in a disciplined environment.

They box themselves in their idea of what "strong" or "independent" is. This makes it hard for them to be emotionally vulnerable to other people. Forming and maintaining close relationships with them is hard. It may take a lifetime for them to open up.

Fearful Avoidant

If you're someone with a fearful avoidant attachment style, you tend to be uncomfortable to have super close relationships. The lack of deep bonds in your childhood makes you naive or afraid of deep-rooted relationships as you grow.

When you're an adult, deep-rooted relationships may feel strange or awkward to you. In fact, you seek to form relationships but you withdraw from them entirely when you feel the demand for intimacy. This makes you feel conflicted because you want to commit. But, it's hard when you're in a situation that asks for a deeper relationship, so you avoid it.

The Attachment Issues Theory

John Bowlby first described the psychological theory of attachment in the 1950s. It's a psychological theory that explains how and why you form close relationships with other people. This theory said that our early experiences in life could cause us to develop expectations and behavior that affect our relationships throughout our lives.

When combined, attachment theory and psychotherapy are processes that aid in understanding one's attachment style. The therapy aims to address the negative early attachment experiences of a person and promote a greater understanding of oneself.

Causes of Attachment Issues

When your attachment style affects your ability to have a great relationship with yourself, work, school, or loved ones, it creates attachment issues. The following are causes of Attachment Issues:

  • Emotional neglect or abandonment by the caregiver
  • Physical abuse or violence
  • Financial issues or joblessness of caregiver
  • The caregiver's mental health
  • Homelessness
  • Inability to provide healthcare
  • You have multiple or changing caregivers
  • Experienced accidents
  • The caregiver's insensitivity or apathy to your needs

Attachment issues happen when you experience trauma or neglect as a child. These tough experiences shape your responses and expression over time. The behaviors you developed have an impact on your relationships.

Related: What is Clinical Anxiety?

Attachments issues can also increase your risk of experiencing mental health problems like anxiety, depression, or substance use disorder. This is why it's essential to understand your attachment styles and make sense of them.

Related: Understanding Depression

Signs If You're Experiencing Attachment Issues

An interplay of many factors and situations can lead to an increase in attachment issues. If you happen to experience or manifest the following symptoms, seek a qualified mental health professional who can help you with your attachment issues.

  • Recurring relationship problems
  • Anxiety
  • Unpredictable changes in mood
  • Unresponsive or resistant to comforting
  • Socially withdrawn or avoidant
  • Violates social and personal boundaries
  • Seeks attention from anyone
  • Limited experience of positive emotions
  • Use of hostility or manipulation to control other people
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse or alcoholism
  • Inability to maintain relationships

Most signs of attachment issues are identical to symptoms of other mental health problems. That's why it's important to consult a qualified mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Related: Substance Use Disorder: What Is It?

Attachment issues, when unaddressed, will significantly affect your relationships and well-being. Working your way through this takes a great deal of effort. But, know that there are mental health resources that can give you support. They can help you address and resolve your attachment issues.

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