How to Identify Your Attachment Style

How do you bond with the people you love? Do you establish relationships based on emotional security or do you fear abandonment? If you want to know what your attachment style is, take the following test.
How to Identify Your Attachment Style
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 24 April, 2024

Secure, avoidant, anxious/ambivalent, or disorganized: what’s your attachment style? Many of us are interested to know our patterns of relating to others. This curiosity often originates from seeing that several of our relationships fail and realizing that the universe of affection is full of winding paths, fears, and unsatisfied needs.

Although attachment styles are formed in childhood and are often long-lasting, they sometimes change over time as a result of new emotional experiences with other figures.

For this reason, having an idea of your own psycho-emotional pattern in the sphere of relationships helps you understand which aspects you can improve to establish more satisfactory and lasting ties. You can uncover this information by carrying out some really simple exercises.

“Attachment is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness. Though it gives you the power to love someone more than yourself, it becomes difficult to live when you lose something you are attached to.”

-Shahid Kapoor-

The importance of knowing your attachment style

Attachment theory (AT) was formulated by the English psychoanalyst, John Bowlby, in the 1970s. Later, one of his students, Mary Ainsworth, expanded on his studies by describing three attachment styles: secure, ambivalent, and avoidant. Finally, in 1986, researchers Main and Solomon introduced the last category: disorganized-insecure.

In recent years, AT has acquired great importance in the psychotherapeutic field. Indeed, understanding the attachment style that defines each individual facilitates a broad vision of their emotional needs, life history, ways of relating to their environment, and even the origins of certain problematic behaviors.

A study conducted by the University of Minnesota (USA) claims that insecure and anxious attachment in adulthood can cause the failure of many relationships. Therefore, knowing where you are on this spectrum can be extremely revealing.

You might also like to read Disorganized Attachment

How to find out your attachment style

If you’re wondering what your attachment style is, you simply need to take a little test. Below, you’ll see four sections that evaluate each typology on the basis of ten statements.

Read the sentences carefully and write down on a piece of paper how many you identify with. Finally, compare the score obtained in each classification to discover which attachment style defines you the most.

Embraced couple symbolizing how to know what my attachment style is
We can all exhibit more than one type of attachment style.

1. Ambivalent anxious attachment

The ambivalent anxious attachment style has its origins in unpredictable caregivers when it comes to conferring security, affection, and attention on their children. This uncertainty and inconsistent response leads to a lack of coherence in the provision of care. Moreover, it produces an over-activation in the children’s brains in areas related to anxiety.

This unpredictability projects insecurity, which ends up translating into emotional dependence on others. Consequently, the individual lives in constant fear that they’ll be abandoned. It isn’t easy growing up with this kind of emotional insecurity and ambivalence from the caregiver.

In adulthood, paying continuous attention to what others are doing produces great cognitive wear. How many of the dimensions belonging to this sphere do you identify with?

  • I’m possessive and jealous.
  • I need constant validation.
  • I never feel loved enough.
  • I have repeated emotional ups and downs.
  • My biggest fear is abandonment.
  • I often question my worth as a person.
  • I always need the attention of others.
  • I worry excessively about every little detail of my relationship.
  • I’ve had many toxic relationships based on emotional dependency.
  • I’m always on alert and aware of any signs that may warn me that my partner is cheating on me, doesn’t love me, or isn’t interested in me.

Number of statements with which I identify: _______

2. Avoidant attachment

Avoidance is another unhealthy attachment style. A study conducted by the University of Illinois (USA) claims that this typology usually predicts the possible appearance of anxiety disorders and depression in adolescence.

The root of this attachment style lies in caregivers who didn’t know or didn’t want to attend to, regulate, or understand the emotional needs of their child. In response, the child assumes that the best way to avoid feeling more rejection is to disconnect from their emotions and stop expressing them. The consequences of this experience are immense in adulthood. See if you identify with any of the following:

  • It’s hard for me to commit.
  • I don’t like to express what I feel.
  • I know that I’m usually cold with people.
  • Emotional intimacy is uncomfortable for me.
  • I see many failures and defects in my partners.
  • I usually suppress my emotions and needs.
  • I have a hard time understanding what others are feeling.
  • When they ask me to express what I feel I get angry.
  • I prioritize my independence at all costs in relationships.
  • I don’t like to share my thoughts, dreams, and desires with my partners.

Number of statements with which I identify: _______

3. Disorganized attachment

Growing up in a hostile family environment always comes at a cost. For example, it can cause trauma, fear, dissociation, and the development of disorganized attachment. In this case, the trigger lies in a childhood dominated by abuse or extremely dysfunctional dynamics on the part of the caregivers.

These black holes from the past translate into a typology that manifests itself in maturity as follows:

  • I don’t know how to regulate my emotions.
  • I’ve had partners who mistreated me.
  • I have many unhealed traumas.
  • I know that my behavior is sometimes contradictory.
  • I think that people, in general, aren’t to be trusted.
  • I feel defective and have really low self-esteem.
  • I want others to love me, but I’m terrified that they’ll hurt me.
  • I know that, in any relationship, my partner will always end up leaving me.
  • I’d like to be able to love better, but my fears and anxiety spoil everything.
  • I need to be in control in a relationship to ensure that I don’t get hurt.

♥ Number of statements with which I identify: _______

If you identify with maladaptive attachment patterns, such as disorganized or avoidant, you can work on them and make changes.

4. Secure attachment

Secure attachment enables people to build healthier bonds, defined by good emotional intimacy, maturity, trust, and effective communication. Having affectionate caregivers, competent in emotional intelligence and capable of nurturing needs, provides optimal strengths for socio-affective development.

In this list, are the factors to consider to figure out if this type of attachment defines you.

  • I’m not afraid of being abandoned.
  • I don’t mistrust people.
  • I feel loved and respected.
  • I have good self-esteem.
  • I know how to express to my partner what I need.
  • I communicate assertively and empathetically.
  • I understand and attend to the emotions of my loved ones.
  • I surround myself with emotionally enriching people.
  • I trust my ability to build healthy bonds.
  • It’s not difficult for me to become intimate or build good complicity with others.

Number of statements with which I identify: _______

Recognizing your attachment style is essential if you want to make changes and build satisfying relationships.

Woman kissing her partner symbolizing how to know what my attachment style is
Many of us are defined by the secure attachment style.

Final assessment

To find out what your attachment style is, compare the results you obtained from the statements above. Although you’ve no doubt scored in all of them, one will stand out. The types of attachment described here are pure but, in reality, none of us are so pure. But, you’ll probably find that you score higher in one of the profiles.

However, sometimes, even if you may fit one personality profile, the way you behave can depend on the context and could mimic another style. For example, you might have a secure attachment style but, on occasion, fall victim to insecurity and behave with an anxious style. This is completely normal. The good news is that doing so and identifying this pattern gives information about what your real fears are, and prevents them from remaining in your unconscious.

Finally, if you find yourself with a maladaptive attachment style, don’t hesitate to request specialized help. There are valid therapies that can facilitate a change toward feelings of well-being and happiness.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.