Discovering Your Attachment Style

If you have not already done so, review the four styles of attachment and decide which one you most resemble. But remember, you are unlikely to fit any one style to a T. So pay attention to how your personal attachment style incorporates some of the characteristics of the other styles. For instance, are you basically secure but with a tendency toward doubting your self-worth (being preoccupied)? Also keep in mind that although you have a particular, characteristic style, it will likely vary a bit with different relationships.

Another way you can assess your style of attachment is to graph your ratings on the dimensions of anxiety and avoidance. Get a clean sheet of paper. (Graph paper is best, if you have it.) Draw a horizontal line and label it Anxiety. Place evenly spaced tic marks along it, numbering them from 0 to 10 (from left to right). Then, at the 5, draw a vertical line and label it Avoidance. Again, place evenly spaced tic marks along it and number them from 0 to 10 (from bottom to top, placing the 5 where this line crosses the horizontal line).

Now you have a graph that looks like figure 1. Copy the style descriptions from figure 1 into each of the quadrants on your graph. To determine your rating for attachment-related
anxiety and attachment-related avoidance, look back to the exercise “How Much Anxiety and Avoidance Do You Feel in Your Relationships?” Using your two ratings, plot where you fall in the quadrants and place a dot there. Not only will you see the style quadrant into which you fall, but you will also see how close you are to each of the other quadrants. The less extreme you are on each of the dimensions, the less your traits will match the prototypical style of the quadrant that you are in.

Along with revealing your attachment style, it also shows where you fall on a graph of attachment-related anxiety and attachment-related avoidance.

Once you are clear about your own attachment style, you might want to look at the attachment style of your partner or past partners. You can rate them the same way you rated yourself, using your observations about them and their behaviors. You can also have current partners rate themselves if they are open to it; the advantage of this is that it can open some illuminating and intimacy-building

In both cases, understanding their style of attachment will help you to better understand them and the relationship the two of you have or had.

Finally, knowing your attachment style is an effective first step to changing it. So you’ve already accomplished a lot just by getting to this point. Understanding how your style developed is also important.

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