Couples counseling in Palo Alto

Understanding Attachment Styles and How They Affect Your Relationships

Relationship counseling in Palo Alto often involves helping people understand their attachment style so that they can develop more meaningful relationships. While many people are aware of the different attachment styles, it can take some time for them to accept that their own style might be different from what they’d imagined.

If you’ve been noticing a pattern and similar themes reoccurring in all your relationships, couples counseling may have the answers you need. As a starting point, here’s what you should know about attachment styles:

Understanding the Attachment Theory

According to the theory, the relationship between a child and their parents or caregivers during the first few years of life—particularly infancy and early childhood—create certain expectations in the child’s mind.

These expectations, whether positive or negative, determine how the child will relate to other people and behave in all their relationships as an adult. In other words, they shape a person’s attachment style.

Attachment theory isn’t limited to romantic relationships, as it also includes:

What are Attachment Styles?

There are two basic attachment styles:

  • Secure attachment

  • Insecure attachment

Secure Attachment

Adults with a secure attachment style have a positive self-image and a positive opinion about others. As children, it’s likely that their needs were readily met, and their parents/caregiver were available to them.

In relationships, they practice open communication and flexibility. They’re able to convey their own needs as necessary, along with their partner’s needs.

Insecure Attachment

Insecure attachment can be one of three types:

1. Anxious-Preoccupied

An anxious-preoccupied adult will need a lot of reassurance, validation, and responsiveness from the person they’re attached to. This is often due to their parents or primary caregivers being distant or ignoring their needs as a child.

They tend to worry a lot about their relationships and take responsibility for the other person’s behavior. Their connection to another person will often include dependence.

2. Avoidant-Dismissive

Avoidant-dismissive adults have strong self-esteem, but they subconsciously look down on others. They seem to want unusual amounts of independence and might even try to avoid attachments in any form.

They’re not comfortable with intimacy and tend to be self-reliant to a fault. Any conflict or perceived rejection leads to them pushing away the relationship or attachment.

3. Avoidant-Fearful

Children who go through traumatic experiences or face a difficult childhood tend to become avoidant-fearful adults. They’re uncomfortable with emotional intimacy, tend to have low self-esteem, and mistrust the people in their lives.

Similar to avoidant-dismissive adults, avoidant-fearful people will often try to avoid deep attachments and suppress their own emotions.


You should think of these styles not as faults in your personality, but as an extension of your preferences.

No matter your attachment style, understanding it better is the first step to developing deep and meaningful relationships with other people.

Couples therapy in Palo Alto

At Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling, our experienced marriage counselor in Palo Alto is here to help you with relationship counseling, same sex couples counseling, marriage guidance counseling, therapy for infidelity, and sex therapy in Palo Alto.

Book your consultation by calling us at (650) 206-9973 or leaving us a message today.

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