Secure Attachment in Friendships

Photo by Alicia Jones on Unsplash

There are four relationship attachment styles:

Anxious, Avoidant, Fearful, and Secure.

In my last three posts, I discussed how anxious, avoidant, and fearful attachment styles can show up in the context of friendship.

In today’s post, I’ll discuss the secure attachment style in friendship.

Secure Attachment & Friendship:

Secure friends are comfortable being emotionally intimate and conveying interest and affection, but are also comfortable being independent and self-reliant. They conduct their interpersonal relationships with healthy boundaries.

How Does a Secure Attachment Develop?

The concept of attachment styles comes from Attachment Theory, originated by psychoanalyst John Bowlby. Attachment Theory examines the relationship between a child and their parent or primary caregiver, and explains how a child’s attachment to their parent or caregiver impacts the child’s behavior in other relationships in life, such as with partners or friends.

A person may develop a secure attachment style if during childhood they experienced their parent or primary caregivers as consistently available to provide soothing and comfort when needed, balanced with support and freedom to explore and master their environment.

In the case of secure attachment, the parent/caregiver was neither overly-enmeshed or dependent on the child, nor were they frightening or inconsistently available (physically, emotionally, or otherwise). Instead, a person with secure attachment experienced the confidence and security that comes from knowing that they have a consistent, caring and supportive caregiver to whom they could turn for comfort and encouragement when needed, and who also gave them the freedom to explore and build confidence in terms of their own relationship to the world.

A securely attached person tends to view both themselves and others in a positive and competent light. They feel that they can get their needs met and are not easily threatened by the demands of relationships or other major areas of life.

A securely attached individual will usually be able to quickly discern whether a person or prospective relationship lacks the fundamentals of healthy relating (such as care, trust, respect, consistency), and will likely choose not to invest their time and energy if these fundamentals are not present.

In a relationship, a securely attached person will not allow their friend or partner to consume or dominate their lives; they are comfortable with a healthy balance of intimacy and independence.

If you identify as securely attached, here are some tips for staying on a secure path:

  • Remember that just because you are able to get along with many different types of people doesn’t mean you are obligated to be everyone’s friend. If you are not happy in a friendship, especially after having tried to make things work, it is okay to step back.
  • If you start to feel jealous, distrusting, worried, reluctant to express your honest feelings, or notice yourself holding back or playing games in a friendship, take this as a big red flag that this might not be a healthy friendship for you.
  • If you experience or have experienced the loss of a friendship, remind yourself that your belief system isn’t to blame, and focus on taking extra good care of yourself while you heal.

Do you have personal experience with a secure attachment style in friendships or other relationships? Feel free to share in the comments.

What’s YOUR friendship attachment style? Take the quiz and find out!

Sources:

Levine, A. & Heller, R. Attached (2010). New York, NY: Penguin.

“How to Cultivate a Secure Attachment With Your Child” by Diana Divecha: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_cultivate_a_secure_attachment_with_your_child

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This site is for informational purposes only. It isn’t intended to diagnose or treat any mental health problems and is not intended as psychological advice.
© 2020 Gina Davis, PsyD. All rights reserved.

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