Attachment Styles in Adulthood

Studies of persons with borderline personality disorder, characterized by a longing for intimacy and a hypersensitivity to rejection, have shown a high prevalence and severity of insecure attachment.

Attachment styles in adulthood have labels similar to those used to describe attachment patterns in children:

  • Secure
  • Anxious-preoccupied (high anxiety, low avoidance)
  • Dismissing-avoidant (low anxiety, high avoidance)
  • Fearful-avoidant (high anxiety, high avoidance)

However, attachment styles may be better thought of as dimensional, where a person rates as relatively high, low, or somewhere in the middle in their levels of attachment-related anxiety and attachment-related avoidance. Also, a person may not exhibit the same kind of attachment pattern in every close relationship.

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