Did you know that each and every one of us has an attachment style?
In February, I released my most important spiritual work to date. Happy Days: The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace is a handbook for deep, transformational healing. In the book, I share the spiritual and therapeutic tools that I used to elevate every area of my life — including my relationships!
In chapter 9 of the book, I introduce “attachment styles.” If you’ve never even heard that term, don’t sweat it! I’m going deep with attachment styles in today’s episode of the Dear Gabby podcast, and you’ll learn all about them.
What Are Attachment Styles?
But first, I want to give you a little context. Check out this passage from Happy Days:
As children, many of us did not foster a secure attachment with our primary caregivers because our core needs of being seen and secure were not met. Throughout our lives, we’ve been hiding or exiling the parts of ourselves that had unmet needs due to a breach in attachment. We’ve left those wounded inner child parts in the dark because we learned that they didn’t matter or that they were shameful. That emotional denial didn’t just go away. In fact, it has dictated the course of our lives. We’ve lived through the perceptual lens of our early attachment wounds, which can affect every area of life. Learning about attachment styles was a way for me to see myself through the lens of compassion. I could see how I was able to care for myself in the dark moments and guide myself to safety. Happy Days, Chapter 9, Page 179
Learn to See Yourself
If you’re not aware of your attachment style, you might not even realize that you can break free from old patterns. “Oh, that’s just the way I am in relationships,” you might think — and fall into yet another relationship that doesn’t serve you.
But when you start to recognize why you act the way that you do in relationships, it’s like a light turns on! You find a deeper sense of compassion for everyone around you — and most importantly, for yourself.
When you understand your attachment style, you can start to undo any patterns that have blocked you from finding freedom, support and connection in all of your relationships.
What’s Your Attachment Style?
So, are you ready to learn your attachment style? Fire up this episode of Dear Gabby! This is a BIG one, and you’ll walk away from it feeling empowered to finally pursue the relationships you crave!
- The three types of attachment style — secure, anxious, and avoidant — and which one best describes you (I’ll also break down the styles in this blog — keep scrolling!)
- How to identify others’ attachment styles, and feel deeper compassion for everyone around you (even for your ex!)
- Why you behave the way that you do in relationships
- And, why anyone can overcome uncomfortable attachment styles and finally find freedom and ease in relationships
A Guide to Each Attachment Style
Since this whole concept might be new to you, I wanted to share some more information on each attachment style. As you read, see if you recognize yourself in any of the descriptions below.
It’s OK to be vulnerable and admit to yourself that you might have anxious or avoidant tendencies. Believe me, I’ve been there! And if you recognize that you have a secure attachment style, celebrate that!
Awareness of your attachment style is the first step to overcoming any setbacks you’re facing in your relationships. Be proud of yourself for taking this step.
Psst …. if you want to skip ahead and learn your attachment style in 2 minutes, check out the “What’s Your Attachment Style?” quiz! I designed this to make it super easy for you to find your attachment style!
If you have a secure attachment style, chances are that you grew up in an environment where you felt safe. You had a strong bond with your primary caregivers — you knew that you could rely on them, no matter what.
If you have a secure attachment style, you’re comfortable asking for what you need, and you share your feelings openly. You also have strong boundaries …. and a clear sense of what to do when those boundaries are crossed. A secure attachment style allows you to enjoy relationships, and to find success in them.
I used to have an anxious attachment style! So if you can relate to anything that I’m about to describe, know that you are not alone.
If you have an anxious attachment style, you tend to be afraid of losing a relationship. So, you might cling to others for fear of losing a relationship … even if that relationship is not right for you. You might override your own needs for fear of pushing the other person away.
And, even though you crave intimacy, you’re wary of trusting others. This can create a push-pull that’s quite overwhelming at times!
Don’t worry: There is a way out. And, you’re taking the first step toward freeing yourself by reading this blog right now.
If you have an avoidant attachment style, it’s possible that you had unmet needs as a child. As such, you’ve built up a belief system over time that no one can meet your needs, and you are wary of trusting others.
You could even have an unconscious mantra that says: I have to do everything myself, because no one else is going to do it. Who could blame you? You’ve been disappointed by others in the past, and are determined to not let that happen again. But, that might come at a cost. Without even realizing it, you might have built up walls that prevent other people from really getting to know you.
I honor any feelings of discomfort you may face in relationships. Know that in this moment, you are safe — and you are doing brave work to get to know yourself better.
You Can Change!
As you become more aware of your attachment styles, you’ll start to witness the relationship patterns you’ve built up over time. But no matter what those patterns are, I have good news:
You are not the victim of your attachment style.
Knowledge is power. The more you know about yourself and your attachment style, the easier it will be for you to heal the core wounds that live beneath the patterns that hold you back. And no matter which attachment style you identify with now, you can become secure! This is important: Forming secure bonds with others isn’t just something you see in a rom-com: It’s a biological need. Individuals who are in secure, attached relationships feel more at ease, live with less anxiety and tend to be more creative!
Take the “What’s Your Attachment Style” Quiz
You may have a sense of what your attachment style is based on today’s episode of Dear Gabby, and based on this blog post.
But my “What’s Your Attachment Style?” quiz takes it one step farther! Once you unlock your attachment style, I’ll give you personalized methods you can use to heal your relationship wounds. And, I’ll give you crystal-clear direction on how to create a sense of safety within your own system, so that you can show up for all your relationships with a more secure energy.
I can promise you this: As you become more aware of your attachment style, your relationships will shift in miraculous ways. This episode of Dear Gabby — and this quiz! — will serve you in many, many ways.
Get More Gabby
The following are helpful resources and books I mention within the episode:
If you want to discover your attachment style AND get crystal-clear direction on how to find deep fulfillment in all of your relationships, carve out two minutes! That’s all the time you need and take my free “What’s Your Attachment Style?” quiz.
In my latest book Happy Days, I share tools that you can use to find a deeper sense of security in all your relationships. This book is a guided path from trauma to profound freedom and inner peace. I pray that it lands in the hands of anyone who needs it.
Want more support? I created the Miracle Membership to help you design a spiritual practice you can stick to—so you can feel connected, supported and inspired every day. Each week I deliver brand new workshops, guided meditations, community connection, and so much more. Plus, it’s easy to access on your phone, computer or tablet. Click here to join.
If you need additional support or are seeking a trauma therapist near you, please check out my list of Mental Health Resources. I’m proud of you for being here.
The following podcast is a Dear Media production.
Hi there, Gabby here. This podcast is intended to educate, inspire, and support you on your personal journey towards inner peace. I’m not a psychologist or a medical doctor,...
The following podcast is a Dear Media production.
Hi there, Gabby here. This podcast is intended to educate, inspire, and support you on your personal journey towards inner peace. I’m not a psychologist or a medical doctor, and do not offer any professional health or medical advice. If you are suffering from a psychological or medical condition, please seek help from a qualified health professional.
This is gonna be an episode that’s going to change your life forever. If you struggle in relationships, this episode is for you. I can just imagine all of you in your cars or in your kitchens, just raising your hand, being like maybe me, me, me! I’m struggling with relationships. I’m not laughing. We all have relationship stuff because our relationships are a mirror reflection of whatever it is that we need to heal.
And one of the fastest ways to reclaiming love and compassion and joy and freedom in relationships is to understand your attachment style. It’s the key to finding freedom. It’s the key to finding connection and support in your relationships and communicating properly. So this whole episode is dedicated to helping you understand the different types of attachment styles, what they mean to you, and how you can begin to use that knowledge to greatly benefit your relationships.
And it gets even better. Stick around to the end. I talk about this amazing attachment quiz that I created. It’s a free two-minute quiz. You can just go to deargabby.com/attachment. Take the quiz. You’ll find out from the quiz, what your attachment style is. You’ll learn about how you can use your attachment style as a force for good in the world.
You will learn my exact methods for how to really calm and soothe yourself with the specific attachment style that you have so that you can start to feel that freedom and all of your relationships, particularly the romantic ones. After the episode, head over to deargabby.com/attachment and take the two-minute quiz.
Learn your attachment style. Get my guidance and thank me later, people. Thank me later and give this quiz to all of your friends. Particularly if you have a romantic partner, see if they’ll take it too—deargabby.com/attachment.
Hey there. Welcome to Dear Gabby. I’m your host Gabby Bernstein. And if you landed here, it is absolutely no accident. It means that you’re ready to feel good and manifest a life beyond your wildest dreams. Let’s get started.
Welcome back to Dear Gabby. I am sure that if you’re pressing play on this episode, you have a desire to feel more free in your relationships. You’re ready to feel more connected, feel more supported. Maybe you want to change some of your patterns in relationships, and we can’t necessarily change those patterns unless we have a greater awareness of why those patterns have been put in their place in the first place and where they came from.
And often we just think, oh, this is just how I am in relationships or all men leave or all relationships turn into chaos. Or when I get close to somebody, I want to run. And you just think that it’s just who you are, but it actually goes far back. It goes much further back than you can even imagine. It goes as far back as to the moment you were born.
And when we are brought into our homes, whatever home that may be—good, bad, seemingly good. No matter what it might have been for you, we establish an attachment bond to our parents and that attachment bond then creates the type of attachment style that we will experience in relationships into our adult lives.
And so, I’m gonna introduce you to the three different attachment styles that really relate to relationships, and when you tap into these different styles, you can start to get to know yourself a little bit better. You can understand why your partners or ex-partners are the way they are. It hopefully will give you a tremendous amount of compassion for yourself and compassion for the people in your life, for the partners in your life, for the folks that you’ve been in relationship with, even your bosses or your family members, or your close friends. But particularly these attachment styles show up in romantic relationships often and relationships that are really meaningful.
The ones that we look for those kinds of bonds. And in some cases, we may have such a lack of awareness about our attachment style that we just think that’s who we are. And I’m going to bust that myth today for you. And so these attachment styles start off when we’re really young and they come from the different types of parenting that we may have had.
So let’s say you grew up in a household where it was really secure and you felt safe, and you knew that that bond was strong between you and your parent. You knew you could rely on them. You knew that there was a place to come to no matter what; you had a sense of safety inside and outside. And you were never questioning. Will they show up? Will they not show up? It was a steady relationship to your parents. That is known as a secure attachment.
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I’ll start with secure attachment, because I believe that it’s important to see where we can get to. And we absolutely, even if you identify with one of the more uncomfortable attachment styles, you can move into more of a secure attachment. For instance, I was a different attachment style, pretty insecure attachment style that I’ll share with you next.
And as I started to do the inner work, as I started to practice the practices and the principles that I share in Happy Days, the more I became in tune with my potential to be more securely attached. And I’m telling you, there’s a way out; there really is.
So when you have a secure attachment style, it’s a great asset for you in your life because it helps you feel resilient. It allows you to be confident you trust people. You, like I said, probably have a secure environment that you grew up in. You likely grew up believing that your caregivers had positive, loving intentions, and that will serve you as an adult and being securely attached means that you’re comfortable asking for what you need and sharing your feelings openly.
That is super important that you are comfortable asking for what you need and sharing your feelings openly. And not in a way that’s manipulative in a genuine way. This is how I’m feeling. You have a lot of self-esteem, you enjoy intimate relationships, you feel successful in relationships, you enjoy them.
And you can really just start to notice that you have that secure attachment style when your relationships aren’t necessarily drama-free, but they don’t have lots of drama and you attract people that are hopefully, reflecting back that secure attachment style. And your attachment qualities. If you’re a securely attached person, you trust your romantic partners, you easily express your feelings and needs.
You seek out social support when you think you need it. You’re naturally supportive and emotionally stable. You have strong boundaries. That’s a big one—strong boundaries and a clear sense of what to do when those boundaries are crossed. And you see the good in yourself, you have compassion for yourself. You see the good in others, you give people the benefit of the doubt and just relationships come easily to you.
And so, look, not a lot of us grew up with this kind of secure attachment style, but a good half of the population, if not a little bit more, have a secure attachment style. And that’s, that’s a good thing. It’s been very beneficial for many people and it’s created a lot of resilience in their life. And so I want to really introduce you to the other two attachment styles.
Just to give you a sense of how you can witness your other partners. So even though you are securely attached, you might call in a partner that is quite the opposite. And while you have a steadiness and a secure energy, you may not know how to navigate or manage or handle the relationships if they’re off balance for you.
So I’m going to introduce you to the next attachment style, which is an anxiously attached person. I am a recovering anxious attachment style, and that anxious attachment style really created a lot of drama in my life in romantic relationships and work relationships. It was the backbone for my codependent behavior.
I just want you to know I really honor your struggles if you identify as an anxiously attached person. Because I’ve been there. I know that is a tough one to move through. And when you have that knowledge of this attachment style, it’s power, it’s great power because it gives you the chance to really go deeper into your subconscious and really understand why you are the way you are and the patterns that you have.
In this anxious attachment style, you likely are afraid of losing a relationship. So you’re constantly fawning and clinging and trying to keep the relationship steady and safe. And even if that relationship is not right for you, you’re going to hold on to it. And I remember thinking about that in my history, my relationships, I would stay in the relationship a lot longer than it needed to be stuck around.
I would hold on tightly because of my, I was much more afraid of being alone. I only felt safe in that relationship, in a relationship. Anxiously attached people crave stability, and they crave security. So therefore you’re really craving a bond with someone and you crave that because they often didn’t have that in their own childhood.
So they’re going to cling in relationships. They’re going to hide their own needs for fear of pushing the other person away, really overriding yourself. Anxiously attached people will override themselves so that they can make sure that the bond is secure. That can be really overwhelming. Now you have some beautiful qualities as an anxiously attached person.
You’re really caring. You’re sensitive, you’re empathetic. You’re attuned to the needs of others. You’re wary of trusting others, even though you deeply crave that security. So there’s this, this almost this, this pull, this push and pull. It’s like, you want that security and you want that connection and you want that bond, but then you don’t trust it.
So that’s really conflicting for you. And it’s tough in your relationships because it doesn’t allow for vulnerability. You have low self-esteem. Sometimes it may be, particularly in relationships.
You’re extremely sensitive to the actions and moods of others. So it’s almost like you can be like a sponge soaking up what other people’s energy is putting out, and you may have experienced inconsistent parenting in your childhood, and that, that inconsistency in the parenting may look like your parent is sometimes showing up and sometimes they’re not.
And some days they show up and they’re, they’re secure and soothing. And the next day they’re completely a different personality or energy or it’s, it’s a very back and forth, and there’s a lot of anxiety in it. You don’t know if they’re going to come or they’re going to go, you don’t know what they’ll be like in their temper the next day.
And so that creates a lot of anxiety in the attachment bond. And as children, what we need most is a strong, secure attachment in order to establish and develop the resilience that we so need. And the faith in ourselves and the value in ourselves and a sense of safety in the world. So if you’re a child and your parent caregiver figure is inconsistent in that sense of safety and security, then you are going to feel very anxious in that bond.
And you’re going to work really hard to keep the bond no matter what, even when it’s not healthy. And then that begins to project into your future relationships, creating a lot of anxious attachment style and behavior in those future romantic relationships.
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Understanding that attachment style of anxious attachment is important because oftentimes anxiously attached people can attract the opposite, which is the avoidant attached person. And the avoidantly attached person is the one that typically doesn’t want to establish the bond. So I’ll go into that one next, but I just want you to see that when you’re an anxiously attached person, and then you attract this other type of attachment style, it will be very activating.
The final attachment style and relationships that we want to be aware of is the avoidant attachment style. Often avoidantly attached people who live with that attachment style had unmet needs as children, and they built up a belief system that carries into adulthood.
You might believe that no one can meet your needs. And this will greatly affect you in the way you behave in relationships. Because if you don’t think that anyone can show up for you, you live with this mantra of, I got to do it myself, nobody else is going to do it. I got to do it. And it creates a lot of blocks, boundaries, walls up. You have a lot of walls up because the fear of the disappointment that someone will not care for you is so intense and strong, that you actually want to avoid it at all costs by protecting yourself with the avoidant attachment style.
Well, I’m not going to even expect anything. And being in an avoidant attachment style means that you shy away from closeness and deep emotional connection with others. So there’s no room for vulnerability in these relationships. You value your personal space and freedom, and you pride yourself on your self-reliance, but it might come at a cost. And so now that you have this adult experience in this avoidant attachment style, you would likely be the one that gets really hot and heavy early in the relationship. And then very quickly just is like done moving on as if nothing happened. You want the intensity, but then you don’t want to commit. That is a tough one for an anxiously attached partner, but typically anxious attachment styles will attract avoidant attachment styles. It can be challenging. And we’re going to talk about that, but when you have an avoidant attachment style, you might be turned off when your partner is too clingy.
So if you have an anxious attachment person and you have an avoidant attachment style coming together, it’s going to create a lot of chaos because you’re annoyed by their clingyness and that makes them want to cling more. That can be very uncomfortable for both. You really value your independence.
You’re a very good decision-maker, which is interesting. It’s a good characteristic and you make decisions decisively. You might feel uncomfortable being vulnerable, very likely. You’re very uncomfortable being vulnerable because that means that you’d have to let down your guard. That means that you might open up more to somebody.
That means that you might open up to the possibility that you could be hurt. And those childhood wounds of being hurt and not cared for in the ways that you needed have built up that protection mechanism of being an avoidant attachment style. And you also pull back when your relationship starts to get serious.
Let me think about that one and think about that one. And as you started to look more closely at this attachment style, you’re going to understand that these tendencies and patterns originated from a very early age and you’ve just been developing them and building them up and building them up and building them up to a point where now you actually just think that’s who you are, but there’s great news.
Really good news. You are not the victim of your attachment style. I introduce attachment styles in Happy Days. And I give a lot of lessons in that chapter about how to reparent yourself because a lot of the attachment wounds from our childhood come from the ways that we needed to have that secure bond and we didn’t have it.
But what if you began to create that secure bond for yourself? And the first step is to understand your attachment style. Knowledge is power. Knowing who you are, knowing where you came from, knowing the habits that you’ve built up over time, that awareness of your behavior, without any judgment, with only compassion, only love, only compassionate energy towards yourself begins the journey of first understanding why you are, who you are and why you do the things you do in relationships.
And then the more you are aware of that relationship style, the easier it will be for you to begin to open the door for possibilities for growth and change. And that growth and change can come from a book like Happy Days. That growth and change can come from episodes here on Dear Gabby. And the first step though is to really accept your attachment style and understand it and understand that of your, of your partners and the types of partners you attract.
Because today you might be thinking, oh my God, I’m such an anxious attachment style. And I keep attracting avoidant attachment style. And that’s why it’s such a disaster because I keep clinging and they keep running and you may be able to see that so clearly, or maybe you’re in a secure attachment style, but you’re in a relationship with an anxious attachment style.
So it can help you have more compassion towards the anxiously attached person and just make sure that they’re really loved and cared for and you help them feel safe. So understanding your style and the style of the partners that you’re attracting is the first step to beginning to heal these core wounds that live beneath the patterns that have held us back for so many years, that have kept us from attracting the relationships that we long for, that have kept us from being free in our relationships. Being free and safe, being vulnerable, that have kept us from sharing our authentic truth. Because it was too scary.
And that connection and that bond in a relationship is what we crave most. Our DNA is actually set up for it and, you know, people are like, oh, I can go through life without a relationship. I’m so independent. It’s actually not the healthiest approach to life because those individuals who are in more secure, attached relationships or in relationship to another person intimately feel often work creative in life, more free, more intuitive, more at ease, less anxiety because they feel that biological need is met. The attachment need is met.
And so I want you to take this very seriously. I want you to start by really recognizing and understanding your style. I’m going to make it even easier for you. I just put out this free quiz and it’s to figure out your attachment style. And when you take the quiz, you will right away walk away knowing exactly what your attachment style is. You might have a sense based on what I’ve shared with you today, but in the quiz, you’re going to be able to walk away and say, this is my attachment style, but I take it a step further.
I explained to you what your style is. And then I give you spiritual and practical methods to start to self-soothe. I give you guidance on how to show up in your relationships with more ease, and I give you clear, crystal-clear direction on how to begin the journey of witnessing your style in the moment. Soothing yourself in the moment, creating that sense of safety within your own system so that you can then show up for your relationship with more secure energy.
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And I often find actually I’ve been with my therapist for over a decade, and sometimes I find that my best sessions are done over the phone because sometimes it just feels a little bit easier to go deeper. And it’s much more affordable than in-person therapy. So give it a try and see if online therapy can help lower your stress.
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I built this attachment quiz because it’s something that I desperately wanted when I was really starting to explore why I was struggling so much in relationships, why I was sort of, co-dependent why I was so afraid of being alone.
If I had had this quiz and the results that I have offered you 10, 15 years ago, I would’ve saved myself a lot of drama in relationships. So I want to help you get a jumpstart. So all you have to do is go to deargabby.com/attachment and just take the free quiz. It’ll take you two minutes or less. And you’ll get your results.
You’ll get a full breakdown of your attachment style, exactly where you’re at, and then you’ll get the lessons and the methods that I applied to the specific attachment styles. I’m going to give you meditations. Every single attachment style gets a brand-new meditation for their attachment style. So you can start practicing that meditation.
You’re going to get soothing practices to help yourself create more security in your own inner systems so that you can feel more secure in your life and your relationships. If you end up having a secure attachment, it’ll give you lessons and practices for how to create more safety in the relationship to those who do not feel safe, and it will help you understand the partners that you have so much more.
Now, here’s what I really recommend. I recommend you if it’s not too pushy and it’s not going to set your partner off the edge, see if they want to take the quiz with you—a friend, a partner, a coworker. And understanding each other’s attachment styles will really help you establish a stronger bond. It will give you a sense of freedom and safety within that relationship because the more you know about someone, the more compassionate you can be. The more curious you can be towards them.
The more calm you can be in their presence. When we establish that sense of mutual compassion for each other and each other’s history and the wounds that we’ve built up, you no longer have to look at the partner with rage and anger because they’re not showing up the way that you want them to, but instead, you can see them through the lens of love.
You can see them through the lens of understanding. You can see them through the lens of compassion. And when you see someone through the lens of compassion, you begin to open up to creative possibilities for what that relationship could be rather than what you think it is. That awareness, that connection, that bond only happens with that greater understanding of why you are the way you are, why you’ve attracted this partner who often ignites the wounds within you, and why that partner ended up the way they are so that you can then together hopefully heal those attachment styles so that you feel more free.
And again, that freedom and relationships and that connection, and that bond is so important to our nervous system. It’s so important to our ability to feel creative. I know for myself, when my husband and I started to really work out our own attachment styles, and began to create and establish a stronger bond through all the beautiful transformational work we’ve done together. The more creative I became in the world, the more free I felt in my body. The more relaxed and soothed I felt in my home and the same for him.
The two of us have been able to just expand our own personal worlds and our family as a result of really taking care of the bond. And above all else, you have to really care for the bond and the relationship, but without the awareness and the understanding and the practices, there’s no conscious connection to why the bond would be broken in any given moment.
So go to deargabby.com/attachment. Take the quiz, follow my guidance. I literally break down steps for you to help you become more comfortable in your attachment style and start to use the qualities that are beautiful and start to heal and soothe some of the qualities that are creating issues in your life.
And I also give you a meditation that’s completely dedicated to your attachment style. Do this with your girlfriends at brunch, two minutes. Just takes two minutes, talk about it. Share about it. Share with your therapist, share it with your friends, share it with your partner, share it with your coworkers when it’s appropriate. And start to learn more about who you are, why you are, where you came from so that you can heal in this present moment and become secure and safe in your inner system and your inner mind. And in your relationships.
You deserve that, you need that. You need that biologically. And it’s completely possible. So head over to deargabby.com/attachment. Take the free two-minute quiz and come back to the show and leave me a review, letting me know what your attachment style is and something that you learned from it, something that came through for you when you started to take the steps to respect, honor and nurture your individual attachment style. I truly hope this serves you in many, many ways. And I look forward to hearing all of the miracles that transpire when you start to apply these steps.
See you next time on Dear Gabby.
If you made it to the end of this episode, that means you’re truly committed to miracles. I’m really proud of you. If you want to get more Gabby, tune in every Monday for a new episode. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the guidance or special bonus episodes. Your experience at this show means a lot to me.
So I really want to welcome you to leave an honest review and you can follow me on social media @Gabby Bernstein. And if you want to get in on the action, sign up for a chance to be Dear Gabby’d live at deargabby.com. See you next week.