Secure Attachment Style: Overview & Examples

lion with secure attachment

The secure attachment is one type of attachment style characterized by self-reliance, emotional maturity, and honest communcation.

This article explains what a secure attachment style, and how you can get one.

secure attachment couple

What is Secure Attachment

Secure attachment types enjoy intimacy and are comfortable with it.

They are comfortable in asking for intimacy, giving intimacy and talking about intimacy.
They are emotionally centered and tend to trust their partners and their partner’s love without the need of continuous confirmation.

When secure people like you, they show you so and they are not afraid of saying it.
Secure types also tend to provide more emotional and practical support, without withdrawing or playing any games.

When secure people date, they look for consistency and reciprocal investment. That means that they give, but they also expect to get back.
That’s the proper stance of enlightened collaborator, the approach most conducive to social -and life- success.
They despise games and don’t make it a big issue to screening out people that don’t respond to them -and that’s one of the reasons why I advise that playing nasty dating games backfires more often than not-.

Are secure types supermen?

No, they’re not supermen, but they do have a higher level of emotional intelligence compared to other attachment styles, are better at understanding their partners and they make, on average, for better relationships.

Luckily, this is something you can develop -this is what’s this website is all about after all-.

Here is a quick overview of how secure types are like:

Mindsets

Explanations

 No need for games

 Being close is what a relationship is about. I want it and my partner wants it too. And if not, I need someone else. No need for games.

Comfortable with intimacy

 I’m not afraid of being hurt -it sucks but I’d get over it- and I don’t need to run away. So I can fully enjoy intimacy.

 Treat partners well

 My partner is one of the persons closest to me. I can count on them and they can count of me. Of course I treat them well

Give and take

 I give in my relationship, and I expect the same from my partner. Relationship is about mutual support. If they can’t do that, they go.

 Take responsibility

 A relationship is built by two individuals. So, at the very least I control half of it. And I take responsibility for how my partner feels.

 Emotional intelligence

 I know that behind a partner’s criticism sometimes there’s fear, worry or anxiety. I don’t take it personally but help them express it.

Secure Attachment in Relationships

In a relationship the secure types tend to be:

  • Very good at conflict management: they don’t feed the need to act defensively or counterattack their partners
  • Quicker to forgive: they tend to a positive outlook of the relationship and of their partner, thus they blame less, and are quicker to forgive
  • Ready to commit: they tend to view sex and relationship more like two faces of the same coin. They are not afraid of commitment and “labeling” the relationship

In a relationship with a secure type you will experience less up and downs, and especially so if both partners are secure types.

Where Does Secure Come From?

secure attachment style

Some sources say a secure attachment stems mostly from parenting and to what’s called “attuned parenting” (Hendrix, 1988).

But these days that’s considered a limited view and it’s been overseeded by more recent studies.

Today the consensus is that attachment styles are the consequence of several different influences, including parenting, genetics and life experiences (Levine, 2010).

Here is a list of what contributes to the development of a secure attachment:

  • Mother sensitive to child’s needs
  • Easy temperament of the baby (makes it easier for parents to be responsive)
  • Good maternal conditions—marital satisfaction, low stress, no depression and social support
  • Fewer hours with a non-parental caretaker
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Life experiences (ie.: avoiding big romantic traumas)

If you’re a mother, avoid this behavior (from the movie Terms of Endearment):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJgBVgCVzq4

Waking up the child and then leaving the room is the opposite of what a mother should do, which is: help the child get to sleep and leave when the child sleeps.

Science of Secure Attachment

A laboratory experiment showed that secure attachment types have easy access in their brain to themes such as love, closeness and hugs and they don’t register as easily topics such as abandonment, loss and separation.

And contrary to avoidants, they still didn’t access those areas when they were distracted. This makes secure people very confident in their relationship.

They are also more able to switch off negative thought patterns when they want to, which makes them bounce back quicker after an argument. That means that secure people have stronger control of their emotional selves, and they don’t keep a grudge for days on end.

Definitely something we might want to emulate.

Secure Attachment Examples

I love the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words.
And a good video is worth a thousand pictures.

These video examples will clarify for you what’s a secure attachment:

#1. Not Afraid of Emotional Pain

Secure doesn’t mean cool, loving and loved all the times.

It also means asking for the truth when that truth might hurt. It’s the power of vulnerability.
Something that Ted from “How I Met Your Mother” shows very powerfully here:

The willingness to ask, to explore the emotional side of the relationship and the courage to show the heartbreak are signs of a secure attachment style. When he adds “forget I said anything” is a moment of weakness, but it’s understandable.

#2. Not Afraid of Emotional Honesty

Unluckily for Kay, The Godfather was a damn badass secure attachment example.

At least in this scene.

Then he changed.
But in this scene, he is very vulnerable like only secure types can be:

https://youtu.be/q2pRzyIPkfY?t=94s

#3. Secure is not (necessarily) confident

Let’s dispel this myth.

Since secure speaks his mind, is not afraid of commitment, and doesn’t play games people might think of them as some sort of very confident, super-human types.

But that’s not the case.
Secure types can also come be less confident, or be too vulnerable, and come across as less powerful.
Here’s an example:

That being said, since secure have less of a need to hide, they also tend to be more assertive, and that is a big plus when it comes to social skills and social effectiveness.

Why Secure is Better

There are plenty of advantages to being secure.

Take what psychologist and positive psychology founder Seligman (Seligman, 2002) says about the secure attachment style.
Sere people:

  • Remember their parents as warm, available, and affectionate
  • Have high self-esteem and few doubts
  • Regard others as trustworthy and reliable until proven otherwise (less likely to be bitter cynics, and are better placed at being enlightened-collaborator)
  • Strive and work on intimate relationships with those they love
  • Admit when they are in distress (can be vulnerable while still coming from a high-power frame)

And when it comes to relationships, research shows that the best predictor of happiness in a relationship is a secure attachment style.

And the great thing about secure partners is that they have the power to lift up in their relationship satisfaction levels both anxious and avoidant attachment styles.

Secure is a thing of beauty in relationships.

Secure Attachment and Power Dynamics

Secure people also tend to be better in all realms of socialization, and come across as more confident.

Julie de Azevedo Hanks for example explains that secure people are also more assertive (Hanks, 2016).

See here:

secure attachment style overviewBased on Hanks, 2016

So far, I haven’t seen a single resource clearly explaining how to become a secure, but I found that general self-help, helps.
There is some information though on how to remain a secure attachment type.

How to keep a secure attachment

Attachment styles don’t stay fixed for the whole life in every single case. A shift is possible and a secure attachment could become more anxious.

Secure indeed can exaggerate in feeling like their partner’s well-being is their responsibility, and they can be overly inclined to forgive.

One way that can happen is if the secure partner continually respond to their partner’s unacceptable behavior and keep tolerating it.
That’s more likely to happen in inexperienced secure attachment types, but make a mental note anyway: too much cr@p, and you cut the cr@p.

Signs to Watch Out For

Here is what to watch out for:

  1. If you start getting too jealous or worried (anxious)
  2. If you are less trusting, start playing games and find it difficult to talk (avoidant)

Then you’re in the wrong relationship.

Also read:

SUMMARY

Secure attachment types are comfortable with intimacy and they talk straight.
They have stronger, more stable relationships and are happier in them.

Secure is the way to be and to become, and you can work on that.
If you’re not yet sure where you stand, take the attachment quiz and check here how to spot your partner’s attachment style.

For those who are already secure, keep in mind that some very poor partner can make you regress to avoidant or anxious. If you feel you are losing your security, it’s best to end the relationship.

2 thoughts on “Secure Attachment Style: Overview & Examples”

  1. I found this article to be amazing. I was and a secure type. After being in a long term relationship with an anxious I gradually became an avoidant. To the point where, now I have fostered this (to my own doing too) to becoming an extreme avoidant. It makes me really sad knowing this.

    Meeting certain people (a very small number) make me feel like a secure again in their company – I cant explain why. Unfortunately, I’m not the person I was and the idea of rejection sits hard with me but also knowing that being with right person could offer so much more.

    Why does this happen?

    1. Often an anxious calms down with a secure, but that is not always the case and some are more difficult to “cure” and change.

      From secure to avoidant is something that I haven’t yet met in my life nor read anywhere about.

      It sounds possible in principle though that when the secure cannot positively influence the anxious the anxious would then negatively influence the secure. The secure would then adopt more avoidant-like behaviors to regain some space in an unconscious effort of self-protection.

      The way you write, I would speculate (underline “speculate”) that you have not really become an avoidant but simply “learned” through repeated conditioning to be avoidant (with certain personalities).
      That is why, with some people, you can still feel secure.

      I would personally also consider possible that you are now in an “overreaction” phase.
      To make a parallel with the animal kingdom, think of those dogs who were beaten by their former owners. They now need some time to get used again to people, even when said people are warm and lovely. But then little by little -and often actually quite quickly- they do get used and go back to being their lovely and confident selves.
      This might be the case for you as well.

      P.S.: Again, I am speculating here.

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