Portland Therapy Blog

Portland Therapy Blog

Local experts share the latest information and resources on all things mental health.

What is Your Romantic Attachment Style?

Posted: June 23, 2014 by Jeff Guenther

Video Transcription

Hello my name is Jeff, I am a licensed professional counselor and today on Mental Help desk I am going to be talking about adult romantic attachment styles. In this video I will help you determine what attachment style you have and give you tips on how to be in a healthy relationship if one of you is anxious and the other is avoidant.

There are three different attachment styles. Anxious, avoidant and secure. Personally, I think we are all on a spectrum and sometimes we're feeling more anxious, secure or avoidant based on variables in our life and who we are dating but we generally fall into one camp and for the sake of this video I am going to be pretty simplistic about it all.

You have an anxious attachment style if you tend to need more reassurance and crave more time together. You are probably able to express and receive love freely. Sometimes you might come off as smothering or needy but you can also be quite attentive and caring. Anxious folks are able to read people pretty well, or at least think they can. And a lot of times you’ll want more sex in the relationship because you can feel really connected when you're intimate with someone. An extreme version of this attachment style might be called codependent. Some examples are Rachel from Glee, Woody from Toy Story, Bella from twilight.

You have an avoidant attachment style if you tend to want more space in a relationship. You probably want to be in a relationship as much as anyone else but you’ll need more room to stretch out and take things slow so that you don’t get too overwhelmed and feel cramped. It’s probably harder for you to talk about emotions and you may not have the best vocabulary for it or be very in touch with how you’re feeling. An avoidant will enjoy sex but they don’t need it as much as an anxious person might. And after a full day together with a partner often times you’ll need your alone time the next day. Some examples are Summer from 500 days of Summer, Samantha from Sex in the City, Don Draper from Mad Men and even Batman.

Securely attached people are who we wish we were but probably aren’t. There’s more anxious and avoidant folks out there. The secure tend to easily come across relationships with more grace and tend to have longer lasting, less problematic relationships. I’m generalizing here but it’s pretty true. They have realistic expectations, don’t feel too nervous in a relationship and don’t push their partners away or perform any sneaky tests. They are trusting and move at a measured pace in a relationship, have realistic expectations, and express their feelings when they need to. There are not many examples of secure relationships in TV and Film because they are pretty boring to watch and don’t have much conflict. However, Eric and Tammy Taylor from Friday night lights have a good relationship and both of them are secure.

Many times anxious and avoidant people gravitate towards each other. The reason is because it lets them keep their core beliefs about themselves and relationships. And because these are the guys that are mostly single. But when they pair up, an anxious is going to feel like they are never getting enough from an avoidant, and an avoidant is going to keep feeling like their partner is always asking for too much. So they can just go ahead and keep complaining about the same thing over and over again.

What can you do if you're in an anxious/avoidant relationship?

If you’re anxious:

  • First, don’t freak out! If your partner doesn’t understand feeling words and can’t say I love you out loud it doesn’t mean they aren’t totally into you. Just be on the lookout for how they are most comfortable showing their love. It could be subtle or it could only be in private. Take what you can get.
  • Second, don’t hold things in! If you want more attention or reassurance then go ahead and ask for it. Find a way to be direct but without being dramatic.
  • Third, be patient. It’s sorta your job to train your avoidant to open up a bit more than they’d like. This is a really hard thing for them to do. Try hard to be compassionate with their process. As long as you’re seeing movement in the right direction that’s all that really matters here.

If you’re the avoidant:

  • First you’ll want to first try to speak up! Try asking yourself a bunch of times a day how you are feeling and then tell your partner what’s going on. If you feel love towards your partner tell them! This’ll go a long way! Trust me. If you feel like you need a little alone time then don’t be scared to ask for it.
  • Second, remind yourself that you actually want to be in a relationship. This feeling of wanting to push away and give up sometimes is going to come up every now and then. It’s totally normal for you to feel this way. It’s not so much about your partner, it’s more about you. Remember when you were single and you wanted to be dating someone? That was a real feeling and it will come right back if this relationship you’re in ends.
  • And third, be patient too. Your anxious partner is freaking out because they love you so much. That’s not such a bad thing to be loved like that. They’ll start to level out a bit more as the relationship continues and they can see and feel that this one is going to be a long and secure one. They may be dramatic and attached at the hip but face it, who else would you want to be attached to you? It’s endearing, right?

If you need help managing a relationship like this feel free to check out all the couples counselors in Portland that are willing to help. Thanks for watching today, I’ll see you next time.

Tags: relationship and family, mental help desk

Jeff Guenther (he/him)

Licensed Professional Counselor


I help people who feel anxious in relationships stop feeling anxious in relationships.

See Profile
Client Status
not accepting clients
Anxiety, Codependency, Adjustment Disorder, Relationship / Marriage Issues, Self-Esteem