From our earliest attachments to our primary caregivers, we learn various messages about ourselves and the world around us. If we are loved and cared for by our closest caregivers, we develop a sense of security, providing us with a safe base from which to explore the world. Knowing this safe base will remain consistent, we can return to it for comfort, finding shelter in its dependable love. Moving into adulthood, this early attachment creates a secure attachment style that serves us well in our other relationships.
What is Secure Attachment in Adults?
Secure attachment in adults does not equal the absence of relationship problems but may result in having a greater capacity to deal directly with issues as they arise. Securely attached adults tend to be better grounded in who they are – they have a secure relationship with themselves first and foremost. When most folks think of attachment they think of it in the context of external relationships but healthy relationships are born out of having a healthy relationship with oneself.
A securely attached adult is often better able to regulate their own emotions, they tend to move slowly but intentionally into relationships in order to assess “fit” and are more willing to have difficult conversations in order to advocate for their wants and needs.
What does a secure attachment in adults look like? How do you know you have found a good candidate for your next intimate relationship?
Here are 10 signs of secure attachment:
For someone with a secure attachment, healthy boundaries with solid, yet flexible, lines establish a sense of self and the security of safety. They know where they stand and appreciate your space, giving you both a grounded presence. Ultimately, a secure partner respects your own boundaries and knows when to say “yes” and is not afraid to say “no.” A secure partner is not often clingy, preferring instead to encourage you to pursue your unique interests and activities. (Check out “How to Set Healthy Boundaries” by Positive Psychology.)
Solid Social Network
Do you still want a girls’ or guys’ night out? A secure partner actively encourages establishing close friendships with others and developing connections outside of the intimate relationship. Relationships need to extend beyond a romantic one, and knowing this, a secure partner also seeks out others to be a part of their own social network. Strong external support helps nourish each partner and benefits the overall health of the relationship. (Read these “Thoughts on How to Build Successful Friendships” by The Simple Dollar.)
And don’t worry, a secure attached partner typically isn’t jealous because they trust you will keep the commitment you have made. You can trust them to remain faithful to you, as they understand and respect the importance of unconditionally loving their partner and companion. A secure partner also has your back. You can rest assured they are in your court and will be there to support you in your activities and decisions.
Relationships often go south because we expect our intimate other to read our minds and anticipate our needs. A secure partner expresses their needs and desires, thus creating a space of open communication where you can also express yours. Understanding that communication is a two-way street, they do their part to keep the lines open, giving you both the opportunity to grow closer together. (Check out “How to Improve Your Relationships with Effective Communication Skills” by Very Well Mind.)
Constantly wanting to deepen the relationship, a secure partner will have a genuine interest in you and your dreams. Remaining curious, they will ask questions about you, your daily activities, and your life goals, reassuring you that they care about you and want to get to know you more. This curiosity and longing to truly know you strengthens the bond between you, and when reciprocated, deepens your level of intimacy.
Vulnerability takes courage. Because they can establish safe connections, a secure partner is comfortable opening up to you, transparently revealing their fears, insecurities, and deepest desires. Knowing the importance of self-disclosure, they don’t shy away from your questions or doubts.
You know you have found a secure partner when they affirm their love, voice their loyalty, and aren’t afraid to let their fears and insecurities show. Check out Brene Brown’s TEDTalk as she discusses this idea of vulnerability, as well as her book, Daring Greatly.
Many of us lug our baggage around with us, inviting the past into our current relationships in negative ways. Of course, issues from our past will inevitably leak into the present, but by checking their baggage at the door, a secure partner can discuss past relationships with a sense of resolution, and do not blame or shame you about yours.
Again knowing that self-disclosure is a key ingredient for intimacy, they will not leave you wondering about lurking secrets or skeletons in their closets. (Learn about “The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go,” a TEDxTalk by journalist and communications leader Jill Sherer Murray.)
How do you know your partner loves you? A secure partner expresses their love in active and concrete ways:
- Respect: By listening well and responding with attentiveness, a secure partner respects you and your decisions, further sealing the bond between you. (Read this article about “How to Show Respect for Others” by A Conscious Rethink.)
- Admiration: A secure partner’s love and affection are obvious and freely given.
- Gratitude: Saying “thanks” for the large and small things you do and say, a secure partner expresses their gratitude in big and little ways.
Because they learned from an early age that loved ones are safe and can be trusted, a securely attached adult and partner will have a strong sense of security in the relationship, and you can always rely on them. They won’t leave you wondering where they stand in the relationship, and you’ll know and feel their love and commitment.
Always working to strengthen the bond between you, a secure partner truly desires to grow with you, both individually and as a couple. They eagerly seize opportunities to proudly stand by your side through all of life’s ups and downs, creating a shared journey you can travel together.
Counseling Can Help Improve Secure Attachment in Adults & Relationships
Are these signs of secure attachment in adults missing from your relationship? I offer online therapy services to help you and your partner work through negative attachment styles, such as avoidant attachment style and anxious attachment style.
Contact me today to learn more about how therapy can help.