Love

Can Your Attachment Style Change Later In Life?

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You may have Googled “What is my attachment style?” and found out that there are 4 basic attachment styles; secure, insecure avoidant, insecure anxious, and disorganized.

After learning and exploring the meaning of each of the attachment styles and diagnosing yourself as one of the four, you may naturally wonder, “Can attachment styles change?”

The answer is a resounding yes. Attachment styles can change, but you need to understand why and how they can change. 

RELATED: How The 4 Attachment Styles Affect Relationships + How To Know Which Is Yours

7 Reasons Attachment Styles Can Change

1. Security.

New relationship research has found that your attachment style can change if you're in a committed and secure relationship

If you are less secure, but your partner is securely attached, you'll move more toward secure attachment. This is exciting news because a new relationship is an opportunity to move to secure functioning.

If you're in a relationship and you're securely attached, you can learn how to behave in ways that are more secure. You can read, watch videos, or contact an attachment therapist who can teach you how you can change your attachment style.

2. Getting older. 

Aging seems to play a role in becoming more securely attached. It is suggested that you may not have time for relationships that are unhealthy for you; therefore, you pick more secure and stable ones which leads you to become more stable.

3. Susceptibility.

In addition, research has discovered that people who are more susceptible to change due to a poorly defined model of relationships will change more.

For example, if you found relationships to be sometimes secure and sometimes less secure, then you're more likely to change your attachment style.

Being more susceptible to change can be good or bad news depending on whether or not you're securely or insecurely attached.

If you find yourself changing too much or moving in a direction that seems more insecure, then try to get to the bottom of it or reach out to an attachment-based therapist for guidance. 

4. Serious event. 

A serious event that creates intense emotions can alter one's attachment style. For example, the loss of a loved one suddenly can impact one's attachment style, possibly creating a sense of insecurity and fear.

RELATED: How Can You Tell If Your Attachment Style Is Compatible With Your Partner's?

We can't control whether or not a tragedy or other impactful happenstance will occur in our lives, but how we respond and react to it will be key to our emotional stability and well-being. 

5. Trauma.

If you're in a relationship that's abusive, this can impact your attachment style. An abusive relationship usually creates an anxious or avoidant attachment style.

You may find that you're experiencing insecure anxious attachment because you're anxious, nervous, and fearful about the next time you may be abused.

However, some partners will find that they are experience insecure avoidant behaviors because they have a desire and want to avoid another conflict.

However, if you leave this relationship, heal from the trauma (which will take some time), and develop healthy relationship bonds, you can become more securely attached. 

6. Emotional well-being.

If you want to be more securely attached, you can become securely attached. It takes time and effort, along with dedication to changing patterns and behaviors that may have started in your childhood.

Be patient with yourself and you may want to seek a counselor to help you on this journey. 

7. Emotional and physical exercises.

A study found that couples that performed specific exercises and activities created a more secure attachment.

You may wonder what they were doing that helped their relationship become secure. The study asked the couples to ask each other questions, focus on the positive, and perform partner yoga.

It didn't take a lot of time, but when a couple creates closeness by being vulnerable and open this helps them develop a more secure functioning relationship. 

Keep or change your attachment style. 

When you identify your attachment style you can decide whether or not you want to remain in that specific style. Answering the question, “Can attachment styles change?” will be a decision you can make at any time. Use the seven reasons above to guide you in developing a secure functioning relationship.

RELATED: How To Tell If You Have A Secure Or Insecure Attachment Style (And How It Affects Your Relationships)

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC, is a licensed counselor in the states of Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Virginia, and Vermont. She is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist and PACT Level 3 who's an expert in attachment styles and countless other components of successful relationships. 

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