Know your Adult Attachment Style

When completing this questionnaire, please focus on one significant relationship – ideally a current or past partner as the focus here is on adult relationships. This does not necessarily need to be a romantic relationship but must be the individual with whom you feel the most connection. Who is your primary “go to” person if you’re sick, in trouble, want to celebrate, call with news, etc.

This questionnaire is designed to be an interactive learning tool. Please highlight, circle, or comment on any statements that are particularly relevant to you or that you’d like to revisit for exploration at a later time.

When responding, consider how strongly you identify with each statement – disagree, mostly agree, strongly agree. Using the scale below, respond in the space provided.

Answer the questions below
Rarely/NeverSometimesUsually/ Often
I find it easy to flow between being close and connected with my partner to being on my own.
My partner often comments or complains that I am controlling.
I have a hard time remembering and discussing the feelings related to my past attachment situations, when I try I disconnect, dissociate, or get confused.
My instinctive self-protective responses are often unavailable when possible danger is present – leaving me feeling immobilized, disconnected, or “gone”.
I insist on self-reliance; I do many of life’s tasks or my hobbies, alone and I have difficulty reaching out when I need help.
I tend to prefer relationships with things or animals instead of people.
I rarely feel satisfied with the relationships/ connection I have with partners.
I look at my partner with kindness and caring and look forward to our time together.
It is often difficult to receive love from my partner when they express it.
I have an exaggerated startle response when others approach me unexpectedly.
Protection often feels out of reach.
It is important for my partner to keep arrangements simple and clear because I am easily confused or disoriented, especially when stressed.
I feel that people are essentially good at heart.
It is difficult for me to be alone. If alone, I feel stressed, abandoned, hurt, and/or angry.
I feel like my partner is always there but I would often prefer to have my own space unless I invite the connection.
I often expect the worst to happen in my relationship.
In an attempt to stabilize connection, sometimes, I over-function, over-adapt, over-accommodate, or over-apologize for things I didn’t do.
I want closeness but am also afraid of the one I desire to be close with. I get stuck in approach-avoidance patterns with my partner.
I want to be close with my partner but feel angry at my partner at the same time.
When I lose a relationship, at first I tend to experience separation elation and then become depressed
I am always yearning for something or someone that I feel I cannot have.
I sometimes feel superior in not needing others and I wish others were more self-sufficient.
After anxiously awaiting my partner's arrival, I end up picking fights.
Sometimes I prefer casual sex over a committed relationship.
I feel relaxed with my partner most of the time.
I can keep secrets, protect my partner’s privacy, and respect boundaries.
I tend to lose myself in relationships because I tend to over-focus on others.
When I give more than I get, I often become resentful and/ or harbor a grudge.
When I reach a certain level of intimacy with my partner, I sometimes experience inexplicable fear.
I find myself minimizing the importance of close relationships in my life.
Keeping agreements with my partner is a priority.
At the same time as I feel a deep wish to be close with my partner, I also have a paralyzing fear of losing the relationship.
I often find eye contact uncomfortable and/ or particularly difficult to maintain.
If my partner and I hit a glitch, it’s relatively easy for me to apologize, brainstorm a win-win solution, and/or repair the misattunement or disharmony.
I feel comfortable expressing my own needs.
I often tend to “merge” or lose myself in my partner and feel what they feel, or want what they want.
I feel inexplicably stressed when my partner arrives home or approaches me – especially when he or she wants to connect.
When presented with problems, I often feel stumped and feel they are irresolvable.
I chronically second-guess myself and sometimes wish I had said something differently.
I attempt to discover and meet the needs of my partner whenever possible.
It is easier for me to think things through than to express myself emotionally.
I attempt to maintain safety in our relationship and actively protect my partner from others and from harm.
It is difficult for me to say NO or to set realistic boundaries.
I am comfortable being affectionate with my partner.
I struggle to feel safe with my partner.

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* Please make sure all questions have been answered in order to receive your result.

  • Secure
  • Avoidant/Dismissiv
  • Ambivalent/Anxious
  • Disorganized

About Attachment Styles

In the SATe (Adult Attachment Theory) training workshops we address four of the core Attachment Styles, their origin’s the way they reveal themselves in relationships, and methods for transforming attachment hurt into healing. I use the terms Secure, Avoidant, Ambivalent, and Disorganized Attachment. These are described below.

Secure

Secure attachment is the ideal attachment style needed to enjoy healthy boundaries, fluidity of intimacy and individuation, and social engagement. This is developed by the child having caregivers who are positively attuned to the child, provide a safe haven with consistency and “good enough” care, attention and affection. Children who experience this type of holding environment grow to feel safe to explore the world, interact with others with trust, and to have emotional resilience and regulation. As adults they will tend to have greater confidence, better balance and choices in relationships, and the ability to both give and receive love.

Avoidant

In the avoidant attachment style, caregivers’ emotionally unavailable, insensitive and even hostile responses to a child’s need for connection forms a coping strategy of disconnection in a child. Avoidantly attached people commonly find their greatest struggle to be a lack of emotion. Without intimate nurturance the limbic system is neurologically starved and does not receive the signals required for building social responses nor the frontal brain stimulation that develops bonding.

This disconnection extends first to the parents and then to all other relationships. Though some of our cultural models extol the virtues of this self-reliant lone-wolf behavior (think X man Wolverine, or the quintessential “Desperado” cowboy icon), actually living with such a lack of emotional attunement can be increasingly isolated. When working with Avoidant attachment, the intrepid task of the therapist is to nurture a transition to a fully embodied and participatory existence by creating a welcoming and contactful experience full of compassion “permission for existence.” DARe provide resources for ways Avoidants can cross the tenuous bridge to emotional connection.

Ambivalent

Ambivalently attached people have had caregivers who were on again off again, inconsistently tending and attuning to the child. Because of the lack of consistency the child doubts whether their needs will be met and is on the constant look out for cues and clues to how their behavior may or may not influence the parent’s responses. Over time they find themselves on an emotional see saw of needs being met and not being met. Their object relation is “I can want, but cannot have.”

You may observe that in ambivalent attachment styles there is a tendency to be chronically dissatisfied. First, there is a tendency to project their own familial history onto their relationship. Secondly if the other person becomes available, they become unavailable! Unaccustomed to receiving love, having it available doesn’t fit their profile of “still wanting”. Over time partners of Ambivalent people can be discouraged by their love being dismissed and the loss of the relationship can be the both the feared and created outcome.

Disorganized Attachment

A Disorganized Attachment style results when caregivers present double-binding messages to children. This is sometimes called “paradoxical injunction.” An example of this is a, “Come here, go away. Come here, go away.” message. Parents create situations for the child that are unsolvable and un-win-able. For example a parent may ask a child to do a task such as sweep the floor. When the child begins to do so the parent criticizes how it is being done, or even when it is being done. The child may attempt to do the task again taking the direction but is criticized again. The parent may then deride the child for not doing what the parent has asked them to do and punish them for not doing the job.

When exposed to these impossible-to-resolve situations over and over again the child develops a pattern of not solving problems. When parents set up these interactions that are frightening, disorienting, inherently disorganizing, and which sometimes involve violence, the parents become the source of fear. The disorganized pattern arises in the child when there is a desire to be close to the parent as an object of safety conflicting with a drive to detach from a dangerous and confusing caregiver. For the Adult this may mean being held emotionally hostage by the conflict of the desire for intimacy as well as the fear of it.