Secure Attachment Style: Why It Matters & How to Nurture It

Secure Attachment StyleImagine a relationship where trust flows effortlessly, communication is a breeze, and both partners feel equally cherished, respected, and free.

Welcome to the world of the secure attachment style, the gold standard of relationship dynamics where emotional safety and mutual respect pave the way for lasting love and personal growth.

Attachment styles have a profound impact on the ways we navigate life. While we don’t get to choose our attachment style, we can learn ways to create more secure attachments in adulthood.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients build healthy, life-enriching relationships.

What Is a Secure Attachment Style?

When John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth were studying children’s patterns of attachment, they discovered secure and insecure attachment types, which they described in their attachment theory (Ainsworth et al., 1978).

A secure attachment style is characterized by having a healthy, balanced, and trusting way of relating to others (Hazan & Shaver, 1987).

Children and adults with secure attachment have a general sense of feeling safe, understood, and valued in relationships. A foundation of trust in others allows them to build strong, lasting relationships marked by mutual respect and understanding.

5 Signs & Examples of Secure Attachment

Signs of secure atachmentUnderstanding the hallmarks of a secure attachment style can provide valuable insights into how healthy relationships function.

In this section, we will explore five signs of secure attachment and illustrate each with real-life examples.

These indicators not only help in identifying secure attachment in oneself and others, but also offer a roadmap for cultivating stronger, more resilient relationships.

1. Comfort with intimacy and independence

Individuals with a secure attachment style feel comfortable with emotional closeness and are equally comfortable with independence (Hazan & Shaver, 1987).

They do not feel rejected when their partner needs space, nor are they fearful or preoccupied with their relationships. They can depend on others and allow others to depend on them.


Sarah, who is securely attached, trusts her partner, Carlos, enough to share her thoughts and feelings but also encourages and respects his need for personal space and time apart. They feel secure in their relationship and find a healthy balance between their competing needs.

2. Healthy boundaries and communication

Securely attached individuals are good at respecting and setting boundaries (Collins & Feeney, 2004). They communicate openly and effectively, addressing conflicts calmly and constructively.

When another person sets a boundary, they do not overreact, over-personalize, or withdraw from the relationship.


In a recent disagreement, Sarah expressed her concerns clearly and listened to Carlos’s perspective. When Sarah brought up a difficult issue in their relationship, Carlos did not shut down or withdraw. In general, Sarah knows she can ask for what she needs and trusts that Carlos will respect her requests. They work toward a solution that respects their needs.

3. Confidence and self-worth

Securely attached individuals generally have a positive view of themselves and others (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991).

They are confident in their abilities and worth, which fosters healthy relationships. Others are drawn to them because they emanate a sense of general positive regard.


Sarah and Carlos feel comfortable pursuing their goals and passions. They don’t feel threatened by each other’s success and instead offer support and celebrate one another’s achievements.

4. Emotional regulation

Those with a secure attachment style can manage their emotions effectively (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007).

They experience a wide range of emotions and can regulate them in a way that is balanced and appropriate to the situation. They have learned how to self-soothe when distressed and choose healthy ways of dealing with stress and intense emotions.


When Sarah experienced stress from work, she used healthy coping skills such as talking to a friend and exercising rather than resorting to destructive behaviors or shutting down. Likewise, Carlos can feel and express a wide range of emotions and chooses to handle life’s stressful moments in adaptive ways.

5. Reliability and trust

Securely attached individuals are reliable and trustworthy (Simpson & Rholes, 1994). They follow through on commitments and can be counted on in times of need. People can depend on them, which positively influences their relationships.


Sarah is a friend who shows up when she says she will. Her friends and family know they can count on her. Sarah is also honest about her limitations and boundaries. Her reliability fosters a deep sense of trust in her relationships.

Download 3 Free Positive Relationships Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients to build healthy, life-enriching relationships.

8 Benefits of Being Secure

A secure attachment style provides multiple benefits for people, leading to healthier and more fulfilling personal wellbeing.

1. Healthy relationships

Securely attached individuals tend to have stronger, more stable, and satisfying relationships (Hazan & Shaver, 1987).

They are good at both giving and receiving love and support. They communicate openly and effectively, handle conflicts constructively, and trust their partners. This leads to deeper, more meaningful, and resilient connections.

2. Emotional regulation & resilience

Securely attached individuals benefit from better emotional regulation and resilience to stress (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007).

People with secure attachment manage their emotions well. They can stay calm under stress, handle setbacks more effectively, and use healthy coping strategies. This emotional stability helps them navigate life’s challenges with greater ease.

3. Higher self-esteem

Securely attached individuals enjoy enhanced self-esteem and self-worth (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991).

They typically have a positive view of themselves and feel confident in their abilities. They believe in their worth and abilities, which allows them to pursue their goals and take risks without excessive fear of failure.

4. Positive mental health

Secure attachment is associated with better mental health and lower levels of anxiety and depression (Karreman & Vingerhoets, 2012).

The emotional support and stability from their trusting relationships provide a buffer against stress and contribute to overall greater psychological wellbeing.

5. Effective conflict resolution

Individuals with secure attachment styles have more constructive conflict-resolution skills (Gottman, 1999).

They can handle conflicts with a balanced approach, addressing issues directly while maintaining respect for others, leading to more effective resolutions.

6. Better social skills

Securely attached individuals show high levels of social competence and empathy (Sroufe, 2005). Their secure attachment enables them to understand and respond to others’ emotions, enhancing social interactions and relationships.

7. Workplace success

Individuals with a secure attachment style benefit from greater success in the workplace (Hazan & Shaver, 1990).

They are more likely to exhibit high job performance, effective teamwork, and job satisfaction due to their strong interpersonal skills and emotional regulation.

8. Parental effectiveness

Secure attachment is associated with positive parenting and healthier child development (Ainsworth et al., 1978).

Securely attached parents are more responsive and sensitive to their children’s needs, fostering secure attachment and positive development in their children.

These key benefits illustrate the profound impact that secure attachment can have on various aspects of an individual’s life, from personal relationships to professional success and overall mental health.

This video shares more of the many intrinsic benefits of a secure attachment style.

The power of (secure) love - Omri Gillath

Research Findings on Securely Attached Individuals

A wide range of studies have been conducted on attachment styles in children and adults. From parenting to work relationships, studies indicate that secure attachment gives individuals a notable boost.

Several meta-analyses indicate positive outcomes for securely attached children, including improved social competence (Groh et al., 2017), quality of peer relationships (Pallini et al., 2014), emotion understanding (Cooke et al., 2016), and language competence (Van Ijzendoorn et al., 1995).

Secure attachment in children is also linked to fewer internalizing (Groh et al., 2017) and externalizing behavioral issues (Fearon et al., 2010; Groh et al., 2017). The research overwhelmingly supports the importance of fostering healthy, secure attachments starting at a young age.

Secure attachment in childhood leads to positive adult attachment styles (Ainsworth et al., 1978). This, in turn, leads to several other positive benefits. One could say that secure attachment produces a positive feedback loop throughout one’s lifetime.

Adults with secure attachment are better able to recover from stress and use healthy coping mechanisms to maintain a balanced emotional state (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007).

They enjoy better wellbeing and tend to have a more positive outlook on life (Karreman & Vingerhoets, 2012). They exhibit higher levels of empathy and attunement to the needs of others (Sroufe, 2005), which strengthens their relationships and contributes to greater wellbeing.

Secure attachment also leads to positive romantic relationship outcomes, including higher relationship satisfaction and stability (Hazan & Shaver, 1987). Couples with a secure attachment style report greater satisfaction, trust, and intimacy, while also experiencing fewer conflicts and more effective conflict resolution (Feeney & Collins, 2001).

Secure attachment significantly influences various aspects of an individual’s work life. It has been linked to not only better job performance and lower burnout rates (Hazan & Shaver, 1990), but also healthier workplace relationships, higher job satisfaction, and greater overall satisfaction (Leiter & Maslach, 1999).

Studies also show that secure attachment promotes effective leadership and collaboration with others (Harms, 2011). Securely attached leaders foster better team dynamics due to their empathetic and supportive nature, enhancing team cohesion and performance (Harms, 2011).

These findings highlight the profound impact secure attachment can have on various aspects of an individual’s life, from emotional wellbeing to the quality of their relationships and work life.

6 Common Challenges to Secure Attachment

Childhood trauma in adultsExperiences in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood can affect attachment. Here are some common challenges to developing and maintaining a secure attachment style.

1. Unresolved childhood trauma

Childhood emotional neglect, abuse, or inconsistent caregiving can disrupt the development of a secure attachment style in children (Bowlby, 1969; Main & Solomon, 1990). Early trauma often leads to difficulties in trusting others and dysregulation of emotions. It makes it more challenging for these individuals to form secure, stable relationships later in life.

2. Negative relationship patterns

Similarly, adults who repeatedly experience patterns of manipulation, betrayal, or emotional unavailability in relationships can develop feelings of insecurity and mistrust, hindering the development of a secure attachment style (Collins & Feeney, 2000; Rholes et al., 2006).

Exposure to these unhealthy or toxic relationships tends to reinforce insecure attachment behaviors.

3. Fear of vulnerability

An individual’s fear of being open and vulnerable with others impedes secure attachment (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007; Collins & Read, 1990).

When adults act from a place of fear of being abandoned, hurt, or rejected, they may avoid intimacy or withdraw emotionally, preventing the formation of deep, trusting bonds necessary for secure attachment.

It becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of mistrust, which can be challenging to interrupt and reverse.

4. Lack of positive role models

An absence of role models demonstrating healthy relationships makes it difficult to learn secure attachment behaviors (Feeney & Collins, 2004; Waters et al., 2000). Without positive modeling, individuals don’t learn how to cultivate trust, open communication, and emotional regulation in their relationships.

5. Mental health issues

Individuals who struggle with conditions such as anxiety, depression, or personality disorders can experience greater difficulties in forming and maintaining secure attachments (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2009; Simpson et al., 1992).

Mental health conditions often affect self-esteem, emotional regulation, and relationship dynamics, which together can greatly hinder the ability to establish and maintain stable relationships.

6. High-stress environments

When individuals are constantly exposed to high levels of stress, such as financial instability or unsafe living conditions, this can undermine secure attachment (Uchino, 2009; Repetti et al., 2002).

Chronic stress taps the resilience of most people and can increase relational conflicts. The negativity of high-stress environments can strain relationships.

Addressing these challenges often requires intentional effort, self-awareness, and sometimes professional support to work through past traumas, develop healthier relationship patterns, and improve emotional regulation.

Next, we’ll dive into some effective approaches that can support secure attachment.

Prefer Uninterrupted Reading? Go Ad-free.

Get a premium reading experience on our blog and support our mission for $1.99 per month.

✓ Pure, Quality Content

✓ No Ads from Third Parties

✓ Support Our Mission

How to Develop a Secure Attachment Style: 6 Strategies

Developing a secure attachment style involves creating a foundation of trust, emotional safety, and effective communication. Here are six science-backed strategies to consider.

1. Therapy, counseling, and coaching

Therapy is an effective way to help individuals understand and address past traumas, recognize unhealthy patterns, and develop healthier ways of relating to others.

Research supports the effectiveness of therapy, particularly attachment-based or cognitive behavioral therapy, in improving attachment security by promoting self-awareness and emotional regulation (Johnson, 2002; Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007).

Relationship coaching is an easily accessible way for couples or individuals to work on interpersonal skills.

2. Mindfulness and self-compassion

Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness and self-compassion can reduce anxiety and increase feelings of security in relationships (Kabat-Zinn, 2003; Neff, 2011).

Mindfulness helps individuals become more aware of their thoughts and emotions without judgment, which can improve emotional regulation (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).

Self-compassion fosters a kind and understanding attitude toward oneself, which is crucial for building self-esteem and a secure attachment (Neff, 2011).

3. Healthy communication skills

Another effective strategy is to practice and develop effective communication skills. Open and honest communication is key to building trust and intimacy, and fortunately, these are skills that can be learned.

Techniques such as active listening, assertiveness, and nonviolent communication can enhance relationship satisfaction and attachment security. Research indicates that couples who communicate effectively are more likely to have secure attachments (Gottman, 1999).

For more insights on the ways partners can communicate with one another with a secure attachment style in mind, enjoy this video.

Put on your attachment hat & change your romantic attachment style

4. Building trust gradually

Individuals hoping to develop a more secure attachment style can practice taking gradual steps to build trust in relationships (Feeney & Collins, 2004).

Start with small acts of trust and gradually increase them as the relationship strengthens. Trust-building exercises have been shown to enhance feelings of security and attachment in relationships (Feeney & Collins, 2004).

5. Emotionally supportive relationships

Surrounding yourself with emotionally supportive and reliable people may sometimes be easier said than done. However, research strongly shows that positive social support networks can buffer against stress and contribute to a sense of security (Uchino, 2009).

Engaging with friends and family who offer emotional support can reinforce secure attachment patterns. The research underscores the importance of supportive relationships in fostering secure attachment and overall wellbeing (Uchino, 2009).

6. Self-reflection and journaling

While journaling is a solo activity, regularly reflecting on your emotions and relationship experiences can be a helpful exercise as you build toward a more secure attachment style.

Self-reflection helps identify patterns and triggers that influence attachment behaviors (Pennebaker, 1997). Journaling can promote insight and self-awareness, aiding in the development of more secure attachment strategies. Reflective practices like journaling can improve emotional regulation and relationship quality (Pennebaker, 1997).

By incorporating these strategies, individuals can work toward developing a more secure attachment style, leading to healthier and more fulfilling relationships.

17 Exercises for Positive, Fulfilling Relationships

Empower others with the skills to cultivate fulfilling, rewarding relationships and enhance their social wellbeing with these 17 Positive Relationships Exercises [PDF].

Created by experts. 100% Science-based.

Resources From

The following resources are available on and will help you gain a better understanding of how to support the development of secure attachment, whether for yourself, your child, or your clients.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others build healthy relationships, check out this collection of 17 validated positive relationships tools for practitioners. Use them to help others form healthier, more nurturing, and life-enriching relationships.

A Take-Home Message

Embracing a secure attachment style can transform your relationships and overall wellbeing. By fostering trust, open communication, and emotional regulation, you create a foundation for deep, lasting connections.

Whether you’re nurturing a romantic relationship, strengthening friendships, or building family bonds, the principles of secure attachment offer a pathway to more fulfilling interactions.

Remember, it’s never too late to cultivate these skills and reshape your attachment style. Start today by being mindful, setting your intention, seeking support, and practicing self-compassion.

The journey toward secure attachment is an investment in a happier, healthier future for yourself and those you care about. And it can begin with the smallest step of faith.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Traits of a secure attachment style include comfort with intimacy and independence, effective communication, confidence and self-worth, emotional regulation, and reliability. These traits help individuals build and maintain healthy, balanced relationships characterized by trust and mutual respect.

A securely attached person is comfortable with both closeness and independence in relationships. They communicate openly, respect others’ boundaries, manage emotions well, and are reliable and trustworthy. This balance enables them to build strong, supportive relationships while maintaining their own sense of self.

The strongest indicator of secure attachment is the ability to balance intimacy and independence in a way that sustains relationships over time. Securely attached individuals can comfortably depend on others and allow others to depend on them, fostering relationships marked by mutual trust and respect.

Yes, it is possible to develop a secure attachment style. Strategies include psychotherapy, practicing mindfulness, improving communication skills, gradually building trust with people, engaging with supportive relationships, and practicing self-reflection and journaling. These approaches help individuals create a foundation of emotional safety and effective relationship dynamics

  • Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the Strange Situation. Erlbaum.
  • Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.
  • Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: attachment (vol. 1). Basic Books.
  • Collins, N. L., & Feeney, B. C. (2000). A safe haven: An attachment theory perspective on support seeking and caregiving in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(6), 1053–1073.
  • Collins, N. L., & Feeney, B. C. (2004). Working models of attachment shape perceptions of social support: Evidence from experimental and observational studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(3), 363–383.
  • Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(4), 644–663.
  • Cooke, J. E., Stuart-Parrigon, K. L., Movahed-Abtahi, M., Koehn, A. J., & Kerns, K. A. (2016). Children’s emotion understanding and mother–child attachment: A meta-analysis. Emotion, 16(8), 1102–1106.
  • Fearon, R. P., Bakermans‐Kranenburg, M. J., Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., Lapsley, A. M., & Roisman, G. I. (2010). The significance of insecure attachment and disorganization in the development of children’s externalizing behavior: A meta‐analytic study. Child Development, 81(2), 435–456.
  • Feeney, B. C., & Collins, N. L. (2001). Predictors of caregiving in adult intimate relationships: An attachment theoretical perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(6), 972–994.
  • Feeney, B. C., & Collins, N. L. (2004). Interpersonal safe haven and secure base support in adult intimate relationships. In N. Reis & J. Rusbult (Eds.), Close relationships: Key readings (pp. 37–69). Psychology Press.
  • Gottman, J. M. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. Harmony.
  • Groh, A. M., Fearon, R. P., Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & Roisman, G. I. (2017). Attachment in the early life course: Meta-analytic evidence for its role in socioemotional development. Child Development Perspectives, 11, 70–76.
  • Harms, P. D. (2011). Adult attachment styles in the workplace. Human Resource Management Review, 21(4), 285–296.
  • Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(3), 511–524.
  • Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1990). Love and work: An attachment-theoretical perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59(2), 270–280.
  • Johnson, S. M. (2002). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy: Creating connection. Brunner-Routledge.
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144–156.
  • Karreman, A., & Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2012). Attachment and well-being: The mediating role of emotion regulation and resilience. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(7), 821–826.
  • Leiter, M. P., & Maslach, C. (1999). Six areas of worklife: A model of the organizational context of burnout. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, 21(4), 472–489.
  • Main, M., & Solomon, J. (1990). Procedures for identifying infants as disorganized/disoriented during the Ainsworth Strange Situation. In M. T. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, & E. M. Cummings (Eds.), Attachment in the preschool years: Theory, research, and intervention (pp. 121–160). University Of Chicago Press.
  • Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2007). Attachment in adulthood: Structure, dynamics, and change. Guilford Press.
  • Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2009). Attachment theory and affect regulation: The dynamics, development, and cognitive consequences of attachment-related strategies. Motivation and Emotion, 33(2), 77–87.
  • Neff, K. D. (2011). Self-compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself. William Morrow.
  • Pallini, S., Baiocco, R., Schneider, B. H., Madigan, S., & Atkinson, L. (2014). Early child–parent attachment and peer relations: A meta-analysis of recent research. Journal of Family Psychology, 28(1), 118–123.
  • Pennebaker, J. W. (1997). Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process. American Psychological Association.
  • Repetti, R. L., Taylor, S. E., & Seeman, T. E. (2002). Risky families: Family social environments and the mental and physical health of offspring. Psychological Bulletin, 128(2), 330–366.
  • Rholes, W. S., Simpson, J. A., & Friedman, M. (2006). Avoidant attachment and the experience of parenting. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(3), 275–285.
  • Simpson, J. A., & Rholes, W. S. (1994). Stress and secure base relationships in adulthood. Advances in Personal Relationships, 5, 181–204.
  • Simpson, J. A., Rholes, W. S., & Nelligan, J. S. (1992). Support seeking and support giving within couples in an anxiety-provoking situation: The role of attachment styles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62(3), 434–446.
  • Sroufe, L. A. (2005). Attachment and development: A prospective, longitudinal study from birth to adulthood. Attachment & Human Development, 7(4), 349–367.
  • Uchino, B. N. (2009). Understanding the links between social support and physical health: A life-span perspective with emphasis on the separability of perceived and received support. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(3), 236–255.
  • Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., Dijkstra, J. & Bus, A.G. (1995). Attachment, intelligence, and language: A Meta-analysis. Social Development, 4(2), 115–128.
  • Waters, E., Merrick, S., Treboux, D., Crowell, J., & Albersheim, L. (2000). Attachment security in infancy and early adulthood: A twenty‐year longitudinal study. Child Development, 71(3), 684–689.

Let us know your thoughts

Your email address will not be published.


Read other articles by their category

3 Positive Relationships Exercises Pack