Written by Marina Andreoli-Laubscher

Expat dating can be tricky. When people don’t know how long they’ll be here, situationships just kind of happen, until the next call for boarding. Are you hoping to build healthy foundations? Then you’ll want to learn about attachment styles- which one you have, and what to look out for in others.

What Are Attachment Styles

These are default settings for the way you think, feel, and act in close relationships. They’re formed early on with your caregivers and develop in line with your primary relationships as you grow- eventually affecting your adult relationships. Does one of these profiles feel a lot like you?

The 4 Styles

1. Securely Attached

Individuals with this style have a deeply-formed ability to have confidence in a partner, enjoying genuine connections with them. They value their independence and that of their partners- letting the other person do their thing while openly expressing their affection for them. They can ask for support, and readily reciprocate when their partner needs it. 

Secure attachments form when a child sees their caregiver as a secure base. A base camp to set out from and return to, in between exploring the world on their own. This style is cultivated by securely attached parents, who strike a balance between providing warm and firm involvement and allowing independence.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
2. Dismissive-Avoidant

Those with the dismissive-avoidant attachment style tend to be excessively emotionally independent. Getting emotionally intimate with others is uncomfortable, and trusting others? Nope. They often advertise the fact that they don’t need closeness. Rejection or hurt leads to withdrawal.

This style arises from childhoods characterized by rejection, with negligent, preoccupied, or absent parents. This coping mechanism is not irreversible- studies have shown that highly dismissive adults feel better about themselves and are happier when they feel accepted by others.

3. Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment

These folk fall fast and somewhat indiscriminately. They always seem to be preoccupied with a need for relationships- seeking out emotional intimacy and anticipating deep connections even when their actual relationship has barely left the starting line. Cravings for approval, responsiveness, and fishing for reassurance are common in their interactions and if the partner doesn’t provide this, they become anxious. This drives others away and leads to persisting insecurity.

Unfortunately, this has its roots in a lack of self-worth and is a different reaction to a similar childhood dynamic detailed in style 2.

4. Disorganized (Fearful-Avoidant) Attachment

This style displays a mix of anxious and dismissive behaviors—wanting emotional intimacy but actively pushing it away out of fear of trusting others. These people deny their feelings and rarely let on how much they crave approval. This suppression leads to a tendency towards jealousy.
Home environments where security and care aren’t guaranteed provide mixed signals, leading to a fearful-avoidant attachment style. In some cases trauma may be inflicted on children by caregivers – the people most associated with safety. This dynamic teaches the child to pull away when their innate desire is to reach out for support.

It’s important to note that these styles are not unchangeable labels. Rather, they detail patterns of behavior arising from unmet attachment needs- with conscious effort and healthy choice of partner, secure attachment is very much achievable. Understanding where you, or your partner, are now will help you mindfully approach present and future connections.