How To Overcome Insecure Attachment

Updated May 6, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Having an insecure attachment as an adult can cause serious problems in your closest relationships. You may find yourself worrying excessively, needing constant reassurance, trying to control the other person, or driving them away while you try to hold onto them. Yet, you can overcome an insecure attachment if you're dedicated to making positive changes and willing to get the right help. Let’s get to know how to cope with attachment issues.

Overcoming insecure attachment is hard

What is attachment in psychology?

Attachment is a word that psychologists use to describe a deep emotional bond formed from one person to another. An attachment carries across time and space so that no matter where you are, and despite the passage of time, you feel a connection to that person.

If you have an attachment for someone else, they might or might not feel a connection with you. Even if the attachment is reciprocal, it probably will be different in quality and intensity for each of you. When psychologists talk about attachment and attachment theory, they're talking about the one-way bond from one person to another.

 What is an insecure attachment?

So, what is an insecure attachment, and why does it matter? If you have an insecure attachment, it can have a profound effect, not only on your relationship but on many other aspects of your life.

They show minor discomfort when their caregiver leaves, but they reconnect easily when their caregiver returns.

 Insecure attachment definition

Rather than displaying confidence in their caregiver's response, the infant tends to be anxious or defiant. They show extreme distress when their caregiver leaves and have trouble reconnecting with them when they return.

An insecure infant attachment, on the other hand, may show up as clinginess, defiance, confusion, or disconnection from the caregiver.


 Does your attachment style ever change?

 Psychologists who have studied attachment have mostly chosen infants as their subjects. Your attachment style as an infant typically has some bearing on your adult attachment style, but your attachment style may change as you get older.

 Insecure attachment in adults

Attachment issues in an adult are often manifestations of poor background attachment. An insecure attachment in adults looks slightly different from an insecure infant attachment, but the basic emotions that accompany it are very similar. You feel that others are most sensitive and accept you well.

However, if you have an insecure attachment, you may not believe you deserve to be loved. When you have an insecure attachment style, others seem mostly insensitive, uncaring, or even frightening to you. So, how can you recognize if you have an insecure attachment? You might notice the following:

  • You find it hard to handle conflict with others

  • You don't take responsibility for your actions that cause negative consequences

  • You manipulate others or try to control them

  • You can't genuinely love or show affection to others

  • You aren't good at showing empathy, trust, or remorse

  • You act out negatively

  • You're destructive, cruel, or argumentative

  • You're too impulsive

  • When you're sad or fearful, it shows up as anger

  • You feel isolated, depressed, frustrated, or stressed

  • You're prone to addictions

  • You may feel confused often

  • You may blame others and feel others are blaming you

  • You feel helpless and angry

  • You feel suspicious of others and doubt their affection for you

Recognizing your own insecure attachment style

Some psychologists refer to three types of insecure attachments in adults. These are dismissive attachment, fearful attachment, and preoccupied attachment. These concepts relate to the internal feelings you have towards yourself and others.

Regarding behavior, most psychologists use different words to categorize types of insecure attachment: insecure-avoidant attachment, insecure disorganized attachment, and insecure ambivalent/resistant attachment. Each type of insecure adult attachment is displayed in different ways. How you feel about the other person also varies with your attachment style.

 Insecure resistant attachment

When Mary Ainsworth, the psychologist remembered for her development of attachment theory, studied infant attachment, she discovered that some of those infants were anxious when their mother was with them, distressed when their mother was away briefly, and angry when their mother returned. This behavior signaled that the infant had an insecure resistant attachment.

What does anxious attachment mean? An adult with an insecure resistant attachment (also known as anxious attachment) shows a similar array of emotions with anxiety, distress, and anger. This attachment style is also called an insecure ambivalent attachment or an ambivalent anxious attachment.

When you have an insecure resistant attachment as an adult, you tend to be clingy and push too hard for togetherness. You may miss your partner terribly while they're gone. You want your partner's love and attention, and you become distressed when it's withdrawn. When they return, what you feel is mostly anger.

The anger can be intense and may show up as physical or emotional cruelty towards your partner. Or, you may feel anxious that they'll leave you and beg for their attention and support.


If you have an insecure avoidant attachment as an adult, you don't want others to depend on you, and you don't depend on anyone else. The connection you feel with the other person is very tentative and fragile. You don't want to rely on them, so you might hide your true feelings or even behaviors that they may find out about.

Getty/Luis Alvarez
Overcoming insecure attachment is hard

With an insecure avoidant attachment, you avoid intimacy with your partner. You want to be independent, but you don't give yourself a safe base to work from as you explore your world. 

 Insecure disorganized attachment

 When you have an insecure disorganized attachment, your style is less easily defined than other attachment styles. Disorganized attachment is a combination of a style that is so difficult to pin down that you have trouble predicting how you will react because your reactions are typically contradictory.

With a disorganized style, you may experience a disconnect from your relationship partner. You may not be aware that you have any feelings for them at all. You may feel emotionless, alone, hopeless, or despairing. You may avoid developing any relationships because you don't want to be rejected. In fact, you fear all attachments. 

 How to overcome insecure attachment

You can overcome an unhealthy attachment style and develop secure attachment with others, but it might not be easy. You'll need to get help. You'll also need to learn about your insecure attachment. To develop healthy attachments, you'll probably need to improve your self-concept and change the way you think about others. Here are some steps to make that happen.

 Make sense of your story

Throughout the process of overcoming an insecure attachment, you can benefit from making sense of past and current attachments. What have they meant to you, and what did you learn from them? As you experience personal growth, your story may change. That's great! It means you're learning a new way of seeing the past.

 Accept your part in the attachment style

 As an adult, the time for blaming others is over. Others may impact what attachment style you develop, but your emotions and behaviors are part of the attachment equation that you can control. If you want a healthier attachment style, you need to be willing to make the changes necessary for that to happen.

Pay attention to your own attachment behaviors

You'll need to be a keen observer of your own behavior. Once you learn what attachment behaviors to expect, you can watch for those behaviors. This information will be invaluable when you talk to a counselor.

 Talk to a Counselor

Talking to a counselor allows you to learn more about attachment styles in general, and more specifically, your attachments to the people in your life. You can learn techniques for identifying insecure attachment behaviors. You can work on your self-concept so that you can feel more positive about yourself. Additionall,y you can learn how to build a more secure attachment style. However, not everyone has the time to sit in traffic and drive to an appointment, and not everyone feels comfortable in a waiting room with other people. This is where online counseling services like Regainoffer solutions. Below are some reviews of Regain counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

 Counselor reviews

 "It was a pleasure working with Bradley. He is positive and encouraging. He helped us to realize key differences between me and my partner and to under each other's behavior and attachment styles. Also, my confusion has been mostly cleared by his insights. I would recommend him to others. It takes time to fully resolve your issues be patient."

"Denae has a strong background in child psychology. We came to her because we're figuring out how to navigate our first year with a newborn together. I Highly recommend this counselor."


A licensed counselor can help you overcome insecure attachments. Whether you're having attachment problems or other mental health issues, you can learn to deal with them successfully for a more satisfying and happier life. Take the first step.

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