Partner attachment – what it is and why you want it

You’ve probably heard of attachment styles. It’s widely spoken about and commonly referenced on social media and anything related to dating or relationships. But did you know there was such a thing as a partner attachment?

Well let’s just quickly catch up on attachment styles before we plunge into your partner attachment. 

Attachment theory is a well researched psychological approach spearheaded by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Attachment styles refer to the ways we learn to connect and relate to others based on our early experiences with our own caregivers. These attachment styles typically fall into the categories: secure, anxious, avoidant and disorganised. They describe our level of comfort with intimacy and our ability to seek and provide support in relationships. Secure attachments provide a foundation for healthy relationships and emotional wellbeing. While insecure attachments – which refers to the other three attachment styles – lead to difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships. 

We won’t get caught up in which attachment style you or your partner may or may not have. But the message from attachment theory is helpful. You bring to your relationship your own attachment history and this affects how you will connect with your partner. 

Now let’s look at this less common concept of your partner attachment. This refers to the connection and bond you have with your partner. And, yes, it’s ideal if we have a secure partner attachment. Without a secure attachment with your partner, you will feel insecure, lacking trust and commitment, with an overfocus on yourself or your partner. You may feel constrained by your relationship or preoccupied with it.

But what does a secure partner attachment look like? 

A secure partner attachment refers to a healthy and stable emotional bond between you and your partner. Both of you feel comfortable and safe expressing your needs, emotions, and vulnerabilities to each other. You trust your partner to be responsive, supportive, and available during times of both joy and distress. You have the freedom to explore and play – both together and on your own – without feeling guilty or abandoned. 

Just as children use a secure attachment with their caregivers as a base from which to explore the world, adults in relationships rely on their partner as a secure base to navigate life’s challenges and explore personal growth. This partner attachment serves as a source of comfort, support, and safety, allowing partners to venture out into the world with confidence, knowing they have a stable foundation to return to.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on your own partner attachment. To do so, try answering the following  4 questions:

  1. Do you feel supported by your partner most of the time?
  2. Do you feel free to express your own opinions without fear of judgment in your relationship?
  3. Is there trust and security in your relationship?
  4. Are you growing and evolving as an individual and also as a couple?

Having done this reflection, does your partner attachment sound like what I described earlier? 

If not, don’t despair!

The good news is, attachment styles can change over time. You can strengthen, or move to, a secure attachment style if you have a healthy stable relationship. Similarly, you can grow a secure partner attachment. It just takes work and the right tools. 

In our couples therapy system we refer to your partner attachment as your couples base camp. You can read all about the couples base camp in our upcoming book The 8 Love Links or get a sneak peak on the website Everything you learn in the My Love Your Love couples coaching app fosters and enhances a secure partner attachment. We will help you create a secure partner attachment so that you can get what you need in your relationship—security, safety, and freedom.

Until next time, 


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