Building trust: A guide to overcoming insecure attachment

Discover proven strategies for couples to conquer insecure attachment and build stronger, more trusting relationships together.

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Do you struggle to trust your partner or get jealous of their relationships with others? Do you find yourself constantly seeking reassurance from them? If any of these sound familiar, you likely have an insecure attachment.

You’re not alone. In fact, insecure attachment is one of the most common issues couples face. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, insecurity, and mistrust in your relationship. 1

But don’t worry — insecure attachment can be overcome with hard work and dedication. In this article, we’ll discuss why understanding attachment is so important for couples and provide tips on how to break free from an insecure attachment.

Looking for more fulfilling relationships in your life? Discover how communication and attachment styles shape relationship dynamics, and how to use them to your advantage.

Understanding attachment styles in relationships

Understanding attachment styles in relationships

Every relationship involves attachment — whether it’s a romantic one or friendship. Attachment is the bond between two people and how their feelings towards one another are expressed.

In the 1950s, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby first articulated the concept of attachment theory. He described it as an emotional bond between a caregiver and child and that this attachment will shape a child’s future relationships. 2 3

Bowlby also identified three specific attachment styles — secure, anxious, and avoidant. A fourth type of attachment — disorganized — was later identified by Main and Solomon. Here’s how they’re defined: 4

Why addressing insecure attachment is crucial

Understanding attachment styles is crucial because it helps couples identify potential areas of conflict and work to resolve them. This is especially true for couples with insecure attachment, who often struggle to form healthy relationships.

Insecure attachment styles are the other three—anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. This style is typically associated with depressive and anxiety symptoms and makes it difficult for couples to communicate openly or develop trust in each other. 5 6

People with an insecure attachment style often have difficulty trusting their partner or forming a deep emotional connection. This can lead to misunderstandings and resentment in the relationship, creating a vicious cycle of insecurity.

Without addressing these issues, they can become increasingly worse over time, leading to relationship breakdowns. That’s why couples with insecure attachment styles must understand the underlying issues and actively work on them together.

9 strategies for overcoming insecure attachment

9 strategies for overcoming insecure attachment

The good news is that insecure attachment styles can be changed with dedication and hard work. Here are some tips for couples looking to overcome an insecure attachment in their relationship:

1. Recognize and understand your attachment style

The first step to overcoming insecure attachment is recognizing and understanding your attachment styles. Take the time to identify your attachment type and how it manifests in your relationship.

Do you find it difficult to trust your partner or become jealous easily? These could be signs of an anxious attachment style. Or do you struggle to form emotional connections or feel disconnected from the relationship? This might indicate an avoidant attachment style.

2. Open communication and vulnerability

Open communication is a vital part of any relationship, but it’s especially important for those with insecure attachment styles. Take the time to talk openly and honestly about your feelings and how they relate to your attachment style. 7

Being open and vulnerable with each other can help reduce feelings of insecurity and mistrust. It will also create a safe space for both of you to express your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or criticism.

Open communication is the key to unlocking deeper connection in relationships. Learn how different communication styles impact intimacy.

3. Cultivate secure patterns of interaction

Cultivating secure patterns of interaction in your relationship is essential for overcoming an insecure attachment style. This could mean planning weekly date nights or taking the time to do things together every day. 8

It’s also important to remember that these patterns should be consistent and predictable. For example, if you promise to call each other every day at a certain time, make sure that you follow through.

This will help create a sense of security in your relationship and reduce feelings of anxiety and mistrust. Make sure to also be honest and open with each other if you have any doubts or reservations.

4. Practice mindfulness and self-care

Being mindful of your thoughts and feelings can help you become more aware of your attachment style. Take the time to meditate, practice yoga, or journal — this will help you connect with your innermost thoughts and feelings. 9

Additionally, make sure to take care of yourself in other ways too. Aim to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced diet. These activities will help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety that can contribute to an insecure attachment style.

5. Develop trust through reliability

Trust is essential for building a healthy relationship, especially for those with insecure attachment styles. Aim to be reliable and consistent in your actions — this will help build trust between you and your partner. 10

For example, if you promise to do something for your partner, make sure that you follow through. This could mean keeping small promises like sending a text when you say you will or larger ones like planning something special for your partner.

6. Set healthy boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries in relationships is crucial for both partners’ well-being. Boundaries serve as a form of protection and allow us to stay true to ourselves without feeling overwhelmed or taken advantage of. 11

Make sure to discuss these boundaries with your partner and be understanding of their needs as well. These could be anything from needing a few minutes of alone time after work to not wanting to discuss certain topics.

Having healthy boundaries while navigating differing personalities is vital for thriving relationships. Discover how couples manage their unique dynamics.

7. Engage in self-soothing activities

Self-soothing techniques are exercises that can help us reduce our feelings of anxiety and distress. Relaxation activities such as yoga, deep breathing, or mindfulness can provide relief during difficult times and help us gain perspective. 12

Additionally, engaging in creative activities such as painting or writing can help take our minds off stressful thoughts and provide a sense of comfort. Taking time for yourself is important for overcoming insecure attachment styles — it will give you the space to process your emotions and work through issues.

8. Seek professional help if necessary

If you’re struggling to manage your attachment style, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. A therapist can provide an unbiased perspective and offer valuable advice on coping with the issues at hand.

Couples therapy benefits those with insecure attachment styles — it provides a safe space for both partners to discuss their issues and how to move forward. If you think this might be helpful, it’s worth considering seeking help from a licensed therapist.

Couples therapy is a powerful tool for harmonizing varied communication styles in relationships. Explore expert tips for fostering understanding and connection.

9. Celebrate small wins

Couples with insecure attachment styles should celebrate small victories in the relationship — they can be an essential source of encouragement during difficult times. Even something as simple as dinner out or a movie night can make all the difference.

Take the time to appreciate each other’s efforts and celebrate each milestone in your relationship. Celebrating positive moments will help create a sense of connection and security and ultimately foster a healthier relationship for both partners. 13

Relationships can be challenging, but couples can overcome insecure attachment styles with patience, understanding, and effort. Learn how other factors also impact the dynamics of meaningful relationships and how you can work through them. Here’s everything you need to know about communication in relationships.

  1. Lee, A., & Hankin, B. L. (2009). Insecure attachment, dysfunctional attitudes, and low self-esteem predicting prospective symptoms of depression and anxiety during adolescence. Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology : the official journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53, 38(2), 219–231. ↩︎

  2. Feist, J., Feist, G., & Roberts, T. (2017). Theories of Personality (9th ed.). McGraw Hill. ↩︎

  3. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. Basic Books; New York. ↩︎

  4. Duschinsky, R. (2015). The emergence of the disorganized/disoriented (D) attachment classification, 1979–1982.History of Psychology, 18(1), 32–46. ↩︎

  5. Wei, M., Mallinckrodt, B., Russell, D. W., & Abraham, W. T. (2004). Maladaptive perfectionism as a mediator and moderator between adult attachment and depressive mood. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 51(2), 201. ↩︎

  6. Hankin, B. L., Kassel, J. D., & Abela, J. R. (2005). Adult attachment dimensions and specificity of emotional distress symptoms: Prospective investigations of cognitive risk and interpersonal stress generation as mediating mechanisms. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31(1), 136-151. ↩︎

  7. Prentice, J. C., Bell, S. K., Thomas, E. J., Schneider, E. C., Weingart, S. N., Weissman, J. S., & Schlesinger, M. J. (2020). Association of open communication and the emotional and behavioural impact of medical error on patients and families: state-wide cross-sectional survey. BMJ quality & safety, 29(11), 883–894. ↩︎

  8. Harasymchuk, C., Walker, D. L., Muise, A., & Impett, E. A. (2021). Planning date nights that promote closeness: The roles of relationship goals and self-expansion. Journal of social and personal relationships, 38(5), 1692–1709. ↩︎

  9. Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clinical psychology review, 31(6), 1041–1056. ↩︎

  10. Holmes, J. G., & Rempel, J. K. (1989). Trust in close relationships. In C. Hendrick (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology (pp. 187-220). London: Sage. ↩︎

  11. Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (2000). Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships (1st ed.). Zondervan. ↩︎

  12. Basso, J. C., McHale, A., Ende, V., Oberlin, D. J., & Suzuki, W. A. (2019). Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Behavioural brain research, 356, 208–220. ↩︎

  13. Bayraktaroglu, D., Gunaydin, G., Selcuk, E., Besken, M., & Karakitapoglu-Aygun, Z. (2022). The role of positive relationship events in romantic attachment avoidance. Journal of personality and social psychology, 10.1037/pspi0000406. Advance online publication. ↩︎

Author picture of Amy Clark
Relationship Expert

Amy Clark

Amy Clark is a freelance writer who writes about relationships, marriage, and family. She has been happily married for over ten years and loves her husband and three kids. Before …

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