Attachment Styles

How they influence behaviors related to intimacy, trust, and betrayals

Self-disclosure

Confident

  • Generally starts with small disclosures
  • Gradually discloses more info about self over time
  • Uses self-disclosure to gradually build intimacy and trust

Concerned

  • Tendency to disclose too much too quickly
  • Hopes that disclosing info quickly will create closeness and intimacy
  • Tendency to over disclose can sometimes backfire and scare others away

Cool

  • Prefers to keep things to themselves
  • Uncomfortable sharing info about self with others
  • Can come across as being tight-lipped and secretive

Love

Confident

  • Feelings of love involve passion and concern for a partner
  • Experiences deep feelings of appreciation for a partner
  • Has the strong desire to take care of a partner

Concerned

  • Often experiences intense, head-over-heels feelings of love
  • Tendency to fall in love quickly or at first sight
  • May feel out of control when falling in love

Cool

  • More practical when it comes to love
  • Love may not involve intense feelings
  • More level-headed when it comes to romance

Trust

Confident

  • Believes that a partner will treat them well
  • Trusts a partner until given a reason not to
  • Saddened when a partner betrays their trust

Concerned

  • Hopes that a partner won't betray their trust, but fearful that it will happen
  • Doubts about self-worth lead to concerns that partner won't keep promises
  • Extremely hurt, but not surprised when a partner betrays them

Cool

  • Doesn’t expect a partner to live up to their expectations
  • Least likely to believe that a partner can be trusted
  • Not surprised when a partner betrays them

Commitment

Confident

  • Comfortable making commitments to a partner
  • Tries to honor commitments
  • Assumes that a partner will keep commitments, unless given reason not to believe so

Concerned

  • Tendency to rush into commitments and make sacrifices for relationship
  • Eager to make large investments in their relationships
  • Concerned that a partner isn’t as committed or invested in the relationship

Cool

  • Uncomfortable making commitments
  • Commitments can feel overly constraining
  • Fears losing self to relationship

Jealousy

Confident

  • Generally not jealous, unless there's a good reason to be
  • Likely to calmly talk to partner about issue
  • Tries to make sure the relationship is the best it can be when jealousy arises

Concerned

  • Can experience jealousy and worry about losing a partner even when there's no threat
  • May deal with their jealous feelings by trying to make a partner jealous
  • Can easily let their jealousy get the best of them

Cool

  • Rarely experiences jealousy
  • Likely to ignore or overlook threats to their relationship
  • Less likely to talk about the issue or bring it up

Conflict

Confident

  • Adopts an “us versus the problem” mentality and feels that it’s important to talk about disagreements
  • Less likely to view conflict as destructive, but as a fact of life
  • Tries to understand partner's position and tries to find a solution that works for everyone

Concerned

  • Can view conflict as threatening to the relationship
  • Often concerned that their needs won’t be met when conflict arises
  • Can let their emotions get the best of them and become controlling and aggressive during arguments

Cool

  • Dislikes conflict
  • Tries to downplay or ignore the issue, if possible
  • Often withdraws from conflict

Sex

Confident

  • Good at communicating likes and dislikes to a partner
  • Good at using sex to please and connect with a partner
  • Often adopts an open and playful attitude toward sex with a partner

Concerned

  • Prefers intimate forms of sexual contact such as kissing, cuddling, and direct eye contact
  • May also like to be dominated by a partner
  • Insecurities may sometimes get in the way of enjoying sex

Cool

  • Prefers recreational and less intimate forms of sex
  • Less likely to connect with a partner during sex
  • Prefers quick and short encounters to prolonged love making

Raising Issues

Confident

  • Likes to tackle issues head on
  • Attempts to talk to a partner as issues come up
  • Tries to work with partner to resolve issues

Concerned

  • Often fears that raising issues will upset a partner
  • Likely to ruminate on problems rather than talk about them
  • Simmering feelings about issues may come up in indirect and passive ways

Cool

  • Likely to avoid talking about issues
  • Often ignores issues hoping they will go away
  • If an issue does get raised, may to do so with hostility and anger

Criticism

Confident

  • Tries to listen to a partner’s complaints
  • Takes responsibility for mistakes that were made
  • Works to make amends

Concerned

  • Has a difficult time listening to a partner’s criticism
  • Tends to view criticism as a personal attack rather than a complaint about one's behavior
  • May struggle to admit when mistakes were made

Cool

  • Often reacts defensively to criticism
  • When faced with criticism may point out a partner’s flaws
  • Often puts little effort into addressing the issue

Intimacy

Confident

  • Easy to get close to
  • Comfortable with intimacy
  • Good at managing closeness while maintaining one's identity

Concerned

  • Often wants more intimacy and closeness from a partner
  • Generally wants to spend most of their time with a partner rather than alone or with others
  • May feel lost if not in a relationship

Cool

  • Uncomfortable with high levels of intimacy
  • Tries to keep a partner at a comfortable distance
  • Stresses importance of not losing self to the relationship

Infidelity

Confident

  • Less likely to cheat on a partner
  • Likely to feel remorse over cheating
  • Likely to experience empathy for the pain their actions caused

Concerned

  • May flirt or cheat due to their desire for attention
  • May flirt or cheat because they don’t want to disappoint the “other person” (need for approval can lead to cheating)
  • Likely to experience shame after cheating

Cool

  • Most likely to cheat on a partner
  • Cheating is often used to maintain some distance from a partner
  • Less likely to feel shame or guilt about cheating

Lying

Confident

  • Less likely to deceive a partner
  • Experiences less intimacy and closeness when lying to a partner
  • More likely to feel guilt over lying to a partner

Concerned

  • Lying to a partner is often motivated to avoid conflict and a partner’s disapproval
  • Likely to tell a partner what he or she thinks a partner wants to hear (lying motivated to appease a partner)
  • Fearful that telling the truth may lead to rejection

Cool

  • Most likely to lie to a partner
  • May use deception to keep partner at a safe distance
  • May experience little regret or remorse over lying to a partner

We've also created a podcast on attachment and betrayals.

Note: The table below identifies how the attachment terms we use in Broken Trust relate to academic research on the topic.

Attachment Terms We Use
Academic Terms Used
Confident Secure Attachment
Concerned Anxious, Anxious/Ambivalent, Preoccupied, Enmeshed, Anxious/Resistant, Resistant
Cool Dismissing, Detached, Avoidant
Confused Fearful/Avoidant, Avoidant, Disorganized, Disoriented
Yes No