How To Know If Your Date Has A Secure Attachment Style

Understanding whether your date has a secure attachment style can be challenging at times. However, there are subtle signs that you can look out for to gauge their emotional compatibility with you.

By paying attention to these indicators, you can gain insight into their attachment style and understand if you are compatible on an emotional level.

illustration of a man and woman facing each other putting their hands together, in front of love hearts
Securely attached individuals are attuned to others but won’t probe too much too soon. They don’t rush the process. They respect the dating process and its intention to get to know someone and evaluate compatibility.

Attachment theory posits that individuals with secure attachments, based on consistent positive interactions with supportive figures, value close relationships, seek intimacy, and regulate emotions effectively.

Such secure individuals view relationships as rewarding and are inclined towards lasting bonds, emphasizing the benefits of togetherness.

Why should you look for someone with a secure attachment style?

Securely attached people are more likely to share personal information and be responsive to their partner’s disclosures, fostering intimacy and closeness in relationships.

Their focus on mutual trust and commitment often leads to stable, satisfying relationships. A secure attachment style is conducive to forming intimate, committed, and supportive bonds in romantic relationships.

Research indicates that securely attached individuals value intimacy and trust, whereas anxiously attached individuals focus on security, and avoidant individuals emphasize control.

Anxiously attached people might be overly eager for security and intimacy, but their intense need can lead to frustration when their desires for affection and reassurance aren’t met. They seek closeness but may approach it differently from securely attached individuals.

Avoidant individuals prioritize autonomy over intimacy, distancing themselves from partners, especially during distress.

These attachment styles can affect relationship quality and stability. So, a big question is: Can people spot these emotional traits when they first meet someone?

Identifying Secure Attachment on a First Date

Determining if your date has a secure attachment can be tricky, especially in the early stages of getting to know someone.

Here are some signs and subtle indicators to look for:

  1. Open Communication: They are comfortable talking about their feelings, thoughts, and experiences without seeming overly guarded or too revealing. They are transparent about their intentions, whether for long-term or casual dating.
  2. Empathetic Listening: They listen well, showing genuine interest in what you have to say and respond thoughtfully.
  3. Comfort with Independence: They seem comfortable with the idea of both partners having their own lives, interests, and independence.
  4. Boundaries: They clearly communicate their boundaries and respect differences in opinion.
  5. Consistency: They don’t send mixed signals about their interest. Their words align with their actions.
  6. No Game Playing: They don’t try to manipulate or play hard to get. Instead, they are direct and honest about their feelings and intentions.
  7. Comfortable with Intimacy: They are not overly anxious about getting close or too distant. There’s a balance.
  8. Responsive to Needs: They show concern for your feelings and needs, and they respect the boundaries you set.
  9. Positive Outlook on Relationships: They speak about past relationships without excessive bitterness or clinging, and they generally have a positive attitude about relationships.
  10. Comfort in Their Own Skin: They seem comfortable with who they are, and they’re not overly self-critical or boastful.
  11. They Value Your Opinion: They ask for your thoughts on various topics and genuinely consider them.
  12. Non-verbal cues: Facial expressions can hint at a person’s emotional style. For instance, secure individuals (those not anxious or avoidant) tend to smile more during positive talks about their relationships. On the other hand, avoidant individuals show fewer signs of closeness.

It’s essential to remember that one or two dates is a very short amount of time to gauge someone’s attachment style. While these signs can provide some hints, it’s crucial not to jump to conclusions.

On first dates, people might hide or exaggerate certain traits. For instance, good looks or flattery can sometimes overshadow other qualities, making it harder to read someone’s true emotional style.

Identifying Attachment Styles Through Dating Apps

Research studies have examined how people’s attachment styles affect how they act on dating apps.

While anxious individuals actively seek validation and connection on dating apps, avoidant individuals tend to distance themselves, limiting their engagement and potential benefits from these platforms.

Anxious Attachment

Even though the connection between attachment and dating app usage is under-researched, individuals with an anxious attachment style seem more inclined to use dating apps.

They likely see these platforms as an opportunity to find potential partners and reassure themselves, even as they worry about rejection.

People with higher anxious attachment are more inclined to use dating apps, possibly because these apps enhance their chances of finding a partner while minimizing the fear of rejection.

Dating apps offer such individuals a wide array of potential partners, allowing them to buffer against unsatisfactory interactions or rejections.

Dating apps may appeal to them as they only display mutual interests, making rejection less obvious.

Anxiously attached users tend to be less selective and more proactive in initiating conversations. Their fear of being alone might make them set lower standards for partners.

Anxious users might be more proactive on dating apps, possibly using strategies like the “shotgun approach,” where they swipe right on many profiles to maximize their chances of finding a match.

Avoidant Attachment

People with an avoidant attachment style often keep an emotional distance from others and are wary of forming close relationships. Their distrust isn’t necessarily rooted in fear of abandonment, like anxiously attached individuals, but rather in a desire for autonomy and less reliance on others.

This attachment style tends to be less interested in using dating apps, as online relationships can form quickly and intensively, which might be uncomfortable for them.

When they do use dating apps, it might be in scenarios with less commitment, like while traveling.

Avoidantly-attached people generally have positive self-views and base their self-worth on their achievements. While they might avoid close relationships, they can still recognize the many potential partners available to them.

Can I Tell The Attachment Style From My Date’s Tone Of Voice?

In adults, vocal features can offer insights into attachment security within romantic relationships. Although people can control the words they use, they often can’t regulate the tonal aspects of their speech.

Identifying a person’s attachment style based solely on prosody (i.e., tone of voice, rhythm, stress, and intonation) can be challenging and is not a definitive or standard method for such assessments.

However, there are some ways that prosody might provide hints about an individual’s attachment tendencies. Here are some considerations:

  1. Emotional Expressiveness: People with secure attachment styles might exhibit prosody congruent with their emotional state and be more consistent in their vocal expressions.

    For example, their tone might become softer and slower when expressing sadness or empathy.
  2. Hypersensitivity: Those with anxious attachment might be more hypersensitive to shifts in the prosody of others, and their own prosody might fluctuate more with perceived emotional cues
  3. Avoidance: In contrast, individuals with avoidant attachment might downplay or ignore emotional cues, and their tone might remain more neutral or detached, even when discussing emotional topics.
  4. Consistency vs. Inconsistency: A consistent tone of voice that matches the content of speech can indicate a secure attachment style, whereas inconsistency might hint at unresolved attachment issues.

    For instance, if someone talks about a sad event using a cheerful tone, it might suggest a disconnect between their feelings and their expression.
  5. Response to Stress: Under stress or during conflicts, an individual’s prosody might become more revealing.

    For example, someone with an anxious attachment style might exhibit a heightened pitch or faster speech rate when feeling insecure, while someone with an avoidant style might become more monotonic and reserved.
  6. Interpersonal Dynamics: By observing interactions between two individuals, one might notice patterns in prosody that reflect attachment dynamics.

    For example, in a dyadic interaction, if one person’s tone becomes sharp or dismissive, an individual with anxious attachment might respond with a heightened or pleading tone.

Research has shown that vocal indicators can be linked to infidelity, relationship commitment issues, and now, partnership maintenance. In the study, men with more masculine voices were found to have avoidant attachment behaviors and less constructive communication in relationships.

Women’s voices, however, showed no significant correlation with attachment or communication patterns.

One theory proposes that voice pitch and relationship behaviors are both influenced by testosterone levels. Men with higher testosterone (and hence deeper voices) tend to exhibit avoidant attachment and poor communication.

In contrast, men with feminine voices might adopt positive communication patterns and a non-avoidant attachment style to balance their mate value.

Note, the interpretation of prosody can be subjective and might vary based on the listener’s own attachment style, experiences, and cultural background.

People may have certain tones of voice unrelated to attachment style. For example, autistic people may have more of a flat tone and may not always pick up on subtle emotional cues.

Also, it does not mean that you should be suspicious of your partner’s fidelity based on their vocal indicators alone.

Identifying Attachment Style Through Texting Behavior

In today’s digital age, texting is not just a convenience but has become the primary means of communication in the initial phases of dating.

As dating apps rise in popularity, texting overtakes traditional phone conversations. Here’s a guide to deciphering texting behaviors based on Attachment styles:

Secure Attachment

Those with a secure attachment style are balanced in their texting approach. They reply attentively but are not overbearing. They willingly share snippets of their life, making their interest evident.

But if the romantic spark isn’t there, they can communicate their feelings without causing undue pain, reflecting their inherent nature of avoiding unnecessary hurt.

Avoidant Attachment

Dating someone with an avoidant attachment? Brace for sporadic communication. They might wait days before initiating another conversation or date, giving you a sense of distance.

They might pull back after an intimate sharing session, taking time to respond. However, their delayed responses aren’t a measure of their interest level.

They might suddenly re-engage, catching you off guard. But if they decide to move on, they might silently retreat, commonly known as “ghosting.”

However, not everyone who ghosts has avoidant attachment – people may ghost or be distant for a variety of reasons/commitments, so you shouldn’t just assume they have an insecure attachment.

Anxious Attachment

Dating an Ambivalent individual can feel like an emotional whirlwind. They might inundate you with messages, and any delay in your response might amplify their outreach.

Their texts might carry an undertone of urgency and neediness, often craving reassurance. Their intense communication style, even in casual conversations, can make them appear clingy or demanding.

How to Attract a Partner With a Secure Attachment Style

Securely attached individuals tend to gravitate towards partners with a similar attachment style, shared beliefs, feelings, and perspectives on intimacy and dependence.

While developing a secure attachment can help attract a like-minded partner, even those working towards security can benefit from a secure partner’s stabilizing influence.

To increase the chances of attracting a secure partner:

  1. Date Yourself: Spend quality time understanding and valuing yourself. This self-awareness is crucial for personal growth and for building strong relationships.
  2. Prioritize Self-Worth: How we treat ourselves sets the bar for allowing others to treat us. Boosting self-esteem contributes to relationship satisfaction.
  3. Be Emotionally Open: Overcoming fears of intimacy and rejection, often rooted in past traumas, allows for deeper connections and trust in relationships.

In essence, cultivating a strong, understanding relationship with oneself, characterized by self-awareness, esteem, and emotional openness, can increase the likelihood of attracting a secure and empathetic partner.

In a dating context, it’s important to note that an insecure attachment style isn’t a deal-breaker.

People displaying insecure attachments can actually benefit significantly from a partner with a secure attachment style, as it can help them become more secure over time.

Ending a relationship solely based on perceived insecure attachment may be premature, unless other significant red flags cannot be overlooked.

Dating Tactics of Insecure Individuals

On a first date, individuals with insecure attachments may enhance or alter their presentation to seem more appealing, especially when aware of their romantic shortcomings.

They may intentionally use strategies that accentuate their positive attributes to attract potential partners.

This can mislead individuals into believing they’ve found a desirable mate, only to face relational issues later due to underlying insecurities.

Anxious Attachment Traits

People with insecure anxious attachment may possess traits that are intially perceived as attractive.

  • Sign of Investment: Attachment anxiety in the early stages of a relationship can be interpreted as a sign that an individual is genuinely invested in the bond. It suggests that they care deeply about the outcome and the direction in which the relationship is headed.
  • Enhanced Communication: To alleviate their anxious feelings, individuals might be more inclined to communicate openly about their feelings, desires, and fears, paving the way for honest dialogues.
  • Depth of Connection: This vulnerability, driven by anxiety, can foster a deeper emotional connection between partners. Sharing concerns or insecurities can lead to moments of mutual reassurance, solidifying trust.

Avoidant Attachment Traits

Avoidant individuals, despite their preference for distance, also seek social connections. Their tendency to suppress negative thoughts can make them appear upbeat and humorous.

They might come off as independent and self-sufficient, traits that can be appealing in the early stages of a relationship.

Avoidant individuals, known for distancing from emotional closeness, may display physical touch as a dating strategy, potentially using it as a substitute for genuine emotional closeness.

Another tactic observed in avoidant partners is increased eye contact, signaling emotional communicativity, and making them appear more attractive.

Intentional Self-Presentation

Insecure individuals might deliberately present themselves in a more positive light during dating, sometimes even resorting to deception. They are also more likely to adjust their behavior based on social pressures rather than their true nature.

Specifically, anxious individuals may convey positive qualities to potential partners, such as being nice, engaging, and interesting.

This tendency to engage might be misinterpreted as genuine niceness. Moreover, being seen as kind is a critical predictor of securing further dates.

Anxious individuals may appear more captivating, likely due to their diverse self-expression, and are more talkative in dating scenarios, possibly as a mating strategy or lack of self-censorship.

Avoidant individuals, in particular, have been found to downplay their interpersonal deficits, presenting themselves positively despite having negative self-beliefs.


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Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Educator, Researcher

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.