Author(s): Bartholomew K
A basic principle of attachment theory is that early attachment relationships with caregivers provide the prototype for later social relations. Working within an attachment framework, a new 4-group model of characteristic attachment styles in adulthood is proposed. In particular, two forms of adult avoidance of intimacy are differentiated: a fearful style that is characterized by a conscious desire for social contact which is inhibited by fears of its consequences, and a dismissing style that is characterized by a defensive denial of the need or desire for greater social contact. This distinction corresponds to two differing models of the self: people who fearfully avoid intimacy view themselves as undeserving of the love and support of others, and people who dismiss intimacy possess a positive model of the self that minimizes the subjective awareness of distress or social needs. The emotional and interpersonal ramifications of the two proposed styles of adult avoidance are discussed.