Definition of Ambivalent Attachment

Ambivalent attachment is a type of insecure attachment style that develops in early childhood, characterized by inconsistent and uncertain behavior in relationships.


Ambivalent attachment refers to a pattern of attachment that results from a caregiver’s inconsistent availability or responsiveness. Children with ambivalent attachment may display clingy and needy behaviors while also showing resistance or anger towards their caregiver.


Those with an ambivalent attachment style often experience insecurity and anxiety in relationships. Some common characteristics include:

  • Excessive dependency on others for emotional support
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Mistrust and difficulty forming deep connections
  • High emotional volatility
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Intense need for reassurance and validation


Ambivalent attachment can develop due to various factors, such as:

  • Inconsistent care or neglect during childhood
  • Caregiver’s unpredictable responsiveness to the child’s needs
  • Early separation or trauma
  • Inconsistent or unpredictable caregiving environment

Impact on Relationships

Ambivalent attachment can influence relationships throughout one’s life. Individuals with this attachment style may struggle with:

  • Difficulty trusting and forming secure attachments
  • Frequent conflicts and fears of rejection
  • Seeking excessive reassurance and validation
  • Emotional rollercoasters and intense emotional reactions
  • Feeling overwhelmed by intimacy and closeness

Understanding ambivalent attachment can be helpful in both personal relationships and therapeutic settings, enabling individuals to develop healthier attachment styles and build more secure connections with others.