Relationship Attachment Styles—Are you a rock, paper or scissor?

by Jen Girard

Attraction and connection are a natural part of our DNA, so why isn’t it naturally easy to be in a love relationship? The answer has a lot to do with how we attach to others. Understanding your attachment style is essential to the process of forming and sustaining a healthy long-lasting relationship.

There are three distinct ways of attaching in relationships: securely, anxiously or avoidably. These sound so clinical and boring that I’ve renamed them Rock, Paper and Scissors. The titles speak for themselves.

The Rock (a secure person) feels comfortable with intimacy and is naturally warm and loving. They’re stable as, well, a rock. They accept themselves, including their strengths and weaknesses. They trust themselves and their partners and they are able to honestly state their wants and needs. Rocks are more naturally capable of developing intimacy with others.

The Paper (an anxious person) can be either smothering or fluttering like paper on a windy day. They are often overly preoccupied with their dating relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back. Any small threat to the relationship can provoke anxiety for a Paper.

The Scissor (an avoider) is more comfortable being independent of others and cuts off closeness and intimacy before it has a chance. Closeness feels too uncomfortable and they fear a loss of independence. They keep their partner at arm’s length and constantly guessing.


When Rock meets Rock, the chances of forming a solid relationship are strong. When Papers and Scissor interact in relationships, watch out! This is where the challenges get tough and the frustration factors are high–especially when the Papers and Scissor are completely unaware of their patterns of attachment.


Papers generally ignore Rocks because the relationship seems boring and predictable, or there is a lack of instant chemistry and attraction that Papers crave. Scissor also avoid Rocks out of shear fear of intimacy–they are simply too scared.


What happens when a Paper and a Scissor get together? After a lot of fear and avoidance–nothing! This combination is simply not sustainable. The anxious Paper’s tendency to cling and be needy is in direct opposition to the Scissor’s tendency to push away and require space.


Which of these signs apply to you and/or your relationships? Can you determine whether it’s Rock, Paper or Scissor?


  • Expresses instant magnetic attraction upon first meeting (aka love at first sight)
  • Plays games or sends mixed signals that keeps a partner guessing
  • Chooses work and friends before a partner
  • Has a history very short-term relationships with long periods between those relationships
  • Rushes into being a couple, without any consideration of compatibility
  • Overly focused with their partner’s physical characteristics, ignoring personality and character attributes
  • Jumps into sex too soon and believes sex is intimacy
  • Displays jealousy and monitors their partner’s activities, emails, phone calls, etc.
  • Ditches friends or other commitments to be with their partner
  • Fantasizes about the magical qualities of the relationship
  • Allows the relationship to build naturally and slowly and doesn’t require drama
  • Consistently demonstrates confidence in a way that’s not narcissistic or self-absorbed
  • Able to communicate honestly (not perfectly) what is needed in the relationship


How do you attach? If you’ve discovered that you or your potential partner has a history of less-than-secure relationships, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad sign or that there is something wrong.  Commit to doing some challenging work with DateWise and open yourself up to change. You’ll find you can be in a secure and long-lasting relationship. You will learn to appreciate the qualities of a Rock either by adapting your own behaviors or you’ll meet a Rock who balances your Paper or Scissor qualities.


So you can see that understanding your attachment style, as well as your partner’s style, is paramount to forming a healthy long-term relationship. It’s also important to realize that relationship building isn’t an overnight process. With the right guidance and tools, you can approach dating and relationships a new way that can lead to long-lasting love.

Ready to start your journey to love?