NARM defines five basic relational styles (described below). Everyone expresses one or two prominent styles, which shape the way we think, behave, feel and love others.
Our relational styles reveal how our minds and bodies are wired for love and connection.
Through insight, we can choose to keep the patterns that serve our relationships and our personal well-being, and let go of the patterns that don’t.

The five relational styles are named after the resource that was lacking or not experienced in the child’s early home environment in relationship with his or her caregivers.

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People with this relational pattern foreclose on the importance of connection. They may feel frozen in their intense need and extreme fear of contact, and often experience connection with others as threatening. Therefore, as a defense, they isolate and reject connection and authentic intimacy with others. They can also hide from authentic connection in roles such as scientist, lawyer, doctor etc., where they can use thinking instead of feeling. Romantic adult relationships are challenging in that they feel like they don’t fit in and are a burden.


People with this relational pattern struggle with their needs. They long for nourishment from others but believe that their needs will never really be met; therefore, they feel chronically dissatisfied. They want to be intimate with others but find others are reluctant to get as close as they would like. Therefore, as a defense, they become fixated on receiving nurturing and often engage in relationships in a very demanding, needy way. They may focus on others’ needs compulsively. Also, as a defense, they can become unavailable when presented with an available partner. Unaccustomed to receiving love, an available, loving partner doesn’t fit their needy sense of self.


People with this relational pattern struggle with healthy trust and interdependence, as they feel they are being used and betrayed in their love relationships. Therefore, as a defense, they often need to dominate and control to protect their deep fear of vulnerability in love. They prefer to feel independent and self-sufficient, and avoid healthy interdependence with their partners. They can behave like lone-wolfs and therefore often become isolated.


People with this relational style have trouble expressing their independence and authentic selves, and they are often paralyzed by internal contradictions. Therefore, as a defense, they have difficulty setting boundaries because they believe that if they do not people please, they will not be loved. They see relationships as traps in which they lose their freedom and independence.


People with this relational style are anxious about their love relationships, as they fear rejection and heartbreak. Therefore, as a defense, they may base their self-esteem on looks and performance, in an attempt to keep their loved one. They often have trouble tolerating the vulnerability they experience when they integrate love and sexuality in their most intimate relationships.

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Take the NARM relational styles quiz.

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