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How to overcome anxious attachment style’s impact on relationships

anxious attachment
Photo by boram kim on Unsplash

This post is second in a series on attachment and will focus on the anxious style. To read the introduction and discover your attachment style, click here. For avoidant style, click here. For disorganized or fearful avoidant, click here.

Anxious attachment results from inconsistent parenting. The child never knows whether the parent will be supportive or unavailable. So, they become confused about the relationship and never know what to expect.

Another reason for anxious attachment is the parent using the child to fulfil their own need for emotional fulfillment, rather than being there for the child.

They appear to be overprotective but use the child to increase their own image as an ideal parent. The parent may also demonstrate emotional distance.

Signs of anxious attachment

1. insecure in relationships and constantly worried about rejection or abandonment

2. needs constant reassurance and wants to merge with partner which scares the person away

3. low self-esteem but thinks highly of others

4. obsesses over relationship issues and appears clingy and desperate

5. overly sensitive to partner’s actions and moods and takes their behavior personally

6. highly emotional and argumentative, controlling, with poor boundaries

Anxiously attached people will report falling in love over and over rather than sustaining one long-term relationship. They need constant affirmation that they are loved and cared for.

Anxiously attached people will report falling in love over and over rather than sustaining one long-term relationship. They need constant affirmation that they are loved and cared for. Click To Tweet

Because they are so needy, they push people away and feel like their needs are often unmet. This results in frequent breakups. They are almost inconsolable when those relationships do end.

Though they are sensitive and in tune with their partner’s emotional needs, they often gravitate to avoidant partners.

When this person fails to meet their needs, they’ll blame themselves and take it as proof of their unworthiness.

They might make up a fantasy of a stable relationship and ignore all the red flags that things aren’t right. So, they are blindsided when the relationship ends despite all the warning signs.

Their constant fear of abandonment results in jealousy, clinginess, and an inability to simply enjoy their partner’s company, explore and grow in the relationship.

Can you change anxious attachment?

anxious attachment

Sometimes change will happen as a result of being in relationship with a securely attached person. They will show you love and emotional closeness and provide the security you desire in a relationship.

Whether or not you are lucky enough to find such a partner, you will need to do some work. Pay attention to how you interact with your relationship partner and your emotions as they come up in response to feeling insecure in the relationship.

Talk to others besides your partner about the feelings you’re experiencing. Whether a friend, family member, or therapist, practice relying on people other than your partner to help you regulate your emotions.

Seek out securely attached partners and be honest about what you need. Let them know separation is hard for you, so you need to know when you’ll come together again.

By the same token, let go of relationships with insecurely attached people as this will only exacerbate your pain. Although the prospect of being alone is terrifying, it’s a pain that’s worthwhile to face and overcome.

You might decide to take a certain amount of time away from romantic relationships while you work on nurturing yourself.

You might decide to take a certain amount of time away from romantic relationships while you work on nurturing yourself. Click To Tweet

Develop self-validation rather than seeking approval from outside sources. This means learning how to connect authentically with your feelings and needs.

Then finding ways to meet those needs yourself rather than relying on a partner to meet them for you.

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