One of the four attachment styles is the anxious attachment style. People who have formed an anxious attachment may struggle to feel secure in relationships. They may cling to caregivers as young children or become inconsolable when a caregiver leaves. More information on anxious attachment style, signs, causes, how to fix it, and other topics will be revealed in these articles. As adults, they may be prone to jealousy or other relationship insecurities. Anxious attachment is also referred to as ambivalent attachment.
What is an Anxious Attachment Style?
Anxious attachment is a type of insecure attachment style characterized by a fear of abandonment and a sense of being underappreciated. People with an anxious attachment style, also known as preoccupied attachment disorder, are frequently concerned about being separated from their partners. According to research, approximately 19% of people have an anxious attachment style. When people have this attachment style, their inner world and the world around them feel uncertain.
Anxious attachment is one of four major attachment styles: secure attachment (characterized by the ability to easily form secure relationships), avoidant attachment (characterized by emotional unavailability); anxious attachment, and fearful-avoidant attachment (a combination of anxious and avoidant attachment styles).
How Anxious Attachment Style Develops
Anxious attachment develops in children when their parents are unpredictable or emotionally insensitive. The parent will be loving and available one moment and unavailable the next. They are not meeting basic needs for love, security, or attention the next moment. This leaves a child unsure of what to expect and desperate for attention and connection.
People with anxious attachment have a difficult time relying on others because love was not always extended to them as children. Childhood relationships may have taught some people to be wary of closeness to others; that those you love and rely on can be emotionally unpredictable, even abusive.
Signs of Anxious Attachment Style
As people grow older, the symptoms or signs of an anxious attachment style change. A child may have an anxious attachment style, according to Saltz, if they are:
1. Excessively clingy
2. whining all the time
3. When separated from their parent, they cry.
According to Behr, an adult with an anxious attachment style may exhibit the following signs:
- Fear of abandonment and rejection by a significant other that is unfounded
- Clinginess necessitates regular reassurance.
- Desires closeness and intimacy but does not feel fulfilled
An anxious attachment style can have a significant impact on a person’s relationships regardless of what their partner does. For example, a person may call and request their partner’s location regularly even if their partner gives them no reason to be concerned.
This can lead to disagreements because the partner may believe that no matter what they do, their partner remains concerned, anxious, and even paranoid about the relationship. It can be challenging for the partner, whose attempts at reassurance and commitment are undermined and negated by the anxious partner’s attachment insecurity.
Causes of Anxious Attachment Style
Anxious attachment style emerges during childhood. The relationship and interactions you have with your parents or other primary caregivers ultimately lay the groundwork. If those interactions are frequently anxiety-inducing, you’re likely to develop an anxious attachment style. The following are some examples of interactions that can result in an anxious attachment style:
When a parent’s actions change, such as switching between loving and neglectful, the child is left unsure if their needs will be met and anxious.
#2. Excessive parenting styles:
On one end, there may be a parent who is overly controlling and does not allow for age-appropriate independence. On the other hand, it could be a parent who is not focused on the child and is absent from their lives. Both types of parenting can promote an anxious attachment style.
#3. A traumatic or distressing event:
Abuse or stressful situations, such as a messy divorce, violence, or extreme poverty, can cause this attachment style.
These events and interactions can be stressful, which is why people with anxious attachment styles tend to be more stressed and have a harder time in future relationships.
Anxious Attachment Triggers
Many incidents, whether intentional or unintentional, may intentionally or unintentionally trigger someone with anxious attachment due to their general insecurities, including:
#1. Lack of responsiveness:
An anxiously attached person may be triggered when their partner does not respond to texts or phone calls for an extended period. Because they don’t know why their partner isn’t responding, they may become concerned about what may have happened or what they may have done to push their partner away. Many people experience anxiety at the start of a relationship, but people with an anxious attachment style carry this anxiety throughout the relationship.
#2. Perceived relationship threat or loss:
Certain levels of conflict can be beneficial to many people. Genuinely discussing issues, on the other hand, may trigger fears of abandonment in people who have anxiety attachment. If they hear their partner express doubts or fears about the relationship, they may catastrophize and assume the relationship is falling apart, sometimes self-sabotaging it.
#3. The partner begins to act more independently:
If an anxiously attached person’s partner begins making new friends or taking up new hobbies, it can cause feelings of abandonment and a lack of interest.
#4. Unpredictability of behavior:
When an anxious person does not know what to expect from their relationship, it creates a lot of insecurity for the person, which is very much linked to their early attachment with their caregiver. This could be a partner who says all the right things but then abruptly disappears.
Distance, even if perceived, can be triggering for people with anxious attachment styles who require constant validation. This can manifest as a partner going out with friends, connecting with others, or being unavailable due to work or family obligations.
How to fix an Anxious Attachment Style
#1. Recognize your attachment style:
Recognizing our attachment styles can help us understand our potential barriers to trust, close connection, and intimacy in adulthood. Understanding why you behave the way you do in relationships is the first step toward breaking those patterns. Every change begins with introspection and self-awareness.
#2. Modify your behavior:
Once you’ve recognized how this attachment causes problems in your relationships, you can begin making more informed decisions. The anxious behaviors you are accustomed to engaging in do not result in what you truly desire. Choosing differently, even if it is frightening or uncomfortable, can help you begin to make changes that will lead to a secure relationship.
#3. Reach out to someone you trust:
Overcoming an anxious attachment style usually necessitates the assistance of others. Reaching out to trusted family and friends could be a good place to start. Because anxious attachment makes it difficult for people close to them to trust them. It is also advised to seek therapy. Anxious attachment style is common, and most therapists can assist with it. A little effort now can save a lot of heartache and headache later on.
Can you prevent anxious attachment?
Suggestions for Parents and Caregivers:
As early as 6 months of age, infants can begin to anticipate specific caregiver responses to their distress. As a parent or caregiver, you can help prevent anxious attachment and other insecure attachment styles by responding to your baby’s distress in sensitive and loving ways consistently.
This strategy is referred to as “organized” and “secure.” When a child is in distress, they will know what to do because their caregiver is consistently responsive to their needs.
Adults with an anxious attachment style should follow these guidelines.
Experiment with communicating your needs in a clear, direct manner. Let those with whom you have relationships know what you require. Changing your communication style can be difficult. Working with a therapist or relationship counselor could be beneficial.
How does Anxious Attachment Style Affect Relationships?
If you’ve developed this type of attachment, you may find it difficult to feel secure in any type of relationship; including those with family, friends, and partners.
Relationships can frequently be found to be:
You may also be insecure in your relationships and fear rejection or abandonment. Women who experienced anxious attachment as children and were abused were found to struggle with relationships later in life.
Dealing with Anxious Attachments Style in Relationships
If you have an anxious attachment, there are some things you can do.
1. Improve your communication skills. Learning to express your emotions and ask for what you require can help you be more clear in your relationships. Nonverbal cues such as posture and gestures can help you better understand how your partner feels. This can assist you in reaching more appropriately.
2. Attend therapy. If you’re having relationship problems, it’s a good idea to see a therapist. Therapy can assist you in resolving some of the early childhood experiences that provided you with this relationship blueprint.
3. Locate someone who is firmly attached. It may feel awkward at first to be in a relationship with someone who has a secure attachment. This can help you understand what it’s like to be in a stable and safe relationship. Make an effort to make friends with people who have high self-esteem, have good boundaries, and are securely attached.
Anxious Attachment Style in Dating
People who have anxious attachments frequently desire more closeness. The issue arises when the other partner requests more space. It can lead to unhappy relationships because the person seeking more attention ends up sacrificing their own needs to make their partner happy.
Someone with anxious attachment has had dating anxiety, which causes them to appear preoccupied when they are in a relationship. Though it may appear difficult to handle, the good news is that this is a problem that can be solved if they are willing to put in a little effort.
If you have an anxious attachment style and are looking to date, you must find the right partner. Select someone who:
1. Has a higher level of emotional intelligence. A partner who can express emotions appropriately and constructively can be a wonderful companion.
2. Is emotionally open. Your partner should be safe, accessible, and attentive to your needs. He or she should not dismiss your fears.
3. Is an effective communicator. Your partner should be open in their communication. He or she should be able to understand and accept your feelings and viewpoint.
4. Is dependable. Your partner should be consistent in expressing his or her love and concern for you. When they keep their promises, it becomes easier to trust them.
5. Offers reassurance. Fights and disagreements are unavoidable in any relationship. He or she should be able to talk things through and should be able to handle fights tenderly. Choose someone who does not let their ego get in the way of their success.
6. Is upbeat and patient. Your partner should be optimistic about relationships in general. He or she should not lose their cool or patience whenever your anxiety flares up. A caring partner will want to assist you in overcoming it.
Dealing with Anxious Attachment Style Dating
If you have a history of anxious attachment dating, here are six things to keep in mind if you want to have a happy and successful long-term relationship.
#1. Acceptance and self-awareness:
Recognize that your struggle is common and human. When you are self-aware, you can deal with problems more effectively. For example, if you notice that you overanalyze your partner’s signals, second-guess their feelings, and worry that they will suddenly lose interest in you, remember that these are most likely just your anxieties. Once you’ve accepted that you have anxious attachment dating habits, you can work on coping strategies and changing your behavior.
#2. Create a life you enjoy by doing the things that make you happy:
It is critical to focus on things that make you feel good. Take the pressure off yourself by engaging in activities that will keep you busy without stressing you out. Work on improving your self-esteem. Surround yourself with people who share your interests and perspectives on life.
#3. Choose who you want to spend your time and energy on:
When looking for a partner, focus less on physical chemistry and conversational flow and more on emotional compatibility. If you feel your life has become monotonous, you should not date for the sake of having a distraction. Date someone who has similar values to you. Avoid people who have difficulty committing.
#4. Communicate clearly with your partner and be honest about your needs:
When you have anxious attachment dating habits, you need a lot of closeness to feel safe. It is critical to be open and honest about your requirements. You should never pretend not to be scared while attempting to adapt to your partner’s dating style.
#5: Calm down, relax, and think before jumping to conclusions:
Learn how to control your emotions and some coping strategies. Your fear is more likely to be triggered when you are upset. Having a routine in place will help you, and you will have something to fall back on when the anxiety strikes. Avoid reacting to situations right away.
#6. Select a compatible partner who is completely available to you:
When it comes to selecting a partner, take your time. A partner who will support you and understands that their wiring is different from yours is ideal.
Related articles: SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE: What are the Warning Signs from Children, Relationships & Marriages
Children who live with neglectful, abusive, or emotionally unavailable caregivers are more likely to develop anxious attachment. This attachment style may increase the risk of anxiety disorders and low self-esteem later in life, as well as negatively impact relationships.
You may be able to restructure your thoughts as an adult to help you move toward a more secure attachment style. This will necessitate a combination of self-awareness, patience, and deliberate effort. Working with a therapist can also aid in breaking the cycle of anxious attachment.
Why are Avoidants attracted to anxious?
Liberated from their fear of engulfment, the avoidant partner expresses love freely; liberated from their fear of abandonment, the anxious partner feels secure and trusting.
Is anxious attachment a disorder?
Children who live with neglectful, abusive, or emotionally unavailable caregivers are more likely to develop anxious attachment. This attachment style has been linked to an increased risk of anxiety disorders and low self-esteem later in life, as well as a negative impact on relationships.