The attachment theory explains how we behave and react in relationships. According to attachment theory, our relationships with our primary caregivers during early childhood has an impact on our relationships as adults, it also affects our loving relationship.

An anxious attachment style is one of the insecure attachment styles, but don’t make yourself wrong that wont help you or anyone else. We all have work to do. An anxious attachment style or disorder is also sometimes called as preoccupied attachment disorder. Studies show that an estimated 1/5th of adults have an anxious attachment style. This article answers some of the often-repeated questions regarding the anxious attachment style.

What is the Anxious Attachment Style?

An anxious attachment style is an insecure attachment style characterized by anxiety, a strong fear of abandonment or feeling unappreciated in relationships. This kind of attachment style starts early in childhood. Inconsistent parenting during childhood is cited as the reason for the anxious attachment style in adults. Anxious attachment -based individuals often show signs of anxiety, but also low self-esteem, they have a strong emotional fear of rejection, and often have clingy behavior. These emotions obviously get played out into a loving relationship where they may experience anxiety or nervousness in their loving relationship.

What Causes the Setup of an Anxious Attachment Style in Adults? 

Inconsistent parenting patterns in early childhood are the major cause of anxious attachment styles in individuals. It happens when parents listen to the needs of the child at certain times, and not at other times. The child develops confusion about the parent’s behavior which leads to an insecure attachment style. Though they have been loved and cared for on a surface level, the child’s emotional needs have not be met consistently, leading to an anxious attachment as a child, and in later life as an adult.

If the primary caregivers have anxiety, this is another reason for an anxious attachment style being passed onto a child. When the parents with anxiety seek emotional or physical closeness to satiate their need to dampen their own anxiety rather than meeting the child’s requirement of love, a clingy nature is learnt by the child because this has been the parents nature. Other reasons for an anxious attachment style developing are early separation from parents, trauma, neglect, a caregiver going through depression, an inexperienced or young parent, long hospitalization, and more. Also, physical or psychological abuse in early childhood may lead to the development of an anxious attachment style.

What are the Signs of an Anxious Attachment Style Individual?

Individuals with an anxious attachment style are likely to be sensitive and have low self-esteem. They are often insecure and anxious in most relationships and of course in their loving relationship. They will look for constant reassurance that they are loved, good, and worthy enough. Some of the signs of an anxious attachment-based individual in a loving relationship are:

  • A strong fear of abandonment
  • Difficulty trusting their partner
  • Seeking constant reassurance
  • Stay clingy and preoccupied in their loving relationship with their partner
  • Tendency to overly fixate on their loving partner and not their own life
  • May get easily obsessed with projects
  • May disregard the feelings of others or their loving partner
  • Highly emotional
  • A low or negative view of the self in relationships and their loving relationship

How does an Anxious Attachment Style Benefit an Individual?

Attachment styles also have benefits. Individuals with an anxious attachment style are often alpha men or alpha women and are often very driven individuals (but will however struggle to relax). They respond quickly to danger or perceived threats and can identify problems rapidly. They are very protective to friends, family and their loving partner. They will often be willing to give a lot more to a loving partner emotionally and financially than others, and go out to protect their loving partner at all costs – so are often very, very loving as they crave connection.

Can a Person with an Anxious Attachment Style overcome this Attachment Style

As attachment styles are developed as a result of relationships with the primary caregivers in early life, it is not usually an overnight success with counseling, therapy or coaching sessions to change them. But the good news is with a highly skilled professional the challenges of having an anxious attachment can be overcome and a person with an anxious attachment can move towards a secure attachment with a loving partner. Here are a few points too that will help someone gradually overcome an anxious attachment style:

  • Develop self-awareness about your attachment style
  • Watch closely how you behave in relationships and in your loving relationship
  • Choose an exercise regime that helps you to develop greater self-control over your emotions and control over your personal behavior, like martial arts
  • Try to surround yourself with individuals with secure attachment styles
  • Work with a highly skilled professional counselor, therapist or coach to work through this attachment style

What is it like to Date someone with an Anxious Attachment Style? 

Dating someone with an anxious attachment style may feel like an emotional roller-coaster ride. They might crave a deep connection and intimacy but have difficulty in trusting the person they are dating. Given the childhood experiences they have come through, they find it difficult to trust their prospective partner. Dating someone they really like may create overwhelming anxiety in them and a need for the relationship to develop quickly to provide them with safety.

Consequently, anxious attachment individuals may become obsessive about their  prospective partner. They may behave in ways that you may feel overwhelmed by, as they may likely show emotional neediness and clinginess in the dating phase of the loving relationship. A slight disappointment or a sign of rejection can be overwhelming and painful to them. On the other hand they may suffer from anxiety and this may play out as seeming intense, but if you can look through their behavior they can be very genuine and loving.

How to know whether your Partner is an Anxious Attachment-Based Individual? 

People with anxious attachment styles will have trust issues with their romantic partner. As a result of low self-esteem, they might seek constant reassurance and validation from their partner. Because of their lack of a sense of security and safety and so confidence, they tend to suppress their needs and desires. If your partner has  an anxious attachment style, they may seem clingy and overly dependent on the relationship. They will be oversensitive about your actions, words, and behavior. They may too feel jealous when you spend time with other people and not include them. They will want to spend all of their free time with you.

What to do when you have an Anxious Attachment Style-Based Partner?

Firstly, it is important to be patient and consistent with your partner who has an anxious attachment style personality. You need to patiently listen to the needs and concerns of this partner. You should let your partner know how you feel for them, love them, and how committed you are. Try to keep your word and your actions honest, truthful and consistent so that it will help your partner to improve their trust in you and your loving relationship. Also, make sure you are consistent in your attention and care for them. Finally, you should show compassion, love, and motivation for the person to challenge the thought patterns and emotions of an anxious attachment style being healed over time in your loving relationship with you. Make sure they feel safe and cared about and over time this loving and caring environment can heal this attachment style.

Summing Up

The attachment theory says that our attachment as adults is a reflection of our relationship with our primary caregivers. Knowing your attachment styles and applying dedicated effort towards changing them with professional support from a highly skilled counselor, therapist or coach will help you build happy and healthier relationships and a happier, more secure loving relationship. An anxious attachment style is one of the insecure attachment styles in which the individual constantly suffers from low to higher levels of anxiety and usually a fear of abandonment. Given the poor experience of secure relationships as a child they lack confidence in being in a secure relationship as an adult, so they sometimes become jealous and obsessive in a loving relationship. The flip side is they can be extremely loving and loyal partners when appreciated and understood.

Though attachment styles may seem to be permanent, there are a lot of ways to overcome the challenges of insecure attachment patterns. With the help of a highly skilled professional therapist, counselor or coach and consistent effort, it is quite possible to change your attachment patterns. When you know your attachment style and your partners, it becomes much easier to make your loving relationship succeed. If you feel this resonates with you and want to work through anything with our professional support, please reach out to us.