How to overcome an anxious attachment style (2023)

How to overcome an anxious attachment style (1)

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Christina Reese, doktor, LCPC

Last update: 7/12/2023

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How to overcome an anxious attachment style (2)

When Carol was a child, her mother often struggled with anxiety. She was uncertain about her relationship with her daughter and felt threatened by Carol's relationships with her friends. To keep Carol close to her, her mother imposed strict rules on how often she could see and interact with her friends.

As Carol grew older, the role model created by her mother became her internal model for working in relationships. She believes that all relationships work this way because it has become the norm for her.

At work, Carol is known as a micro-manager. She needs to know what all her employees are working on and how they perform their duties. Staff turnover is frequent due to the lack of autonomy, but Carol appreciates the feedback from her superiors that her team is efficient, organized and gets the job done. He attributes this feedback to his micromanagement.

At home, Carol is in control. Timetables are posted throughout the house so everyone knows what to do at a certain time. She organizes her children's leisure time very well and has rules about how they interact with their friends. Her youngest child was recently diagnosedworrydisorder and Carol is considering treatment options.

Carol's husband has expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of structure and support he is providing for their children. He has tried to bargain with her so the kids can have free time or make their own age-appropriate decisions, but she refuses to see things from his point of view.

Deep down, Carol worries that one wrong choice could undo all the hard work she's put into making their lives as balanced as possible. As a result, she and her husband had more quarrels.

Every time Carol and her husband argue, she becomes more worried about their relationship. And the more stressed she is, the more attention and support she needs from him to feel close.

Do you recognize yourself in Carol's story? If you do, you may feel insecureattachment stylethis is called restless attachment.

Understanding attachment anxiety

Anxious attachment style (pattern of interaction in relationships) is an insecure attachment characterized by a lack of trust. When you feel stressed in a relationship, you find it difficult to relax and unwind in a relationship.

The insecurities you feel because of an anxious attachment can drive you to seek control in order to manage your anxiety. Unfortunately, trying to control everything can have a negative impact on your relationships.

It's not your fault you have an anxious attachment style. Nor is it right to blame the parents for this – parents have no idea that they are shaping their own insecure attachment styles in their children.

Because secure attachment is a healthy goal

Secure attachment is characterized by relational harmony, which includes meeting the needs of the other person. This leads to the development of trust.

Trust makes you able to be vulnerable and share your thoughts and feelings. Without trust, vulnerability appears dangerous and is therefore often avoided.

When both people in a relationship accept, appreciate, and support each other, it's easier to be vulnerable to each other. A secure attachment is created here.

A secure attachment relationship is a refuge from the world – a safe place. It is a space where you can go at any time, looking for comfort, closeness and solving problems.

Towards secure attachment

It's important to recognize that it's yoursattachment styleit is merely a reflection of learned patterns of behavior. The good news is that you can relearn and find new ways to connect. Here to start:

Step 1: Raise your awareness

Moving towards safer relationships starts with being more aware of your role models. Taking the time to keep a journal or create a chart where you can record your daily interactions with your significant other is a great first step. This will help you see your patterns more clearly.

Think about what behaviors trigger positive and negative emotions in your relationships. As you become more aware of your behavior patterns, it will also help you growcareat the time of interaction.

Step 2: Use stress management strategies

The next step involves learning strategies that can help you manage your stress now. Good strategies are breathing, movement or grounding techniques.

Breathing boxis a technique you might want to try. Begin by inhaling for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, then hold your breath for a count of four.

If you prefer to remove the stressful energy from your body through movement, try doing some yoga poses or going for a walk outside.

And finally, grounding techniques involve the use of the five senses. It's a big interventionThe 5-4-3-2-1 method. Name five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can feel, and one thing you can taste.

Step 3: Change the way you think about control

Relationships automatically become healthier when you are able to let go of the need to feel in control all the time. Remember that you can only control yourself - you have no control over others.

What about you?Hookscheck, think more about solving problems, creating a plan and implementing it. Considering what youI can'tcontrol: you must learn to accept it. Once you accept that you can't control everything, you can focus on taking care of yourselffeelingsusing strategies such as those described in step two above.

Step 4: Develop healthy relationship building skills

Finding a calm balance in your relationship can increase your ability to use compromise and negotiation as a relationship skill. Allowing the development of trust and coordinating work with the other person can strengthen this relationship.

When you feel relationship anxiety, try to think about the strengths of the relationship, such as what your partner has told you they like about you or the relationship. You can use them to create positive affirmations and mantras like "This relationship is a safe place" or "I'm fine."

Work on making these types of statements when you're not feeling anxious and when you're confident about the relationship. Writing it down and reading it silently or aloud in these difficult times can be very helpful.

You deserve happiness in your relationships

Remember that relationships are a living thing that you must invest in to stay healthy. Think about what you are investing in the relationship. This is what you can influence and what you can change.

Now consider what your partner is investing in. Use these thoughts to build trust in your relationship, remembering that it is a two-way street. You both invest in it because you both see value in the relationship.

Finding trust and security in your relationships will continue to serve you well on your path to securing an attachment. It's never too late to make healthy relationship decisions!


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about the author

Christina Reese, doktor, LCPC, has been working with traumatized children for over 15 years. She works with passion for children and their families. She has worked with children in schools, forensic addiction treatment centers, treatment centers and the local community. Her book, Attachment: 60 Lifetime Trauma-Based Therapeutic Assessments and Interventions, offers trauma-based strategies to facilitate attachment, restore trust, and restore positive emotions. He is a licensed clinical career counselor in Maryland and Pennsylvania as well as a licensed clinical supervisor. She earned a master's degree in social counseling from McDaniel College and a doctorate in counseling education from George Washington University.


How to overcome an anxious attachment style? ›

People with the anxious attachment style often internalize what they perceive to be a lack of affection and intimacy as not being “worthy of love,” and they intensely fear rejection as a result. In an attempt to avoid abandonment, an anxious attacher may become clingy, hypervigilant, and jealous in a relationship.

How do you respond to anxious attachment? ›

How can you help a partner with anxious attachment?
  1. give them ongoing assurance that you care about them.
  2. be consistent in giving them attention.
  3. follow through on promises and commitments.
  4. encourage self-awareness and self-reflection to help them overcome their anxious behaviors.
Nov 14, 2019

Why is my anxious attachment ruining my relationship? ›

People with the anxious attachment style often internalize what they perceive to be a lack of affection and intimacy as not being “worthy of love,” and they intensely fear rejection as a result. In an attempt to avoid abandonment, an anxious attacher may become clingy, hypervigilant, and jealous in a relationship.

Are people with anxious attachment manipulative? ›

An adult with an anxious attachment style may become preoccupied with their relationship to the point of coming off as "clingy" or "needy." They often worry that their partner will leave or stop loving them. People with anxious attachment may also become manipulative when they feel that a relationship is threatened.

How I cured my anxious attachment? ›

How can you fix an anxious attachment style?
  1. Recognizing the signs and understanding attachment theory. ...
  2. Practice learning from others with a secure attachment. ...
  3. Build your self-esteem and, in turn, how to express your needs and emotions authentically. ...
  4. Learn to not react by using self-regulation and mindfulness. ...
  5. Therapy.
Dec 6, 2022

How do you deal with someone who needs constant reassurance? ›

How to Respond to Reassurance-Seeking
  1. Learn to Identify Reassurance-Seeking. ...
  2. Ensure They Have the Help They Need. ...
  3. Talk with Them About Ways to Point Out Reassurance-Seeking Behavior. ...
  4. Don't Neglect Your Needs In the Process.
Feb 24, 2023

Do anxious attachment ever break up? ›

The anxious attacher may feel like ending the relationship was unwarranted. Therefore, they may try to figure out ways to get back together with their partner and restore the attachment bond. However, doing so often leads to cycles of making up and breaking up.

Can you heal anxious attachment while in a relationship? ›

But, with consistent communication over time, folks with an anxious attachment style can come to feel secure in their romantic relationships and develop lasting partnerships that are supportive and healing.

What type of people are anxious attachment attracted to? ›

Anxious people may be unconsciously drawn to avoidant partners because they represent a challenge or an opportunity to attain the emotional connection they long for.

Are anxious attachments narcissists? ›

People with attachment anxiety tend to have heightened collective narcissism, study finds. People with higher levels of attachment anxiety are more likely to have higher levels of collective narcissism, according to new scientific research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Do anxious attachments self sabotage? ›

Thus, it is likely that anxiously attached individuals may sputter and stall out in relationships with secure individuals, even setting their own partner preferences aside (Poulsen et al., 2013). Even after individuals with an anxious attachment style are in a relationship, sabotage often continues.

How does anxious attachment style affect romantic relationships? ›

People with anxious attachment styles tend to be insecure about their relationships, fear abandonment, and often seek validation. Those with avoidant styles have a prevailing need to feel loved but are largely emotionally unavailable in their relationships.

Are anxiously attached people selfish? ›

Anxiously attached individuals become very demanding in their relationships because they need control and have specific expectations for what they need in order for to meet their "good relationship" standard. They become very self centered on their own strong needs and not their partner's.

Do anxious attachment fall in love easily? ›

Relationship superpowers of Anxious preoccupied attachment

Anxious partners are likely to give themselves over to relationships entirely. They fall in love easily and tend to hold their partners in high regard. For this reason, they put a lot of effort and dedication into their relationships.


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