We all approach relationships differently based on what we were taught and also from our past experiences. From infancy to our current walk in life, our experiences with friendships, romances, and every other human connection have guided us in forming and maintaining relationships.
Our attachment style, or how we act within any relationship, is primarily determined in infancy and early childhood. How our caregivers provide affection and security will affect us well into adulthood. Children tend to develop an anxious attachment style if affection and security are inconsistent.
However, even someone that feels insecure about their relationships can learn to cope and even overcome some of the fears that they’ve lived with. Learning how to fix an anxious attachment style can help you in any relationship.
Children who develop an anxious attachment style typically learn that they can’t fully count on their caregiver to provide comfort. They’ll cry out when they need something but don’t know if they’ll be comforted or soothed.
This insecurity carries over into adulthood. People tend to refer to those with an anxious attachment style as “clingy” or “needy.” Usually, those with this attachment style need a lot of reassurance that their partners (or counterpart in any relationship) still like them.
If you think you have an anxious attachment style, you might notice certain behaviors in yourself like:
If these seem familiar to you, you may consider yourself anxiously attached. On a small scale, these aren’t relationship-destroying traits. However, the more pronounced they are and the more of them you display, your relationship is probably significantly strained.
Not only can this put a lot of pressure on your partner, but undue, frequent stress isn’t healthy. Anxiously attached people can become codependent and, at worst, emotionally abusive.
You may not feel anxious or jealous all of the time in a relationship, but there are certain things that your partner does that cause these feelings. They might be super benevolent, such as not texting back immediately or changing their plans last minute.
Other common triggers for anxiously attached people are:
It’s essential to pinpoint what makes you doubt your relationship so you know where to start changing your thinking.
It is possible to learn how to manage an anxious attachment style. Once you’ve identified your behavior patterns, the next step is adjusting your mindset to create new habits.
Anxiety disorders often require talk therapy and medication for complete management, but you can fight those occasional anxious feelings that pop up. If you find yourself overwhelmed by relationship fears, take a few minutes to ground yourself.
Just because your feelings might feel “irrational” doesn’t mean they’re not valid. Writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal can help you gain some perspective about your thoughts and emotions. It can also help you organize your thoughts if you address them with your partner.
Once you understand your anxious habits, take a moment to breathe before you react. If your partner isn’t home from work precisely on time, give yourself a few extra minutes before you call them. Think about what other logical things could have held them up besides the worst-case scenario. Tell them where you want to eat instead of only going where they want to go.
If you’re unsure where to begin, many types of therapy can help get you on the right track.
If your partner is getting help to turn their insecure attachment style into a secure one, you can help the process and ease their mind.
Everyone is allowed to have expectations of what they will and will not tolerate in a relationship. Tell your partner what they are and what you will do if they violate them.
“I won’t be in a relationship with someone who snoops through my phone without telling me.”
Boundaries like this curtail unhealthy behaviors while establishing trust without needing dire actions.
Similarly, you can help your partner establish healthy boundaries through mutual expectations. Discuss with your partner things like what you both consider cheating and what you deem a reasonable amount of time to respond to a text. Mutual expectations will help them push their limits on old habits and help you both establish new, healthy ones.
Anxiously attached people tend to go above and beyond to keep their partner happy. They do so out of fear of abandonment. Showing gratitude for their efforts can help reduce these fears. Tell them you appreciate what they do, or return the favor—give them a gift or do something for them without asking.
We can’t control everything that happens daily, but we can manage much of it. Not only can a routine help you, but it will also help your partner.
Consistency doesn’t always mean following a schedule; it could be consistent communication, too. Tell your partner whenever you’re going to be home a little late. If you can’t respond for some time (a work meeting ran over, you’re at the gym, etc.), let your partner know what happened and that you will be away from your phone.
We understand that the desire to change how you approach relationships might feel like you’re fixing something broken. But you’re not broken. Change is just self-improvement, and there isn’t a single person who couldn’t benefit from it in some form or another.
Schedule a consultation with Inner Balance Counseling today. Our clinically-trained therapists can help you establish the right behaviors to feel more secure in your relationships. Healthy attachments are possible. Reach out today.
Learn more about attachment styles in Attachment Series Part One and Part Two
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