Up until three years ago I had never heard of attachment styles and anxious attachment. I just thought I was always anxious despite the constant worry that my partner or even my friends would leave me. My past relationships were always peppered with me asking constant questions if they still loved me and worrying that if my partner wanted space that was a sign they were angry at me and then wanted to leave me. Sound like you? Then you may also have an anxious attachment style. All this means is you love people in a different way and how you have learned to love to love people. I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds.
When I first discovered I had this I cried for two hours thinking that it meant that nobody would ever want me and nobody would ever want to be in a relationship with a girl like me. I was angry at myself that I hadn’t found this out sooner so I could have potentially saved my last relationship. I did so much research and found it just means that emotionally I connect differently to my partner than someone else might connect to theirs. Even though this was the case, and this was the way my brain worked in relationships, I soon found out this didn’t mean I would be alone forever, and it doesn’t mean you will either.
I am by no means a therapist but from research anxious attachment usually stems from childhood when abandonment has somewhere happened. This can happen in a variety of ways and doesn’t mean that you are a broken person. It just means that in adult life your relationships can come with hurdles. Small ones that you can overcome, but hurdles nonetheless. Signs of anxious attachment usually are
- Worrying your partner is going to leave you
- Not feeling good enough
- Worrying that your partner is going to cheat on you
- Difficulties in expressing exactly what you want and need to your partner –
- Having your thoughts constantly preoccupied with thoughts that they are thinking badly of you
- Checking up on them a lot
- Coming across as clingy
These are just things that I have personally experienced that I know resonate with anxious attachment. It is in no way a sign that you don’t know how to love. It’s a sign that you love in a different way, and that love to somebody will mean so much one day. There are many things that can help with anxious attachment and you're definitely in luck because it’s something that can be easily fixed. One thing that can definitely help is letting your partner know that for you communication is absolutely key, you might need clarity often and your partner who doesn’t have an anxious attachment to let you know how they are feeling so you always know where you are in the relationship, and where you stand, understanding sarcasm can also be difficult because that can then manifest in your head that your partner is being serious with a joke, also asking your partner to make sure that when you both do have space - as that is important in a healthy relationship, that the person without an anxious mind reassures that the person with an anxious mind is still loved. Over time this can level off and if your partner understands your needs then this will all come naturally. I have found that communication is key in anxious attachment relationships.
If you are reading this because it’s your partner with the anxious attachment then one way of making them feel reassured but without addressing the anxiety, which can make them more anxious is to learn your partner's love language. This is how your partner most feels love and how they experience love, for example if your partner’s love language is words of affirmation this usually will mean that they want to hear how you feel about them and hearing I love you means the most to them. If you don’t know your partner's love language suggest you do a quiz together to find this out? This can easily make your partner feel closer to you and then will lessen any anxiety.
Thoughts are just thoughts. This may seem completely obvious but when you're having anxiety about your partner you need to remember that your thoughts have no reflection to your reality. No matter where you are on your journey with your anxious attachment you are valid and your feelings are also valid. Remember to take your time, no relationship is perfect and every relationship is unique. Take a deep breath and I promise you will be okay.