Anxious attachment is the consequence of having a high level of personal anxiety while you think highly, maybe too highly, of others. As a result of thinking badly about ourselves and highly about others, an anxiously attached person will look to relationship for stability and comfort, because they are unable to self-soothe.
If this is your attachment style, you’ll constantly feel insecure in your relationship, even moments after you’ve been given reassurance that you’re loved and safe.
And this is what gets you in trouble and causes your relationship partners to get tired of trying to make you feel better.
The truth is, they can’t make you feel better. This is your work to do. Even if you found the perfect partner with the perfect words, it’s something inside of you that nags you from the inside.
Your anxiety also shows up when you have to make life decisions like applying for a job, or where to move, whether or not to get a pet, or making a mistake if you make the wrong decision.
If this sounds familiar to you, you probably had a parent who wasn’t emotionally available to you or who criticized you.
In normal development, children are able to seek reassurance from a parent who is nurturing and connected so that when the child has scary feelings, they can look to that parent to know they are okay. This kind of parent also teaches the child that making mistakes is okay.
Think of the last time you saw a toddler fall down then look to the parent to see if they are okay or not. In that moment, the child needs to know that the fall down is overcomable. A nurturing parent says: “You’re okay!” A non-nurturing parent who ignores the fall or criticizes the child for falling doesn’t get the needed modeling that helps them self-soothe in the face of difficult emotions.
As a result, that child ends up an adult who is still looking for that external nurture. And when you don’t find it consistently, self-esteem suffers because the belief that I’m loveable partially comes from my ability to get nurturing from others. When this belief isn’t supported beginning in childhood, the insatiable need for it continues into an adulthood and shows up as an anxious attachment style.
The worst part of this style is that you may find yourself staying in relationships that aren’t healthy or nurturing because you’re afraid of being alone and have such a strong desire to get something from people who look too much like your non-nurturing parent.
You know you want to make change, but you can become paralyzed by fear. So you avoid making decisions, change is hard for you and you stick with what you know, even if you know it’s keeping you unhappy.
If you have an anxious attachment style, this may be why you find yourself in a situation where you’re enduring emotional abuse in your relationship, participating in arguments that are never resolved, finding yourself stalking your partner because you’re so afraid that you can’t trust your partner to love you, feeling the need to control your partner, feeling trapped in a way that causes you to act out against your partner who isn’t meeting your needs, feeling extremely jealous or just being completely stressed out by a relationship that doesn’t seem to be working, but you can’t seem to leave.
You may find yourself unable to say what you need directly because you don’t want to look needy, so your needs don’t ever get met. And your attempts to get what you want from the relationship end up feeling manipulative to your partner, which pushes them further away from you. When your partner tells you the impact of your actions, you think they’re picking on you instead of hearing them out and looking at how what they’re saying might make sense.
In the end, your attachment style makes you seem so needy that your partner pushes you away. The underlying problem is that you believe that it’s your partner’s job to make you feel safe and loved when your underlying belief is that you aren’t good enough to feel safe and loved.
I want to tell you that your desperate need to feel loved and a sense of belonging in relationship depends on your ability to heal your trauma so that your sense of self-worth doesn’t depend on the actions of others.
Secretly, you know this and you don’t feel good about how you act in relationship to try to get closer and to feel love, but you don’t know where to turn to stop feeling so scared.
I want to tell you that you are worthy of feeling secure and loved. Your belief that you aren’t good enough to be really loved by someone is based on what you learned growing up from a parent who didn’t know how to love you in the way you needed them to.
Stop trying to cling to someone who can’t give you what you want. You’ve got to learn to take care of your feelings and comfort yourself.
When you’re ready to work through the traumas that keep you back from a healthy, loving relationship reach out to me. I specialize in helping individuals and couples navigate through and heal the impact of childhood trauma on their relationships.
When you’re ready to work through the traumas that keep you back from a healthy, loving relationship, reach out to me.
I provide online therapy to California residents, and I work with Alma to cover your sessions when you are insured by Optum or Aetna. You can click this link to set up a free consultation with me through Alma.
If you have a PPO insurance policy, I work with a company called Advekit that will bill insurance for you, so you never have to worry about sending out-of-network invoices for reimbursement – all you pay is your co-insurance once your deductible is met!
Interested in a supportive group education/discussion about successfully participating in a relationship with a survivor of childhood trauma?
Or . . .
Wondering how I can help you heal from childhood trauma even if you don’t live in California or cannot afford individual therapy?
Take a look at my calendar and book a 15-minute chat and we’ll talk about options for healing.