Symptoms of having an anxious attachment style as an adult
How to recognize a person with an anxious attachment style? Adults with an anxious/preoccupied attachment style might think highly of others but often suffer from low self-esteem.
These individuals are sensitive and attuned to their partners’ needs, but are often insecure and anxious about their own worth in a relationship.
If the loved one rejects them or fails to respond to their needs, they might blame themselves or label themselves as not being worthy of love.
Generally, adults with anxious attachment need constant reassurance that they are loved, worthy, and good enough.
The strong fear of abandonment might often cause anxious adults to be intensely jealous or suspicious of their partners.
This fear might also lead them to become desperate, clingy, and preoccupied with their relationships. Adults with an anxious attachment style are often afraid of or even incapable of being alone.
They seek intimacy and closeness and are highly emotional and dependent on others. The presence of the loved one appears to be a remedy for their strong emotional needs.
Anxious attachment style in relationships
Having an insecure attachment style can be tiring. It could feel like you are on an emotional roller-coaster all the time.
It might cause anxiety, stress, unhappiness, and low life satisfaction. When it comes to adults with anxious attachment styles, relationships might be both ‘life-saving’ and ‘life-threatening’.
On the one hand, the fear of being alone or being rejected is the poison – a disturbing feeling, which leads to constant doubt and worry. On the other hand, the presence of the loved one, and more importantly, their demonstration of affection is the remedy.
Furthermore, an anxious individual might be insecure about where they stand in a relationship and whether their partner loves them as much as they do in return. Consequently, the slightest disappointment or sign of rejection from the partner could be harmful to the already low self-esteem.
Can you change your attachment style and how?
Luckily, attachment styles can change. Sometimes, the change can happen by itself: a relationship with a securely attached individual could facilitate emotional closeness and a sense of calmness and stability.
This new experience can lead to a shift in perception and to new habits and patterns. Other times, you might need to work harder on your attachment style. You cannot change your past, but you can change the present.
One key to healing an insecure attachment style is to make sense of the way you interact with your loved ones, especially with your partner. Recognizing your behavioral patterns in relationships and being mindful of them will make the issue easier to solve. Self-reflection is important. Analyzing and making sense of your childhood experiences is also an essential step.
Realizing that past experiences do not have to affect and/or predict the present and the future will make it easier to break free from established behavioral patterns and habits.
Obviously, working with a therapist on this pattern would potentially be the most beneficial way to move forward with earning secure attachment. We are offering attachment repair groups and online courses for you to move forward.
Either way, if you want to change your attachment style, you need to put effort in it. Whether you are working through it with a close friend, a therapist, or a book, consistency and effort are fundamental.
If you prefer to go the route of a workbook, we recently released our first series of attachment style digital workbooks.
Our anxious attachment style digital workbook includes:
- 204 pages and 28 practical exercises
- How anxious attachment affects you in over 10 different areas of life
- 8 case studies on anxious attachment
- Groundbreaking and up-to-date research on anxious attachment
- Section recaps and areas for reflection
Empower your Instagram feed
If you liked this post and want to learn more about attachment theory, then we recommend following The Attachment Project on Instagram. We aim to help you make sense of your attachment style in various contexts of your life.
Ainsworth, MD, Bell, SM.(1970). Attachment, exploration, and separation: Illustrated by the behavior of one-year-olds in a strange situation. Child Development, 41(1), 49-67.
Bowlby J. (1958). The nature of the child’s tie to his mother. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39, 350-371.
Anxious ambivalent attachment typically develops in children whose caregiver may have acted nurturing and responsive one minute and unavailable or insensitive the next.
Understanding how to self regulate our emotions and actions is an essential skill to develop. If you are working towards “earned secure attachment”, think of this as a milestone on that path.
Practicing positive psychology can help you to build upon your strengths, increase your self-esteem, and improve your relationships.