Anxious attachment style is also referred to as preoccupied attachment.
This style of relating to others develops in childhood when caregivers are inconsistently responsive to the needs of the child. Sometimes they responded, sometimes they didn’t.
And the child never knew which it would be.
Some children learn at a young age that they cannot trust the environment or people around them. So they grow into adults who perceive the world negatively and find it difficult to trust others. Interestingly enough, anxious attachment can also develop when parents are overly involved in their children’s lives.
Helicopter parents who overprotect, parents who live vicariously through their children, and parents who use their children to meet their own unfulfilled relational needs can also create anxious attachment in their offspring.
These children are able to sense that it’s not their needs that are being met but their parents’ needs. This creates the same anxiety as the parents who responded inconsistently to their children.
The anxious attachment of childhood becomes an anxious way of processing adult romantic relationships. The early trust and abandonment issues are ideas we carry forward as we relate to new people.
Left unaddressed and unhealed, our relationships are sure to suffer.
Table of Contents
Signs of Anxious Attachment Style
Anxious attachment style can be easy to spot within relationships. It manifests in a particular way of relating to others. Do these characteristics sound familiar?
People With an Anxious Attachment Style Have Low Self-Worth
Although anxiously attached individuals think well of others, they often have low self-worth. In fact, any disharmony in a relationship could result in the feeling that they are not worthy of love.
They are often very loving partners but rarely feel loved enough in return.
Crave Constant Reassurance
The anxiously attached also need constant reassurance within relationships.
Because they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, they don’t ever completely relax and trust that the relationship is secure. They may seem both needy and fearful of the relationship ending.
Incapable of Being Alone
Someone with this attachment style may be preoccupied with relationships and seem incapable of being alone.
This hyper-focus on romantic attachments could have the anxiously attached person going from one relationship to the next with little time to no time in between.
Jealous and Paranoid Tendencies
Unfortunately, abandonment issues and distrust of the world around them can lead to jealous and paranoid behavior within relationships. These partners can be so fearful of losing the love they’ve found that they drive it away with their jealousy and fear.
Clingy Relationship Style
These partners can also be clingy within relationships, smothering their loved ones with affection and attention.
Space within the relationship could cause them anxiety and make them feel as if the relationship is at risk. Anxiously attached partners may show signs of codependent behaviors.
Partners with an anxious attachment style can be hypervigilant to nuances within the relationship. They can perceive the slightest hint of rejection or inattention as the end of the relationship.
They also tend to be hyperaware of their partner’s needs and try to make themselves indispensable to demonstrate their worthiness in the relationship.
An anxiously attached partner can feel unappreciated or under-appreciated within relationships. Their need for more love and more belonging can create a sense of imbalance.
Because they do whatever it takes to maintain the relationship all the while feeling as if the other person isn’t trying quite as hard to do the same.
The trouble with the anxious attachment style is that the individual never truly stops worrying about the relationship. Even a state of infatuation or love can trigger the fear of abandonment. Because they constantly worry, they often overanalyze relationships, sometimes self-sabotaging them in the process.