Part one of our three-part love and relationships series on understanding the connections between early childhood care and romantic relationships.
To begin our three-part series on attachment styles theories, I’d like to discuss the anxious/insecure attachment.
I am fortunate to have been trained by Katherine Woodward Thomas, licenced marriage and family therapist and New York Times best-selling author of Calling in The One who has some excellent definitions. Some of which I’ve quoted with the permission of the author.
Let’s start by talking about how you would recognise the anxious/insecure attachment, here are some of the key signs:
- You fear being abandoned and/or rejected, which becomes a driving force in the dynamic of the relationship and often causes you to self-abandon (forget or ignore your own feelings and needs). Particularly in relationships where you feel emotionally dependent upon another.
- You anticipate being disappointed and/or abandoned when you are in need, and so your needs for closeness and connection make you anxious.
- You often feel clingy and “needy” in intimate relationships and find yourself covertly pulling on others for reassurance and proof that you are loved and valued, in spite of being an intelligent and successful person in most areas of your life.
- You may feel insecure about how others feel about you, assuming that others don’t really like you, care about you, value you and/or value what you have to offer.
- You have trouble setting appropriate boundaries.
In a relationship, this might manifest as choosing a partner with an underlying wish for them to look after you. You might be controlling through your anxiety and always need to know where they are and what they’re doing. You may have trouble trusting your partner and even drive them away through anxious jealousy or possessiveness.
You may be over-giving in the hope that you will be loved and seen for who you are if you are looking after them. You’re likely to give what you most want to receive, trying to fill the gap by seeing your own needs in others and fulfilling them.
Understanding your attachment style can be extremely useful in your relationship. If you and your partner know what is likely to trigger each other into distress, you can accommodate one another and gently challenge each other to grow into a more secure state.
There is a beautiful book by John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman called Eight Dates. It is a roadmap to successful relationships. It lays the foundations for creating trust and commitment, managing conflict and enjoying life together.
Counselling and psychotherapy can help, or you might try some of the new highly-effective forms of transformational coaching. The latter tend to be future-focused, taking into account your early life but not dwelling there. You will be encouraged to really look at the sort of relationship you want in your life and how you can empower yourself to achieve it.
When you begin to see beyond the attachment style pattern, you will start to pay more attention to your own feelings and needs and be able to centre yourself in a more adult, confident, self-respecting part of yourself. This doesn’t mean you will not want to be in a relationship. We are wired that way.
However, it does mean that if you’re single, you will choose a partner from a more grown-up place in yourself. You are then likely to choose people who are in a more secure attachment style.
If you’ve found this useful and perhaps even recognise some of these behaviours and would like more guidance, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
I’d also like to invite you to join our Calling in The One Facebook Group, where you will find other useful discussion points:
Next week I will be discussing the avoidant attachment style.