Dating Survival Tips for the Anxiously Attached


If you have an anxious attachment style you may find dating and relationships more difficult than others do. Because you need more reassurance and intimacy, you may feel unsatisfied with dating dynamics which encourage a large amount of self-sufficiency and independence.

As someone with an anxious attachment style, it seems clear to me that those with an anxious attachment style, more than any other relationship style, could benefit from understanding and acknowledging their unique approach to relationships. The anxiously attached simply can not afford to be unaware or dismissive of their needs in love and relationships. Doing so causes a great deal of heartache which could otherwise be avoided.

As such, I’ve created a few dating and relationship tips for those with an anxious attachment style. They are not rules but guidelines for the anxiously attached person to help create a happier and more secure atmosphere in love.

1. Know what you need from a partner, and express these needs from the beginning

Do you need a partner who will check in with you daily? One who will accept your desire for plenty of physical intimacy outside of the bedroom? Know your needs and express them to potential partners.

When you aren’t sure of what you need or, more commonly, when you fail to express your needs to your significant other, you both lose out. Your partner is unsure of what you need and may not automatically meet your needs. When you act out because your needs are going unmet, this creates tension and frustration in the relationship. Expressing your needs makes the relationship run more smoothly. This strategy also helps you to recognize who is willing and capable of meeting your needs and who isn’t.

2. Do not play the aloof, cool, or distant partner

Popular dating guidelines encourage people to play it cool at the outset of a relationship; never show that you have strong feelings for your partner and try to involve yourself in activities that don’t include them, even if you’d rather not. In other words, don’t be the needy, desperate, or anxious partner.

This approach is incompatible with the anxious relationship style. Anxious partners do become strongly attached to their significant others and want to be close to them. Trying to avoid these very real needs causes stress and worry. Instead, show your feelings in secure ways — let your partner clearly know that you want to be able to rely on them and be close to them. If your partner is put off by this then they likely aren’t the partner for you.

3. Whenever possible, do not involve yourself with an avoidant

anxious-attachment-coupleAnother side-effect of playing the “distance” game is that it has the side-effect of attracting avoidant partners, who think that a relationship with you will allow them to keep the boundaries and independence that they need. This is not an outcome you want, as the avoidant attachment style is contradictory to the anxious relationship style and the anxiously attached tend to suffer more in anxious-avoidant relations.

Nonetheless, as an anxious person, you may find yourself attracted to avoidant partners. The avoidant presents them as self-reliant and reassured, which is attractive to someone with an anxious attachment style who often wishes they could be more self-sufficient. In addition, the mixed signals that an avoidant sends may seem to you like they are opening up to true intimacy, when actuality the avoidant person will never enjoy the amount of closeness you do.

The bottom line is that a relationship with an avoidant tends to be rocky and unsatisfying. Being sensitive to rejection and slights, the anxious partner takes any signs of distance by their partner personally. The reassurance and closeness an anxious partner needs will rarely be given by an avoidant partner who keeps their distance and is uncomfortable sharing their emotions. The anxious partner responds to relationship issues by trying to create more intimacy, which pushes the avoidant even further away. This can happen over and over, in a cycle which leaves both feeling hopelessly misunderstood.

If you must be with an avoidant, it is critical that you recognize your vastly different relationship needs and approach the relationship accordingly.

4. Know that they are many potentially good partners for you

As someone with an anxious relationship style you may become greatly attached to a partner early on. When you find a partner who even mildly suits you, you may think that you’ve found “the one” and will be traumatized if and when your relationship has issues, or if your relationship dissolves.

One way to avoid this “soul mate” mindset and the pain it causes is to remember that there are several people who can meet your relationship needs. There isn’t just one right partner for you, but many. So even if one relationship does not work out, you can be secure in knowing that another great partner is out there, waiting to be found.

5. Emphasize the secure

Just because you have an anxious relationship style doesn’t mean you have to live with constant anxiety about your relationships. By emphasizing secure relationship strategies like some of those above, you can lessen your worry.

Above all, greater security is a result of communicating your needs and being responsive to your partners needs. When you can do this effectively, you’ll find yourself less troubled and your relationships more happy and gratifying.

Do you have an anxious style? Do you have any other tips for the person with an anxious attachment style?

See also:

11 thoughts on “Dating Survival Tips for the Anxiously Attached

  1. I believe that “Love” starts within… have to love yourself first. Love is inside-out NOT outside-in…I had to learn that the hard way. No one is going to love you more that you love yourself and if you don’t love yourself then no one will love you for who you are because they don’t know you……

    Ultimately, love starts within

    Peace & Blessings

  2. Mkhululi,

    That’s true. I wouldn’t say though, that anxious people don’t love themselves, they’re just a little more concerned about the significant others in their lives than most people are. This can seem to people with other attachment styles like they love others more than themselves, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case.

  3. You were wrong about me being the first person to comment. here. The truth is, i don’t know what to say. It’s just too close to home, so to speak. And I don’t have any advice for fellow anxious type of attachment people.

    The only I can say is- find someone who wants you the way you are. See #2 here. Other people can pretend to be cold and not destroy themselves in the process. But not us.

  4. Mira,

    That’s good yet simple advice. It seems somewhat common among anxious types to try to fit themselves to what their partner wants (or their partner tries to change their anxious ways). And they fool themselves into thinking that they can be happy this way… So choosing someone who is okay with you are is really important.

  5. Hi Rosemary,

    People with an anxious attachment style can be seen as clingy by those with less intense desire for closeness (e.g. avoidants). But a “clingy” person doesn’t necessarily have to have an anxious relationship style.

  6. @ Alee,

    I never said that anxious people don’t love themselves, I was just merely stating that loving thy self is vital for any relationship style. Anxiously Attached people need to find someone who can understand them and love them for who they are….

  7. Being anxious really sucks. After dating a couple years, I’ve been able to realize most of the worry and anxiety is coming from ME and not the other person. It’s still really hard to let go of relationships and partners though that don’t meet my needs, and even harder to communicate my desires especially in casual dating which seems to be all about taking care of yourself.
    I have very alternative views of relationships so I’m not seeking ‘the one’ or my ‘twin flame’ and even would prefer a more casual yet intimate relationship. Yet, knowing that I don’t have space in my life for ‘the one’ right now still doesn’t prevent this attachment style from driving me to anxiety and unnecessary constant suffering when a partner turns out to be less intimate than I want. The hardest thing for me is reconciling these two seemingly divergent needs: both the intense need for intimacy from my attachment style and the need for me to be less attached right now and focused on my own life and career. These two things do not go together very well and it’s frustrating.
    Also I’m curious about how attachment styles influence casual sex. I can have it once or twice with someone but past that it’s basically a relationship I can potentially experience all of this ridiculous suffering from. I’m so tired of it!

  8. Thank you for this article and your other articles as they have been very helpful for me. The part about not playing the cool partner was especially helpful.

  9. Hello Fellow Travelers,

    Here is my opinion at this point in my life 🙂

    Both anxious and avoidants are insecure and both need to become aware of their insecurity and then work on healing themselves from from past wounds and become secure so they can have a secure loving relationship. Like Mkhululi said, you have to love and respect yourself so you know that you deserve someone that loves and cares for you and that you will not allow someone to treat you bad or withhold affection. Being secure also allows you to communicate your feelings in a mature and respectful way without resorting to manipulation or being passive aggressive.

    I have read it over and over and over and over and had counselors tell me and people from forums tell me to work on myself and then you will naturally not be hyper sensitive, frustrated, angry and confused about relationships and blaming the other person. It has taken me years to finally get it. Once you really love and respect yourself you will not feel like a victim, you will not give your power away, you will become assertive, loving and also learn to compromise. You will love yourself which will allow you to love others.

    If you come from dysfunctional childhood then overcoming low self esteem, self doubt, abandonment issues can take a long time but the reward is you get to actually live life and see it as a beautiful thing like when you were a kid and life will again seemed so bright, magical and beautiful. Stop living in fear, guilt and shame, this only brings about depression, anger, resentment and sadness, replace it with love, appreciation and empathy for yourself and others.

    I wish you all the best on your journey and tell yourself this from time to time:

    “I am a good person, I deserve to be happy, I deserve someone that loves and cares for me”

    Read uplifting affirmations, that is really the only way I know to change the way you think about yourself and others.

    Choose to be Happy………………Right Now!, not tomorrow, not next week, not when you get a raise or better job, not when you get that big house, not when you get that amazing relationship, not when you are financially secure, not when you get your perfect weight, don’t wait, live and be happy now, you deserve it!!!

    “Long Term Happiness/Success = Appreciation + Realistic Expectations + Self-Discipline/Control + Assertiveness” -John Daniels

    Don’t let random chance control your destiny, go out and get what you want!
    -John Daniels

    We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. ~Frederick Keonig

    Love and peace to you all

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