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
Another 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?
- Relationship Attachment: The Attachment Styles in Love
- The Anxious-Avoidant Trap
- Anxious + Avoidant — Making It Work