If you’ve discovered your relationship attachment style is anxious, you already know how tough dating and relationships can be for you. You expect a lot, give even more, and are easily thrown off by a slight disagreement or change in your partner’s behavior. Unless you’re in a steady relationship you probably find this whole dating thing very difficult indeed.
Part of why people with the anxious attachment style find dating to be difficult is their tunnel vision perspective on potential partners. If you’re the anxious type, once you’ve found someone you think would make a good partner, you become fixated on them and convinced that they’re the only one for you. You don’t so much “date” as you “mate”. But by doing this you put yourself in a critical position when and if the situation doesn’t work out as you hoped.
The book Attached discusses what is called the Plenty of Fish Mentality as a specifically useful way of thinking for those with the anxious attachment style. This principle is not new, but simply the idea that there are plenty of worthy potential partners out there, and you don’t need to focus on just one. Many people already apply the Plenty of Fish Mentality principle in dating, but the thought that you don’t need to be hung up on one person is probably a new one to you if you have an anxious attachment style. In order to apply this method, you have to think and do things quite differently from what you normally would. Here are some tactics I’ve found useful:
1. Understand your needs and eliminate potential partners who don’t meet them
While you shouldn’t create a laundry list of standards for your dates to meet up to, you should make sure you understand what you require in a relationship. If someone does not have these traits, eliminate them as a potential immediately. Remember, there are plenty of other fish who will meet your basic requirements.
2. Date more than one person at a time
This may seem like it has the potential to backfire on you, but if you date more than one person, you’ll lessen the likelihood that you get too attached to just one. It also makes it easier to let go of dates who don’t meet your needs or wants.
3. Approach dating with a practical approach, vetting each potential partner
Instead of seeing what a partner could be like, judge each potential on what they currently are or are not. There’s no need to grade on a curve or ignore possible red flags when there are more people to choose from.
4. Increase the time period of the getting to know each other stage
The longer you wait to get to know the other person, the better you’ll know if they’re the right fit for you.
5. Don’t be too strict with your criteria for a good partner
The longer your list of requirements, the less people who will be able to meet them. Keep your list to basic but important traits your partner must have.
6. Don’t close yourself off to others who may be interested
Even if you think you’ve found a good potential partner, don’t dismiss others who may come along after. Unless you’ve made a solid commitment to one person, be open to new people.
Those are just some general guidelines of the Plenty of Fish mentality, can you think of any others? If you have an anxious attachment style what have you discovered works (or not) for you?