Anxious Attachment and the “Plenty of Fish” Principle

plenty-of-fish
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?

See also:

 

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14 thoughts on “Anxious Attachment and the “Plenty of Fish” Principle

  1. Ooooh Miss Alee, although I did not consider myself an anxious dating type after reading these tips I think perhaps I have a dose of anxiety. Since I don’t date often, I think I really get my hopes up someone shows interest in me and then get crushed when it does not materialize …

  2. I know what you mean Sherry.

    “I really get my hopes up someone shows interest in me and then get crushed when it does not materialize …”

    I know this story so well, and it hurts & aches in places that you never knew existed in you…..and when this happened – my life has never been the same…

    With that being said, you walk around like a Zombie because you don’t want to re-live that misery again, you scared of being rejected like faulty item once again or re- opening —- still bleeding wounds.

    I agree with this statement

    “1. Understand your needs and eliminate potential partners who don’t meet them”

    I stopped playing the victim, I refuse to be a victim. I walk into a crush(potential partner) now with my eyes wide open, I play the card of not caring, even though inside……I extremely care. I befriend the potential partner, so I can have some closure….

  3. and then….eventually the inevitable happens. He starts talking to me about other girls that he likes and then I play the mediator to enable him to chase after his crush and then finally, somewhere between the lines —- his true colours comes out and then I get over the crush……

  4. and the the circle starts.

    Back to the point of “1. Understand your needs and eliminate potential partners who don’t meet them”

    I don’t go around anymore showing my naive heart, I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve…..One has to dig different layers in order for me to give in

  5. Somewhere and somehow I lost the point I was trying to make.

    “1. Understand your needs and eliminate potential partners who don’t meet them”

    I now have thought about what my needs are and my expectations in a potentional partner and I don’t even compromised on them, if you don’t meet most of them, I don’t even bother nor do I entertain my feelings or my lust…..I talk myself out of my crazy heart and it’s done just like that

  6. These tips are good, but only if you have more people interested in you. For some of us, finding one person who is wiling to give you a chance is a rare thing, so it’s very difficult to apply these tips and not to focus on this one person.

  7. Sherry,

    You might on the border of anxious/secure, or yes, like you said, not having dated in a while can make you fixate on someone you are dating. I know what you mean about getting your hopes up. It seems better to not expect much of anything but that’s easier said than done, of course.

    mkhululie,

    You can pretend to not care, but if you actually do care a lot, then it’s not helping you personally! It might even be worse to be that way, because the other person assumes you’re more casual about things than you are.

    Befriending exes can be tricky indeed. If friends, I’d rather be light friends than really close.

  8. Mira,

    That’s the mindset that anxious people have: that only one person or maybe a few if they are lucky, will be interested.

    But it’s not like people go about advertising their interest in other people, and you can usually not get another person interested unless you put yourself out there and talk to them, how would they even know you exist and you’re available? There are billions of men (or women) out there, surely more than one or two will like you.

  9. Well my sistahs, perhaps we needs to just enjoy our crushes because they are fun – like talking about winning the lottery when you buy a ticket. In other areas of my life I am trying to savor where I am today; enjoying practicing my vocal exercises, marking my music, feeling satisfaction when I signed up for my HIT course, noticing how much better I feel when I get on my rowing machine. Perhaps savoring a crush in the present can be satisfying enough until that special thing comes along …

  10. Been there done that. Married 14 years. I honestly don’t think I could survive being out there doing it again. It took me years to figure out what I really needed vs. the fantasy of what I “thought” I needed. It takes a lot of work to make anything be successful and it depends on the individuals. People sometimes have unrealistic expectations about relationships, then when it doesn’t work, they blame the other person. Personally, if I weren’t married, I’d rather be alone with my cats and my kids(if they we’re grown or if I didn’t have any. My volunteer work, run club and other hobbies would be my biggest priorities. Dating and relationships don’t seem worth the hassle to do all over again when you’ve already been in a long-term relationship.

  11. Sherry,

    I guess the trouble is thinking there is someone or something special. It will be hard to practice these principles if you’re still thinking there is one right person for you, instead of many. You’re still getting caught in the trap of singlemindedness.

    madamesiamese,

    “People sometimes have unrealistic expectations about relationships, then when it doesn’t work, they blame the other person.”

    Don’t I know it. Lol.

    “Dating and relationships don’t seem worth the hassle to do all over again when you’ve already been in a long-term relationship.”

    It could be, depending on how much you value relationships…If it’s a priority, it’s always worth it, because otherwise you’d be just content or even miserable without them.

  12. I guess the trouble is thinking there is someone or something special. It will be hard to practice these principles if you’re still thinking there is one right person for you, instead of many. You’re still getting caught in the trap of single-mindedness.

    Okay Miss A, I’ll meet you half way. Perhaps we should not use the word “special”, but “most likely to succeed”!

  13. Sherry,

    ‘Perhaps we should not use the word “special”, but “most likely to succeed”!’

    Lol, that was what I was voted in high school!

    In the end it’s not about the word so much as the mindset. If you’re thinking after a couple of dates “this one’s a winner/most likely to succeed” then it’s still the same.

    Not there is inherently anything wrong with this, but if you tend to do it a lot and feel disappointed when it turns out they’re not what you thought they were, it’s a useful tactic to become more practical about the whole thing.

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