4 Anxious Attachment Methods That Sabotage Intimate Relationships

Your attachment style can considerably affect the way in which that you simply relate to different folks, together with your consolation with emotional intimacy, the way you join (or don’t) and talk (or don’t), with romantic companions.

A key to altering the standard and safety of your romantic relationships is first studying how your attachment system turns into activated and changing into aware of your unconscious attachment strategies (wholesome or not so wholesome) to regain safety in your intimate bond.

Whereas there are various varieties of attachment kinds, Nate Bagley and I centered solely on insecure attachment programs, primarily anxious attachment styles, throughout our interview. You may watch the interview here.


The Adaptability of Attachment Kinds in Shut Relationships

The attachment system is a posh behavioral system that’s interwoven into our physique’s nervous system and mind’s survival mechanisms. Primarily, when our attachment system is activated by one thing in our life in the present day, it organizes what we do, how we really feel, and the way we predict in methods the system (programing) believes will improve our survival.

This programming is developed from our earliest relational experiences and is formed based mostly on what seems best for survival. (Word: Survival doesn’t imply thriving for a few of these variations.)

It’s lots like Google Maps. I take advantage of it to get me to the place I have to go, however I’m clueless to the coding that makes it function in the way in which it does. Our attachment programs adapt by growing a relational map of others and ourselves that it makes use of to find out which path of behaviors, ideas, and emotions would assist us.

Put one other method, after repeatedly residing in a relational context akin to a household, our attachment system tailors our habits to particular relationship companions. As a toddler, we be taught to regulate our habits based mostly on dependable expectations about attainable routes to connection and roadblocks to safety. These expectations are partly acutely aware and intentional however finally change into coded into our attachment programs programming, which is the supply of our distinctive particular person variations and interpersonal approaches for connection and security.

Typically this programming is outdated and might run our current relationships off the road of happy and healthy love.

There may be loads of variability to attachment kinds, however to make issues easy, researchers often classify attachment styles as secure or insecure.

The Safe Attachment Type

Somebody with a safe attachment type is ready to talk in delicate, direct, and sincere methods. They ask for what they want in relationships and handle conflict effectively more often than not. They don’t seem to be good and typically yell or have heated discussions, however they can restore the bond quite shortly.

As youngsters, safe folks skilled a reliable and dependable relationship with their caregiver(s). That they had a felt sense that their mother and father had been accessible, responsive, and would assist get their wants met.

As a result of their mother and father responded nicely to direct communication, these folks developed self-worth, decoding their mother and father’ availability as validation that they had been precious and worthy of connection, consolation, and care.

So when one thing isn’t going nicely in a relationship or they really feel insecure, they express their feelings and needs, or they put up a wholesome boundary.

For instance, in a marriage, a safe partner might go to their partner and say “I’m feeling lonely. I miss us. Can we spend a while this weekend doing x.” An insecure partner may say, “You by no means find time for us. You’re simply egocentric and don’t care.” Similar longing, completely different methods.

In courting, a safe one that begins courting somebody who doesn’t honor their phrase will specific their damage, and if it continues, they are going to transfer on to somebody who’s reliable. An insecure particular person might tolerate the paradox of combined messages in hopes they are going to have a relationship.

Each lengthy for a safe relationship; the safe particular person has extra internalized self-worth on account of previous experiences and, due to this fact, has extra religion they are going to discover somebody who treats them higher. The anxiously insecure particular person usually believes that is the very best they’ll get, and so they have to make it work. They each desire a loving relationship, the method to creating this love is completely different because of the attachment programs working program (aka internalized beliefs).

attachment style

Insecure Attachment Kinds: The Anxious Method to Being Beloved

Somebody with an anxious attachment type was by no means positive, as a toddler, whether or not their mother and father had been going to be accessible or responsive. It was a toss-up on how they had been going to be responded to in the event that they tried to speak and ask for his or her must be met.

Because it was unclear what saved a caregiver close by, the attachment system tailored to trigger the anxious type to concentrate on others and devalue oneself in hopes to extend survival. Listed below are a number of the methods the attachment system adapts one’s communication styles for somebody who has an anxious type:

  1. Self-neglect
  2. Passive aggressiveness
  3. Makes an attempt to manage one other particular person’s habits or decisions
  4. Guilt-tripping

It is because the attachment programming is satisfied that extra direct expressions of wants or emotions are insufficient and won’t work, so one should adapt to outlive.

From a survival perspective, this makes good sense that somebody might apply these methods, even when it makes it troublesome for the anxiously hooked up particular person and their companion.

Anxious Attachment Type Methods That Block Safe Love

Sadly, these variations are unhealthy and never sustainable in long-term romantic relationships.

Anxious Attachment Type Technique #1: Self-Neglect

Self-neglect is a survival technique to maintain love.

I can recall when my attachment system was hyperactivated; I uncared for key friendships, dropped hobbies that introduced me pleasure, and even canceled essential job interviews on the off likelihood I might spend time with my companion. I felt extraordinarily insecure in my relationship. Word: She did have a job as did I in sustaining that insecurity. The large downside was that, if a difficulty got here up that bothered me, I’d decrease my emotions and desires.

The programming goes one thing like this: If I don’t have wants, then I’m not a burden and it’s simpler so that you can stick with me. However as Attachment Therapist Stan Tatkin highlights, individuals who fake they don’t have wants are sometimes the neediest of all.

The issue is once we neglect our personal wants and fake that we don’t have any, we change into a volcano stuffed with lava of resentment and emotions of not being cared for. So we go about our day conserving the lava dormant—telling our companion that we don’t want something, that every thing’s high quality.

Then on a random day when one thing small occurs and so they neglect to placed on a brand new roll of bathroom paper, we erupt at our companion for by no means being there for us or caring for us. Our companion, shocked and confused on how a bathroom paper roll might do that, then blames you for being “emotional” or “dramatic.” Sound acquainted?

This communication type is deeply rooted in previous attachment experiences.

The outdated programming: Since closeness and healthy dependence on one other particular person was unpredictable, the attachment system didn’t really feel secure to concentrate on autonomy and self-exploration. Because of this anxiously hooked up folks are typically very relational-focused and infrequently really feel they lose themselves or conceal of their intimate relationship.

To indicate our wants and emotions is susceptible and intensely intimate, which might really feel dangerous once we worry that the folks we love don’t love us as a lot and can go away us for selecting our nostril.

This usually results in clinginess and neglecting personal hobbies or different essential relationships, with the fantasy of accelerating the potential for the connection being profitable. Paradoxically, the alternative is commonly true.

The safe antidote: Decelerate and join together with your fears. Then specific them utilizing I statements and your longing or want. Give your companion house to point out up and select you. Then breathe in that new expertise of connection and love. It is a strategy to heal that attachment damage. Rinse and repeat.

attachment styleAnxious Attachment Type Technique #2: Passive Aggressive

Individuals with an anxious attachment type are typically passive aggressive. They don’t seem to be very direct with what they want or need. It is because, to them, this can be a enormous threat. Someplace in our life experiences we discovered the lesson that being direct about your emotions or wants doesn’t work. The truth is, it’s painful.

The story my attachment system operates on is: If I’m direct with what I would like, there’s a risk that my companion will reject me and select to neglect that want.

With a purpose to stop this unsure response, the anxious attachment technique convinces me to be passive aggressive and put the onus on my companion to attempt to guess what I want. (P.S. This doesn’t finish nicely as a result of none of us are mind-readers.)


Terri: (feeling insecure) I do know you assume that Kate Middleton is fairly. (That is additionally a projection—telling our companion what we know they assume. Once more, not wholesome.)

Deandre: (confused) What?

Terri: I do know that you simply like skinny blondes; I do know you assume they’re engaging.

Deandre: (nonetheless confused) I imply, yeah, I assume so.

Terri: Yeah, figures … (passive aggressive)

Deandre: What’s improper? Why did you ask that?

Terri: (disgusted tone) It’s nothing. (passive aggressive after which goes silent)

Terri was being passive aggressive as a result of she was feeling insecure and wanted reassurance that Deandre was drawn to her. Nevertheless, she didn’t specific that to Deandre, who was confused by the dialog and didn’t know why Terri had introduced this up. He’s in the dead of night whereas she feels she is being “apparent” about what’s improper.

Safe Antidote: Share insecurity in a susceptible method. “I’m having that fearful thought once more that you simply won’t discover me engaging. Are you able to assist me with that worry?”

Word: Somebody who’s insecure when attempting this is able to probably reply to their companion’s reassurance with “You don’t really imply that. You solely mentioned it as a result of I requested.” Despite the fact that their companion is doing EXACTLY what they need and wish, they (unconsciously) block it as a result of they worry their companion doesn’t really love them.

When working with {couples}, I’ve the couple decelerate and have the companion sharing maintain the opposite companion’s palms and look into their eyes. They are saying one thing loving. The companion tries to breathe it in. We do that once more thrice.

Anxious Attachment Type Technique #3: Controlling

The anxiousness that folks with anxious attachments expertise could cause them to change into smothering, overwhelming, and controlling as a technique to really feel safer.

“The place’s your telephone?” “The place had been you?” “Who’re you speaking to?” “The place are you going?” “Who’re you spending time with?” “You’re not allowed to do …”

All of those questions are requested and demanded with the intention to assuage the anxiousness that the particular person is feeling—anxiousness that’s rooted in insecurity attributable to past painful relational experiences.

Let’s take a look at an instance of this:

Brook and Casey have been in a relationship for six months. Throughout her final relationship, Brook was cheated on. Since then, she has been hyperaware and hypersensitive to this taking place to her once more. Dr. John Gottman talks about how emotional and/or sexual affairs cause PTSD for the betrayed partner.

Casey: I’m going to go refill the automotive with fuel earlier than we head out for our trip tomorrow.

Brook: (attachment alarm goes off, anxiousness will increase) Would you like me to go together with you?

Casey: No, that’s alright, you retain packing. I’m going to only go to the fuel station throughout city. Shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes.

Brook: (anxiousness nonetheless going robust) Okay …

quarter-hour move …

Brook: (texts Casey a number of completely different occasions to ask him the place he’s. The anxiousness will increase, she’s imagining him dishonest on her. She’s calling him, he doesn’t reply, and he or she panics, calling time and again.)

Casey: (solutions after the 4th name) Hey child, what’s improper? Sorry I missed your calls, I used to be—

Brook: (freaking out now) The place had been you? Who’re you with? What’re you doing?

Casey: What? I’m not with anybody. I instructed you I used to be going to get fuel!

Brook: It’s been longer than quarter-hour. What’s taking you so lengthy?

Sadly, these questions go away no house for belief within the relationship as a result of they begin with accusations. Sadly, Casey had really stopped by an area fruit stand to seize peaches, Brook’s favourite. Casey isn’t an ideal companion, however he’s a trustworthy one that hasn’t violated any emotional or sexual boundaries of the connection.

When the insecurity hijacks us, it doesn’t permit our companion a complete lot of house to assist us. Our companion usually will get blamed and feels vilified. (Word: That is completely different than staying with a companion who has cheated in a roundabout way and never repaired for that relational rupture. See my article on trust.)

Due to Brook’s worry of betrayal and abandonment, she turns into controlling and overbearing as an try to make sure that she gained’t get cheated on once more. Nevertheless, doing this makes her companion really feel like he’s backed right into a nook and isn’t capable of do something to assist her belief him. Typically a companion like Casey will get burnout attempting to show their loyalty and so they go away the connection.

Safe Antidote: Acknowledge the set off and, in case your companion is reliable and dependable, ask them for assist. Private instance, “My uncooked spot is being cheated on thrice in three consecutive relationships and what helps me not contact that painful spot is when it’s clear to me what you’re as much as, reminders that you simply love me, and in case you can, be responsive if I textual content or name.” “I may even work on supplying you with the advantage of the doubt and soothe myself if my PTSD will get activated so after I attain out, it’s softer.”

That is really what I’ve mentioned to my partner. I’m not denying my insecurities. I’m proudly owning them and being susceptible in a method my companion can join with and assist me with, thus resulting in therapeutic for me and belief for our relationship.

attachment style

Anxious Attachment Type Technique #4: Guilt-Tripping

Guilt-tripping reveals up in quite a lot of approaches. The primary is guilting a companion into doing one thing we wish them to do. The second is “exaggerated expressions of damage to create extra guilt”

The primary method can appear to be this:

Tommy and Blake had simply gotten again from work for the night …

Blake: Hey hon, I’m going to exit with a few associates for some drinks this night.

Tommy: Oh, you’re? (attachment alarm goes off, anxiousness will increase)

Blake: Yeah, it’s been awhile, and we simply all need to get collectively to hang around for a number of hours.

Tommy: So that you’re simply going to depart me right here alone then? I assume I don’t matter that a lot to you. (guilt-tripping begins)

Blake: No, that’s not true in any respect. I really like you and I simply need to see my associates.

Tommy: Effectively, clearly it’s, otherwise you can be staying right here with me as an alternative. (guilt-tripping continues)

Blake: … I imply … I assume I might exit a distinct time with my associates …

Whereas Tommy gained by way of guilt-tripping, and Blake can be staying house with Tommy, it wasn’t the reassurance or connection that Tommy was on the lookout for in the long term. It is because Blake was staying on account of feeling guilt. This blocks Tommy from gaining the reassurance that Blake does love him whereas additionally being able to have associates.

What Tommy is attempting to push for is a felt sense of safety (I matter to you), however sadly, the extra that Tommy pushes this by utilizing guilt, the extra that Tommy is met with the doubt and sense that the love that they’re getting is just not actual. It isn’t voluntary love at this level; it’s compulsory.

“When the opposite particular person hears a requirement from us, they see two choices: to submit or to insurgent.” – Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Within the second method, the exaggeration of damage usually creates sufficient drama to get our companion to cease what they’re doing and look after us, quite than permit them house to appease us genuinely.

The technique is: The extra helpless we act the extra probably we’ll get consideration.

Right here is an instance of this case:

Paul has an anxious attachment type and often makes use of the anxious technique or

exaggerating his feelings with the intention to get his wants met. One evening, Paul notices

that he and his companion Cody hadn’t had intercourse in a number of weeks. Cody had been

working time beyond regulation and had come house exhausted at evening, and he didn’t have the

emotional, psychological, or bodily capability to be intimate with Paul that evening. To not

point out he felt sweaty and never attractive.

Paul makes an attempt to provoke intercourse by kissing Cody in the way in which that alerts Paul desires intercourse

inside a couple of minutes of Cody strolling within the door.

Cody: “I’m exhausted and have to bathe and go to mattress. It’s been an extended day.”

(Walks in direction of bed room.)

Paul: (having observed the dearth of intercourse and emotional closeness between the 2 of them, begins crying)

Cody: (is about to go take a bathe, however then notices that Paul is crying) What’s

improper? Are you okay?

Paul: (determined for his anxiousness to be soothed, begins sobbing) You don’t love me


Cody: (completely confused about what induced this, however feeling unhappy that his companion

feels this manner) Why are you saying that? In fact I really like you.

Paul: (wants closeness with Cody to calm his anxiousness, however is unable to voice this;

begins crying louder) Simply break up with me; you by no means have time for me, work at all times comes first, and I’m left right here deserted.

Cody: (though desperately needing relaxation from work, begins feeling responsible that he

has made his companion really feel this manner. Unable to observe Paul break down, Cody turns

away from the lavatory the place he was going to take a bathe and begins to

consolation Paul by holding him as he’s crying and telling him that he loves him.)

When Paul acknowledged that he and Cody hadn’t been intimate with each other in

a number of weeks, his attachment system alarm bells started to go off. He began

getting anxious that he was shedding his companion and that their emotional connection

and attraction for each other was fading. He wanted reassurance that this wasn’t

the case, and with the intention to get this want met, he wanted emotional closeness and

reference to Cody.

want Z.) and as an alternative used emotional exaggeration to guilt Paul into emotional


Though Cody wanted to deal with himself within the second (i.e., a bathe to assist soothe his sore and sweaty physique), he felt responsible for the troublesome feelings that Paul was going by and expressing (albeit utilizing an anxious technique).

Despite the fact that these methods may fit within the brief time period, within the long-run the companion who’s guilted into doing one thing turns into much less and fewer glad within the relationship. That is very completely different than Paul saying “I miss you and I’m anxious we’re rising distant.” This safe method offers Cody the house to point out up as a result of it’s clear to him what the issue is.

When companions use guilt-tripping on their companions, they do expertise preliminary satisfaction. Nevertheless, analysis validates that the companion who’s guilted turns into deeply unhappy, and the extra that this cycle continues and occurs once more, the extra the non-anxious attachment companion withdraws and doesn’t specific what they want within the relationship to be pleased.

Due to this, the anxious attachment companion’s concern is strengthened that their companion isn’t invested and doesn’t care about them. It’s a vicious cycle.

To be taught extra about what to do about these 4 sabotaging methods, watch the video here.

With heat,

Kyle Benson

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