How we manage our emotions, how we relate to other people, what image we have of ourselves... all of this is influenced by the style of attachment we have. A few weeks ago we talked about attachment style in relationships, and today we review what anxious attachment is like.
How does anxious attachment develop?
Anxious attachment is characterized by a need for contact in the bond. It is established by childhood experiences with caregivers. In this sense, figures who did express affection but whose actions were not very predictable make the person prioritize bodily sensations. This is different from people with avoidant attachment who prioritize cognitions. This may occur because the caregiver does not have the resources to care, is unable to invest in parenting, or is preoccupied. The person with anxious attachment will alternate emotions of anger and submission, in a constant ambivalence that marks the relationship.
Constant need for contact and support from others
Social contact is a good regulation strategy but the problem arises when this strategy is activated compulsively and is the only one available. In this way, the person can only feel better or alleviate discomfort through relationships, close or not.
Anxious attachment in adult life
A high priority is given to emotions that serve as a guide. There was a time in the past when it was difficult for them to predict what was going to happen and emotions worked well as a map. It is this strategy that the brain learns and kicks in, as the adult will have the perception that they are unable to be in control. This causes people with anxious attachment to be either extremely trusting or very distrustful, and the problems that come with that.
Their relationships are marked by a great need for approval, having a negative image of themselves but a positive image of others. This makes them constantly afraid of abandonment, as they feel they cannot make themselves loved.
Does anxious attachment affect my relationship?
People with anxious attachment live very intense relationships, where there are many emotions that feel uncontrollable. In addition, they rarely feel calm, and they feel calm only when they come into contact with the other person. There does not necessarily have to be controlling behaviors (although they can occur). However, the person may need a lot of company and a lot of physical contact in order to feel better. Similarly, the person with anxious attachment may have difficulty tolerating uncertainty and try to compensate through relationships. Sometimes they may chain one relationship after another, with no recovery time or with very short states of singleness.
It is also common that negative thoughts are activated when the needed contact does not appear. For example, if the person requires physical contact or to be close to the partner and the latter does not agree for whatever reason, thoughts such as: "he is going to abandon me", "the same thing always happens to me" or "this means that he does not love me" may appear. A negative interpretation is made of the actions in relation to the person's wounds.
How to fix anxious attachment style in relationships
The attachment style is something that marks us a lot but that can be worked on in therapy. First of all, we have to go through the attachment experiences of the person in order to identify what emotions, thoughts and strategies are put in place. If any of these are problematic, new ways of acting can be developed, healing the wounds of the past and learning other mechanisms.