Understanding an Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment

Attachment theory is a way of understanding how we form emotional connections with others, especially when we’re young. The idea is that the kind of bond we develop with our primary caregiver can affect how we relate to people and handle our emotions throughout our lives. If we feel secure in that early relationship, it can help us feel more stable and confident in our social interactions. But if we don’t feel secure, it can make things difficult for our future relationships. The theory was developed by John Bowlby in the 1950s, and other researchers have built on his ideas over time and have identified four attachment styles.

  1. Secure
  2. Anxious-preoccupied
  3. Avoidant-dismissive
  4. Disorganized/Fearful-avoidant

Each week this month, I will discuss each attachment style in detail. In this blog, I’ll be focusing on the anxious-preoccupied attachment style.

What is an Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment?

This attachment style is characterized by a deep fear of abandonment and a constant need for reassurance and attention from others. Those who have this attachment style often feel insecure in their relationships and worry that their partners will leave them. This is because they had caregivers who were inconsistently responsive during childhood, sometimes meeting their needs and sometimes not. As a result, they learned to cling to others in order to feel secure but also to fear rejection and abandonment. Anxious-preoccupied individuals often struggle with jealousy and insecurity in relationships and may find it difficult to trust others.

If you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, it’s important to understand that this is not a character flaw or something that you’ve done wrong. This attachment style is often the result of early life experiences, such as inconsistent caregiving or trauma. It can also be influenced by personality traits, such as high sensitivity or emotional intensity.

Tips to help manage an anxious-preoccupied attachment style and improve relationships:

  • Acknowledge your fears and insecurities: Be honest with yourself about your fears and insecurities. Recognize that these feelings are valid and that they are a part of who you are. By acknowledging these feelings, you can begin to work through them and find ways to cope with them.
  • Practice self-compassion: It’s easy to be hard on yourself when you feel anxious or insecure, but it’s important to practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and recognize that everyone has their own struggles. Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion that you would offer to a friend.
  • Communicate with your partner: Communication is key in any relationship, but it’s especially important if you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style. Talk to your partner about your fears and insecurities, and let them know what you need from them to feel secure in the relationship. This can help to build trust and strengthen your bond.
  • Focus on building your own sense of security: While it’s important to have a strong relationship with your partner, it’s also important to build your own sense of security. This means developing a strong sense of self and learning to rely on yourself for validation and comfort. This can be achieved through therapy, self-reflection, and self-care.
  • Seek professional help: If you’re struggling with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to understand your attachment style and develop strategies to manage your anxiety and improve your relationships.

Remember, having an anxious-preoccupied attachment style is not a life sentence. With time, self-reflection, and the right support, it’s possible to develop a more secure attachment style and build strong, healthy relationships.