The Dance of The Anxious and The Securely Attached

The honeymoon phase for the anxiously attached is wonderful, as they finally find someone to partner with. Deep down they feel that the world is not a safe place, so it is safer with someone than alone. The honeymoon phase is a time of intense coming together and assessing the right distance for you both.

For the anxiously attached the distance they need is often much less than the securely attached. So even a securely attached partner will feel too distant for them. They need what might feel like constant reassurance that the secure partner is committed to them.

The anxiously attached has grown up with inconsistent messages from their primary caregiver (usually the mother). Sometimes they are in tune and present and other times completely absent. The child’s response is to cling on to the only source of food, affection and love that they are connected to.

Being in relationship with an anxiously attached person can feel suffocating. Small things might trigger them. Like not retuning a call until after work, which is interpreted as not being committed.

After a while this all becomes a bit annoying for the secure style. They might feel like nothing they do is enough to make her feel secure in the relationship. He does his best, and then, boom, she is triggered and threatens to break up with him.

She does this as a way to protect herself. She thinks:

“If he is ‘not that into me’ then it is better for my own mental health to be without him. He can’t give me what I need. I think he is avoidant.”

Subconsciously, she is throwing a grenade into the relationship to get a response. She wants him to move towards her. For the partner this is extremely confusing. He might be thinking:

“I have been consistent, faithful, expressed my love for her, but it is still not enough, she doesn’t trust me. Then when I don’t see her for a week, she wants to break up with me. Maybe this is just too hard.”

Remember this is a relationship pattern which CAN be changed. If you are the anxious style take a look at my post on tools for the anxiously attached and creating secure attachment posts.

Anxiously attached partners often have BIG hearts, are very caring, loving and sensitive. With care and attention, they can make great partners.

*Attachment theory by John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth & Main & Solomon