In the previous article, I brought the attachment style theory again to the table, mixing it with love languages and core human needs as it has the power to explain how we are and why our relationships unfold the way they do.
Today, I will describe how you can transform your relationship with an anxious preoccupied partner using the same principles while shifting errant perspectives about your anxious partner. Because what seems to be a clingy or needy behavior is, in reality, a request to experience safety and love connection.
Before we dive in, I would like to clarify that attachment styles are genderless. You can meet avoidant men or women, anxious men or women. And although human behavior is not the rule of three in mathematics, we can experience a persistent set of patterns of each attachment style with more or less severity.
Anxious preoccupied partners, because of multiple factors they experience a hard time feeling secure in their relationships. A parent with inconsistent parenting behaviors, a bad intimate relationship, divorce, or even bullying experiences at school over the years may contribute to this attachment style development. For this reason, men or women with anxious attachment styles are emotionally attuned with others, tend to be excellent caregivers but disconnect within themselves and their’s own emotions or needs. Long-term, and because of their inability to talk about how they feel and want (afraid of rejection and abandonment), waves of resentment may arise, creating roller coaster relationships.
Love language for Anxious Preoccupied Partners:
Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, and Quality time. Why? Because they need to be sure that they matter and are the priority to their partners. It is inconsistent behaviors and lack of clarity that make these individuals anxious. In a simple scheme, when there is a lack of those love languages in their relationships, past traumatic suppressed events will replay, igniting the fight or flight response.
Clinginess, jealously, mood swings, hypervigilance, worries, and seeking constant reassurance are just a few examples of how they will respond to emotional threats to their intimate relationships.
The principal basic human needs to be fulfilled for anxious preoccupied individuals are Love and Connection, Certainty and Significance.
For this reason, if you are the anxious preoccupied partner, I highly recommend this:
- Give them ongoing assurance that you care and love them.
- Follow through with your promises.
- Give them undivided attention when they need to talk or are in distress.
- Protect and stand by their side when they have a hard time managing their emotions during stressful events.
- Encourage them to be aware of their behaviors and lead them to self-reflection.
- Set up your boundaries, and be sure to leave if the relationship is toxic. But before leaving, explain to them why you can’t continue because even with this action, you are reprogramming their mind giving them a new input. The input that they matter and are worthy of respect.
If you are the anxiously attached individual, follow these steps:
- Work with a therapist or relationship counselor to change your communication style.
- Learn how to speak your truth, communicating your needs and wantings but also meeting them by yourself.
- Be in touch with your emotions, and when you experience anxiety or insecurity, ask yourself why. What was the boundary crossed? Are your fears of being abandoned blinding you? Are you in the right relationship?
- Stay away from dating while moving towards a more secure attachment. Anxiously attached individuals tend to date and have long-term relationships with dismissive avoidants. A dismissive-avoidant partner won’t be a good partner for you unless he or she is doing the work to become more secure. As I explained before, dismissive-avoidant partners tend to push people away and use deactivating strategies to pull away from intimacy and relationships.
Nothing is set in stone, and as adults, we can change our lives and relational dynamics to a better place. Lastly, as human beings, we are emotionally responsible for ourselves but also for our loved ones. Be kind to you, be kind to the ones you love or once were loved by you.
Image source: Personal Development school