How do I support my Partner with Anxious Attachment Style?

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Written By:

Clinical Psychologist - RIMS - M.Phil

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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What is an Anxious Attachment Style? 

Anxious attachment is a type of insecure attachment that is usually formed in childhood but goes on to affect adult romantic relationships. A person develops an anxious attachment style if their primary caregivers were inconsistent with meeting their emotional and physical needs.

Such people often require excessive reassurance and validation from their partners in their relationships. They are easily triggered and are plagued by negative thoughts that keep them in a state of anxiety. People with an anxious attachment style have deep abandonment issues as well and might exhibit clingy behaviour out of fear of losing their partner. 

Causes of Anxious Attachment Style

Anxious attachment style is formed during the formative years of the child mainly due to an inconsistent and irregular parenting pattern. For example, when parents are inconsistent in fulfilling the child’s needs, then the child is likely to develop an anxious attachment style. Oftentimes such parents offer excess love, care and affection to their child on some occasions and on other occasions they neglect their child completely.

These two extremes create a lot of confusion in the child and they become anxious because they don’t know if their basic needs will be met or not. Out of anxiety, such children “cry more” as a signal of being needy and clingy to show to their parents that they need love, care and affection. 

Signs of Anxious Attachment Style

As adults, anxious attachment style manifests itself in the following signs and symptoms - 

  • Need for constant Reassurance from their partner 
  • Clingy behaviour like wanting to be around their partner always
  • Obsessive thoughts about their partner and relationship 
  • Worrying if everything is alright in the relationship 
  • Random accusations against the partner of cheating 
  • Low self-concept like low self-esteem and confidence
  • Fluctuating mood swings - mostly on the negative side like sadness 
  • Always craving intimacy in relationships 
  • Being codependent on their partner 
  • Difficulty in trusting others

Managing Anxious Attachment tendencies

Have you noticed that your partner exhibits the above behaviours? Have they explicitly mentioned to you that they have an anxious attachment style? Perhaps you want to do something on your part to make it easier for your partner in the relationship. Here are some suggestions to help your partner out, 

Empathetic Listening and Communication

Irrespective of your partner’s attachment style you must practise empathetic listening. When you are listening to your partner vent or share something you must see the situation from their perspective and not from your own perspective.

Sometimes it is good enough to just offer a good hearing instead of always offering advice. This way you will be able to understand accurately what and how they are feeling which will allow you to respond accordingly.

Trust through Consistency

Anxiously attached people often find it difficult to fully trust their partners. They are always ambivalent about something going wrong in the relationship. The best way to help your partner through this is to build trust with them. This can be done by creating a secure environment where you are consistent in your words and actions.

When your partner sees you showing up and responding, they are going to rely on you more and this will build trust. Eventually, they will not be apprehensive about trusting you and will become a little less anxious. 

Give them Reassurance and Validation

As mentioned in the beginning, people who have an anxious attachment style require constant reassurance and validation. Why is this the case? It’s because during their formative years, the normal reassurance needed for a child was provided to them in an inconsistent way.

As a result, becoming anxious about the worst possible outcome and requiring reassurance becomes a default trait. To support your partner you must provide them with timely reassurance. You can express your gratitude to them, compliment them and clear the questions and doubts that are making them anxious. 

Use Love Language

The best way to support your partner and build a healthy loving relationship is by using love language. Everyone has a different love language. For some, it is words of affirmation, for others it is physical touch. Whatever your love language is, be sure to express your love and affection using it. You can even go a step beyond and express love in your partner’s love language. If they like receiving gifts, you can offer small presents that light up their day. This also makes them feel that they are loved and reduces their anxiety to a great extent. 

Encourage Individuality

Most anxiously attached people depict clingy behaviour in their relationships. They might want to spend every waking minute with their partner because they fear that they will lose them. This can be harmful to them and the well-being of the relationship. If you encourage them to engage in activities that they are supposed to do alone or with other people, they will be able to build a sense of individuality.

Individuality is very important in a relationship because it reduces dependence on the partner and allows for self-comfort to emerge. You can support your partner in the best possible way by encouraging them to build a strong sense of self. 

Having a partner with an anxious attachment style can be challenging and confusing at times. But if you dedicate time and effort to understanding the root cause behind such behaviour and help them by understanding them, you are on the right path to building a healthy and happy relationship.

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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