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4 Anxious Attachment Methods That Sabotage Intimate Relationships



Your attachment fashion can considerably affect the way in which that you simply relate to different individuals, together with your consolation with emotional intimacy, the way you join (or don’t) and talk (or don’t), with romantic companions.

A key to altering the standard and safety of your romantic relationships is first studying how your attachment system turns into activated and changing into aware of your unconscious attachment methods (wholesome or not so wholesome) to regain safety in your intimate bond.

Whereas there are various kinds of attachment kinds, Nate Bagley and I centered solely on insecure attachment methods, primarily anxious attachment kinds, throughout our interview. You possibly can watch the interview right here.


The Adaptability of Attachment Types in Shut Relationships

The attachment system is a fancy behavioral system that’s interwoven into our physique’s nervous system and mind’s survival mechanisms. Primarily, when our attachment system is activated by one thing in our life right this moment, it organizes what we do, how we really feel, and the way we predict in methods the system (programing) believes will enhance our survival.

This programming is developed from our earliest relational experiences and is formed primarily based on what seems best for survival. (Word: Survival doesn’t imply thriving for a few of these variations.)

It’s quite a bit like Google Maps. I take advantage of it to get me to the place I must go, however I’m clueless to the coding that makes it function in the way in which it does. Our attachment methods adapt by growing a relational map of others and ourselves that it makes use of to find out which path of behaviors, ideas, and emotions would assist us.

Put one other approach, after repeatedly residing in a relational context corresponding to a household, our attachment system tailors our habits to particular relationship companions. As a toddler, we study to regulate our habits primarily based on dependable expectations about potential routes to connection and roadblocks to safety. These expectations are partly acutely aware and intentional however finally develop into coded into our attachment methods programming, which is the supply of our distinctive particular person variations and interpersonal approaches for connection and security.

Typically this programming is outdated and might run our present relationships off the highway of pleased and wholesome love.

There’s numerous variability to attachment kinds, however to make issues easy, researchers typically classify attachment kinds as safe or insecure.

The Safe Attachment Type

Somebody with a safe attachment fashion is ready to talk in gentle, direct, and sincere methods. They ask for what they want in relationships and deal with battle successfully more often than not. They aren’t excellent and generally yell or have heated discussions, however they’re able to restore the bond quite shortly.

As youngsters, safe individuals skilled a reliable and dependable relationship with their caregiver(s). They’d a felt sense that their mother and father had been out there, responsive, and would assist get their wants met.

As a result of their mother and father responded properly to direct communication, these individuals developed self-worth, deciphering their mother and father’ availability as validation that they had been useful and worthy of connection, consolation, and care.

So when one thing isn’t going properly in a relationship or they really feel insecure, they specific their emotions and desires, or they put up a wholesome boundary.

For instance, in a wedding, a safe partner might go to their partner and say “I’m feeling lonely. I miss us. Can we spend a while this weekend doing x.” An insecure partner may say, “You by no means find time for us. You’re simply egocentric and don’t care.” Identical longing, totally different methods.

In courting, a safe one who begins courting somebody who doesn’t honor their phrase will specific their harm, and if it continues, they may transfer on to somebody who’s reliable. An insecure particular person might tolerate the anomaly of blended messages in hopes they may have a relationship.

Each lengthy for a safe relationship; the safe particular person has extra internalized self-worth as a result of previous experiences and, due to this fact, has extra religion they may discover somebody who treats them higher. The anxiously insecure particular person typically believes that is the very best they will get, and so they have to make it work. They each need a loving relationship, the method to creating this love is totally different as a result of attachment methods working program (aka internalized beliefs).

attachment style

Insecure Attachment Types: The Anxious Method to Being Beloved

Somebody with an anxious attachment fashion was by no means positive, as a toddler, whether or not their mother and father had been going to be out there or responsive. It was a toss-up on how they had been going to be responded to in the event that they tried to speak and ask for his or her must be met.

Because it was unclear what stored a caregiver close by, the attachment system tailored to trigger the anxious fashion to concentrate on others and devalue oneself in hopes to extend survival. Listed here are a number of the methods the attachment system adapts one’s communication kinds for somebody who has an anxious fashion:

  1. Self-neglect
  2. Passive aggressiveness
  3. Makes an attempt to regulate one other particular person’s habits or selections
  4. Guilt-tripping

It is because the attachment programming is satisfied that extra direct expressions of wants or emotions are insufficient and won’t work, so one should adapt to outlive.

From a survival perspective, this makes excellent sense that somebody might apply these methods, even when it makes it tough for the anxiously connected particular person and their companion.

Anxious Attachment Type Methods That Block Safe Love

Sadly, these variations are unhealthy and never sustainable in long-term romantic relationships.

Anxious Attachment Type Technique #1: Self-Neglect

Self-neglect is a survival technique to preserve love.

I can recall when my attachment system was hyperactivated; I uncared for key friendships, dropped hobbies that introduced me pleasure, and even canceled vital job interviews on the off likelihood I may spend time with my companion. I felt extraordinarily insecure in my relationship. Word: She did have a job as did I in sustaining that insecurity. The massive drawback was that, if a difficulty got here up that bothered me, I might decrease my emotions and desires.

The programming goes one thing like this: If I don’t have wants, then I’m not a burden and it’s simpler so that you can stick with me. However as Attachment Therapist Stan Tatkin highlights, individuals who faux they don’t have wants are sometimes the neediest of all.

The issue is after we neglect our personal wants and faux that we don’t have any, we develop into a volcano full of lava of resentment and emotions of not being cared for. So we go about our day conserving the lava dormant—telling our companion that we don’t want something, that all the things’s effective.

Then on a random day when one thing small occurs and so they overlook to placed on a brand new roll of bathroom paper, we erupt at our companion for by no means being there for us or taking good care of us. Our companion, shocked and confused on how a bathroom paper roll may do that, then blames you for being “emotional” or “dramatic.” Sound acquainted?

This communication fashion is deeply rooted in previous attachment experiences.

The previous programming: Since closeness and wholesome dependence on one other particular person was unpredictable, the attachment system didn’t really feel protected to concentrate on autonomy and self-exploration. That is why anxiously connected individuals are usually very relational-focused and infrequently really feel they lose themselves or conceal of their intimate relationship.

To point out our wants and emotions is susceptible and very intimate, which may really feel dangerous after we concern that the individuals we love don’t love us as a lot and can go away us for selecting our nostril.

This typically results in clinginess and neglecting private hobbies or different vital relationships, with the fantasy of accelerating the potential for the connection being profitable. Paradoxically, the other is usually true.

The safe antidote: Decelerate and join along with your fears. Then specific them utilizing I statements and your longing or want. Give your companion house to point out up and select you. Then breathe in that new expertise of connection and love. This can be a strategy to heal that attachment harm. Rinse and repeat.

attachment styleAnxious Attachment Type Technique #2: Passive Aggressive

Individuals with an anxious attachment fashion are usually passive aggressive. They aren’t very direct with what they want or need. It is because, to them, this can be a big danger. Someplace in our life experiences we discovered the lesson that being direct about your emotions or wants doesn’t work. In truth, it’s painful.

The story my attachment system operates on is: If I’m direct with what I would like, there’s a chance that my companion will reject me and select to neglect that want.

With a view to forestall this unsure response, the anxious attachment technique convinces me to be passive aggressive and put the onus on my companion to attempt to guess what I would like. (P.S. This doesn’t finish properly as a result of none of us are mind-readers.)


Terri: (feeling insecure) I do know you suppose that Kate Middleton is fairly. (That is additionally a projection—telling our companion what we know they suppose. Once more, not wholesome.)

Deandre: (confused) What?

Terri: I do know that you simply like skinny blondes; I do know you suppose they’re engaging.

Deandre: (nonetheless confused) I imply, yeah, I assume so.

Terri: Yeah, figures … (passive aggressive)

Deandre: What’s mistaken? Why did you ask that?

Terri: (disgusted tone) It’s nothing. (passive aggressive after which goes silent)

Terri was being passive aggressive as a result of she was feeling insecure and wanted reassurance that Deandre was interested in her. Nevertheless, she didn’t specific that to Deandre, who was confused by the dialog and didn’t know why Terri had introduced this up. He’s at nighttime whereas she feels she is being “apparent” about what’s mistaken.

Safe Antidote: Share insecurity in a susceptible approach. “I’m having that fearful thought once more that you simply may not discover me engaging. Are you able to assist me with that concern?”

Word: Somebody who’s insecure when making an attempt this might doubtless reply to their companion’s reassurance with “You don’t truly imply that. You solely stated it as a result of I requested.” Despite the fact that their companion is doing EXACTLY what they need and wish, they (unconsciously) block it as a result of they concern their companion doesn’t truly love them.

When working with {couples}, I’ve the couple decelerate and have the companion sharing maintain the opposite companion’s arms and look into their eyes. They are saying one thing loving. The companion tries to breathe it in. We do that once more 3 times.

Anxious Attachment Type Technique #3: Controlling

The anxiousness that individuals with anxious attachments expertise could cause them to develop into smothering, overwhelming, and controlling as a method to really feel safer.

“The place’s your telephone?” “The place had been you?” “Who’re you speaking to?” “The place are you going?” “Who’re you spending time with?” “You’re not allowed to do …”

All of those questions are requested and demanded so as to assuage the anxiousness that the particular person is feeling—anxiousness that’s rooted in insecurity brought on by previous painful relational experiences.

Let’s have a look at an instance of this:

Brook and Casey have been in a relationship for six months. Throughout her final relationship, Brook was cheated on. Since then, she has been hyperaware and hypersensitive to this occurring to her once more. Dr. John Gottman talks about how emotional and/or sexual affairs trigger PTSD for the betrayed companion.

Casey: I’m going to go replenish the automotive with fuel earlier than we head out for our trip tomorrow.

Brook: (attachment alarm goes off, anxiousness will increase) Would you like me to go along with you?

Casey: No, that’s alright, you retain packing. I’m going to only go to the fuel station throughout city. Shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes.

Brook: (anxiousness nonetheless going sturdy) Okay …

quarter-hour go …

Brook: (texts Casey a number of totally different occasions to ask him the place he’s. The anxiousness will increase, she’s imagining him dishonest on her. She’s calling him, he doesn’t reply, and he or she panics, calling many times.)

Casey: (solutions after the 4th name) Hey child, what’s mistaken? Sorry I missed your calls, I used to be—

Brook: (freaking out now) The place had been you? Who’re you with? What’re you doing?

Casey: What? I’m not with anybody. I advised you I used to be going to get fuel!

Brook: It’s been longer than quarter-hour. What’s taking you so lengthy?

Sadly, these questions go away no house for belief within the relationship as a result of they begin with accusations. Sadly, Casey had truly stopped by an area fruit stand to seize peaches, Brook’s favourite. Casey isn’t an ideal companion, however he’s a reliable one which hasn’t violated any emotional or sexual boundaries of the connection.

When the insecurity hijacks us, it doesn’t enable our companion a complete lot of house to assist us. Our companion typically will get blamed and feels vilified. (Word: That is totally different than staying with a companion who has cheated indirectly and never repaired for that relational rupture. See my article on belief.)

Due to Brook’s concern of betrayal and abandonment, she turns into controlling and overbearing as an try to make sure that she gained’t get cheated on once more. Nevertheless, doing this makes her companion really feel like he’s backed right into a nook and isn’t in a position to do something to assist her belief him. Typically a companion like Casey will get burnout making an attempt to show their loyalty and so they go away the connection.

Safe Antidote: Acknowledge the set off and, in case your companion is reliable and dependable, ask them for help. Private instance, “My uncooked spot is being cheated on 3 times in three consecutive relationships and what helps me not contact that painful spot is when it’s clear to me what you’re as much as, reminders that you simply love me, and if you happen to can, be responsive if I textual content or name.” “I may also work on supplying you with the advantage of the doubt and soothe myself if my PTSD will get activated so once I attain out, it’s softer.”

That is truly what I’ve stated to my partner. I’m not denying my insecurities. I’m proudly owning them and being susceptible in a approach my companion can join with and assist me with, thus resulting in therapeutic for me and belief for our relationship.

attachment style

Anxious Attachment Type Technique #4: Guilt-Tripping

Guilt-tripping reveals up in quite a lot of approaches. The primary is guilting a companion into doing one thing we would like them to do. The second is “exaggerated expressions of harm to create extra guilt”

The primary method can appear to be this:

Tommy and Blake had simply gotten again from work for the night …

Blake: Hey hon, I’m going to exit with a few buddies for some drinks this night.

Tommy: Oh, you’re? (attachment alarm goes off, anxiousness will increase)

Blake: Yeah, it’s been awhile, and we simply all need to get collectively to hang around for a number of hours.

Tommy: So that you’re simply going to depart me right here alone then? I assume I don’t matter that a lot to you. (guilt-tripping begins)

Blake: No, that’s not true in any respect. I like you and I simply need to see my buddies.

Tommy: Effectively, clearly it’s, otherwise you could be staying right here with me as a substitute. (guilt-tripping continues)

Blake: … I imply … I assume I may exit a unique time with my buddies …

Whereas Tommy gained through guilt-tripping, and Blake could be staying residence with Tommy, it wasn’t the reassurance or connection that Tommy was searching for in the long term. It is because Blake was staying as a result of feeling guilt. This blocks Tommy from gaining the reassurance that Blake does love him whereas additionally being able to have buddies.

What Tommy is making an attempt to push for is a felt sense of safety (I matter to you), however sadly, the extra that Tommy pushes this by utilizing guilt, the extra that Tommy is met with the doubt and sense that the love that they’re getting shouldn’t be actual. It’s not voluntary love at this level; it’s compulsory.

“When the opposite particular person hears a requirement from us, they see two choices: to submit or to insurgent.” – Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Within the second method, the exaggeration of harm typically creates sufficient drama to get our companion to cease what they’re doing and look after us, quite than enable them house to assuage us genuinely.

The technique is: The extra helpless we act the extra doubtless we’ll get consideration.

Right here is an instance of this example:

Paul has an anxious attachment fashion and often makes use of the anxious technique or

exaggerating his feelings so as to get his wants met. One night time, Paul notices

that he and his companion Cody hadn’t had intercourse in a number of weeks. Cody had been

working extra time and had come residence exhausted at night time, and he didn’t have the

emotional, psychological, or bodily capability to be intimate with Paul that night time. To not

point out he felt sweaty and never attractive.

Paul makes an attempt to provoke intercourse by kissing Cody in the way in which that alerts Paul desires intercourse

inside a couple of minutes of Cody strolling within the door.

Cody: “I’m exhausted and must bathe and go to mattress. It’s been a protracted day.”

(Walks in direction of bed room.)

Paul: (having observed the dearth of intercourse and emotional closeness between the 2 of them, begins crying)

Cody: (is about to go take a bathe, however then notices that Paul is crying) What’s

mistaken? Are you okay?

Paul: (determined for his anxiousness to be soothed, begins sobbing) You don’t love me


Cody: (totally confused about what brought on this, however feeling unhappy that his companion

feels this fashion) Why are you saying that? In fact I like you.

Paul: (wants closeness with Cody to calm his anxiousness, however is unable to voice this;

begins crying louder) Simply break up with me; you by no means have time for me, work at all times comes first, and I’m left right here deserted.

Cody: (though desperately needing relaxation from work, begins feeling responsible that he

has made his companion really feel this fashion. Unable to look at Paul break down, Cody turns

away from the lavatory the place he was going to take a bathe and begins to

consolation Paul by holding him as he’s crying and telling him that he loves him.)

When Paul acknowledged that he and Cody hadn’t been intimate with each other in

a number of weeks, his attachment system alarm bells started to go off. He began

getting anxious that he was shedding his companion and that their emotional connection

and attraction for each other was fading. He wanted reassurance that this wasn’t

the case, and so as to get this want met, he wanted emotional closeness and

reference to Cody.

want Z.) and as a substitute used emotional exaggeration to guilt Paul into emotional


Though Cody wanted to handle himself within the second (i.e., a bathe to assist soothe his sore and sweaty physique), he felt responsible for the tough feelings that Paul was going via and expressing (albeit utilizing an anxious technique).

Despite the fact that these methods may go within the quick time period, within the long-run the companion who’s guilted into doing one thing turns into much less and fewer glad within the relationship. That is very totally different than Paul saying “I miss you and I’m anxious we’re rising distant.” This safe method provides Cody the house to point out up as a result of it’s clear to him what the issue is.

When companions use guilt-tripping on their companions, they do expertise preliminary satisfaction. Nevertheless, analysis validates that the companion who’s guilted turns into deeply unhappy, and the extra that this cycle continues and occurs once more, the extra the non-anxious attachment companion withdraws and doesn’t specific what they want within the relationship to be pleased.

Due to this, the anxious attachment companion’s concern is bolstered that their companion isn’t invested and doesn’t care about them. It’s a vicious cycle.

To study extra about what to do about these 4 sabotaging methods, watch the video right here.

With heat,

Kyle Benson


Victoria Joy
I am an independent lady, working hard to share my ideas from my experiences to the whole world. I want people to be happier and to understand that your life is very very important. Walk with me and experience the beauty this world can offer by following simple logical steps.


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