Identifying Anxious Attachment Type in 60 Seconds

by | May 11, 2018

Have you ever perceived yourself or were given feedback by your partners/ex-partners/friends that you are emotionally needy in a relationship? The sense of insecurity gnawing inside surreptitiously as you are constantly worried about people you love not loving you back. Hence, there is always this perpetual need to be clingy because distance makes you feel insecure and being insecure in return fuel the need for control. Behavioural wise, this may translate into your unconscious desire for the need to meet very often, having constant assurance from your partner that they (still) love you (and swore never to cheat) and intuitively assessing if your partner has any signs of cheating behaviours (or signs that they no longer love you)

People might describe you as having ‘trust issues’, ‘low self-confidence/worth’ or ‘highly dependent’ person. Typically, you are likely to harbour the following thought process:

“I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my partner doesn’t really love me or won’t want to stay with me. I want to merge completely with another person and this desire sometimes scares people away.”

This is a glimpse of what a person with Anxious Attachment type is like. For a basic understanding of what Attachment Theory is about, you can read more on Why Is Understanding Attachment Theory Important to Understand Relationship.

Anxious Attachment
Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash

Am I Anxious Attachment Type?

Based on modified version of ECR (Experience of Close Relationship) questionnaire by Amir Levin and Rachel Heller, you are likely to have anxious attachment if the below statements largely describe your attitude, thoughts and feelings when dealing with romantic relationships:

1. You often worry about your partner will stop loving you
2. You fear that when someone gets to know the real me, s/he will not like who I am
3. When you are not involved in relationship, you feel somewhat anxious and incomplete
4. When your partner is away, you are afraid that s/he will be interested in someone else
5. When you show your partner how you feel, you are afraid that s/he will not feel the same back
6. You think about your relationship a lot
7. You tend to get very quickly attached to a romantic partner
8. You are very sensitive to your partner’s moods
9. You are worried that if you partner leaves you, you might never find someone else
10. During a conflict, you tend to impulsively do or say things you regret later, rather than be able to reason about things
11. You worry about not being attractive enough
12. If you notice that someone you are interested in is checking out other people, it makes you feel depressed
13. If someone you are dating begins to act cold and distant, you are worried if have done something wrong.
14. If your partner breaks up with you, you will try your best to show him/her what s/he is missing (a little jealousy can’t hurt)

If that is mostly you when you are in a relationship, then it is likely that you have Anxious Attachment. Anxious folks have huge appetite for great intimacy and tend to seek deeper connection (merging) with their partner as much as possible, which often consume much of your emotional energy in the relationship. Visually, it will look like this:

Anxious Attachment 2

Am I dating an Anxious Partner?

Now as we step out of the self-evaluation lens and stand on the other side, how do we know if the partner we are dating have anxious attachment types? How do I assess?

Below are eleven broad signs of how you might experience dating someone with an anxious attachment type
• Wants a lot of closeness in the relationship
• Expresses insecurities – worries about reflection
• Unhappy when not in a relationship
• Playing games to keep his/her interest and/or to get his/her attention
• Have difficulty in explaining what’s bothering him/her. Expects you to guess.
• Acts out
• Has a hard time not making things about him/herself in the relationship
• Let you set the tone of the relationship
• Is preoccupied with the relationship
• Fear that small acts will ruin the relationship; believes that s/he must work hard to keep your interest
• Suspicious that you may be unfaithful

Anxious Attachment 3
Photo by Jéssica Oliveira on Unsplash

The Lovelossophy of Anxious Attachment Type

Love and Belonging are important basic needs to ensure our survival, which is why the threat to losing a relationship, real or imagined, can be emotionally exhausting for people. Obviously, this is much more so for those with anxious attachment types as the Amygdala in their brain suffers a meltdown. The idea of a permanent loss, by choice or by death, creates separation anxiety from our attached figure we often view as our source of comfort or possibly a resource provider. These are paramount to our overall wellbeing.

In my experience of supporting people with anxious attachment type in relationship matters, they are usually cognizant about their situation and may actually hate their behaviour, but describe their experience as ‘I just can’t help but to feel this way’ or ‘I just cannot stop myself.’ The level of disempowerment arising from their overwhelming anxiety would fuel their ‘Activating Strategies’, which refers to compelling thoughts or feelings to get close to their partner, physically or emotionally. Once he or she responds to them in a way that re-establishes security, they often revert back to their normal self.

This is the reason why anxious folks will never outlast a cold war longer than an avoidant lover. The self-soothing mechanism becomes ineffective and they are not able to calm themselves down, which is extremely debilitating if it persists over a long period of time. They will often ‘give in’ to initiate the truce conversation due to sheer emotional exhaustion caused by chronic activation. I know of many people who perceived themselves to be ‘weak’ for being the first to text or call the other half and hated themselves for helplessly doing so.

In my subsequently posts, I will also discuss about the other attachment types. So continue to watch this space. 🙂

Featured Photo by João Silas on Unsplash