Are you anxious in your approach to love?
About 25% of the population approaches bonding with what scientists refer to as an anxious attachment style.
In the article What Is Anxious Attachment Style & How Can It Affect A Relationship, I walked you through an understanding of how this particular attachment style lends itself to predictable obstacles. Understanding who you are and what you need in any relationship is enormously empowering.
Let’s take this a step further and examine what to do about it when you’re dating!
If you know you are anxiously attached (not sure, take my Love Thyself course and I’ll walk you through all of that and much more!), you have a relatively hard time trusting, feeling safe, secure and loved.
Nonetheless, your ability and need to have a secure relationship can and should be met.
To get there, here are your basic rules of the road:
If you are constantly running from what you fear, it seems even more scary. Stop and face it. Write it out. Tell someone. Get a therapist to help you learn how to tolerate aloneness!
There is a reason you developed this style of attachment, and with professional care, you can learn to stop running from what was so scary as a kid but actually not so bad as an adult.
Don't jump before you get to know. Don’t expect the relationship to rush headlong into the deep end. Ask questions, observe, share who you are.
This period of getting to know is essential to avoiding the pitfall of looking to someone to provide security who simply can’t or won’t. Anxious people feel such a desire to be loved that they often leap before they look.
Ideally a more securely oriented person can bring you into a securely functioning relationship style. These types of people tend to be straightforward, honest and consistent. This behavior will provide an environment in which you can learn to express your needs, have them reasonably met, and develop real trust.
It takes time to observe whether a person truly behaves this way. It’s one thing to be upfront and on time one or two times. It’s another thing to really be consistent even when life is challenging and throws curve balls.
Do not open your heart to someone until they have proven, over time, that they are coherent, consistent, honest and emotionally available.
For each of us, there are signals that convey love and safety. Usually it’s the little things: a smile, a touch, a word, a habit.
Ask yourself, what are the signals to you that mean that your partner cares?
Nobody is a mind reader. If you are anxious, it may feel counterintuitive to be explicit about your needs.
Push the envelope here: “Hey, after you’ve been gone on a work trip, it helps me reconnect when you take a few minutes to ask how my time was and listen to what’s been going on for me.”
... Or “that kiss goodbye in the morning really makes my day and reminds me all day that you’re there for me.”
Let them know it worked! They want to make you happy, this is their reward. This positive feedback loop when reassurance, safety and trust are built creates a meaningful momentum that works for both people.
Resist the potential urge to disguise your need by denying that something made you happy! This is one of the pitfalls of anxiously attached individuals!
When your partner has earned your trust or met your needs in important ways, practice letting go. Trust. What does that mean for you? Not checking your phone obsessively? Not questioning them in a passive quest for reassurance? Let go of the habits of an anxious mind; it will propel positive experiences in your relationship!
Finding security and trust in a relationship takes time and deepens over repetition of a positive cycle. The rewards are worth the effort, so keep at it!
These guidelines are designed to help you overcome the inevitable obstacles and common pitfalls anxious people run into while dating.
The bottom line is that you must understand why you developed an anxious approach to bonding in the first place so that you have the necessary self love and insight to make constructive changes. No real change comes without the necessary insight as to the nature of the problem.
I am a psychologist, psychoanalyst, author and teacher who helps clients get to the root of and heal their relational difficulties. Download my free eBook “The 7 Beliefs of Securely Functioning Adults” or enroll in my Dating Wisely Course today!
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