Your attachment style is formed when you’re a child. The bond your parents make with you, or lack of one, determines how you experience love in your adult life.
My parents weren’t negligent, but anxiety has always run in my family. I remember my mother always being worried and easily upset, something I can’t look past was most likely passed down to my brother and me.
I have an anxious attachment style when it comes to love—always have. In fact, knowing this information and reflecting on my past relationships, my actions make a lot of sense.
But coming to this realization about myself wasn’t an easy one. It took a lot of deep reflection and reading about attachment theory.
Through this work, I pinpointed what parts of my anxious attachment are detrimental to my relationship. Sometimes it looks like pushing my partner away; other times it manifests in the form of me intentionally being mean as a way to manipulate my partner’s feelings.
I don’t plan to rid myself of my anxious attachment style. I try to be aware of it and work on relieving my anxieties for my own sake, but it’s more so managing who I am rather than trying to overhaul my personality. I know there’s nothing wrong with me or anyone who has an anxious attachment style.
But I do want to be a great partner. I want to grow with my boyfriend and not succumb to the notion “this is simply who I am.”
And perhaps what has worked for me will also work for you.
1. Have a weekly check-in time with your partner
A lot of anxieties people have in a relationship come from worrying their partner will leave them. To make sure that doesn’t happen, you might be overbearing, jealous, and untrusting.
To help ease your mind, ask your partner if you can do a weekly check-in with one another. Use the time to talk about any concerns you may have in the relationship. Take the time to listen to your partner and ask them to do the same.
2. Ask questions to understand, not for reassurance
If you feel yourself slipping into the habit of asking your partner for the fifth time today if they still love you, take a pause. Ask yourself why it is you’re about to ask your question. Is it to understand your partner’s feelings more or are you seeking reassurance?
Your weekly check-ins will hopefully make you feel more secure in the relationship, but try not to overwhelm your partner by endlessly asking for validation. If it’s something you really struggle with, talk to them about your anxieties or consider seeing a therapist to work through things.
3. Take a mental note of when your anxieties are proven wrong
Whenever my partner shows up in our relationship in a way that surprises me, I take a mental note. I use this non-physical checklist to remind myself of how committed my boyfriend is, especially when my anxieties are becoming too much to handle.
I suggest doing the same in your relationship. Whenever you’re worried something bad will happen and the opposite occurs, save that memory for the next time your anxieties overwhelm you.
4. Don’t assume you can read your partner’s mind
Instead, ask questions for clarification. If you are wondering what your partner is thinking about a disagreement you had or the fact that they seem upset, talk to them.
Assuming that you can read their mind will lead to you getting upset for no reason. Plus, your partner probably won’t respond well if you accuse them of feeling a way they don’t. Communication is key when relieving a worried mind; simply ask them what’s up.
5. Focus on the positives of your attachment style
Becoming a happier version of yourself will, in turn, make you a better partner. I know that most of the information about an anxious attachment style focuses on the negatives, but there are positives too.
Anxiously attached people tend to be more empathic, loyal, and loving with their partners. You are most likely willing to work with your partner to solve any problems that arise. Your capacity to let love in is most likely very high.
6. Do things that help alleviate your anxiety in general
Again, making yourself happy will help you show up as a better partner. If you don’t have an arsenal of tools that help you with your anxiety in general, it’s time to think of some.
For a lot of people, self-care acts like taking a bath or painting their nails works well. For me, I’m more of a take-a-walk kind of person. I take a stroll in the morning when I’ve had a particularly anxious week. I also love to draw, read, and go for a swim.
Whatever it is that makes you happy or helps you get out some pent up energy, make sure to do them regularly. These tools and activities will help you feel more like yourself and in control of your feelings, which in turn will help your relationship.
I don’t believe in the narrative that there is something wrong with you if you have an anxious attachment style. Rather, it causes you more distress than, say, a securely attached person might feel.
And if you aren’t aware of things, it might cause problems for you in an otherwise great relationship. So rather than thinking you’re broken, use these tips to help you and your partner experience a happier relationship.