Addiction and Relationships

Four Anxious Attachment Methods That Sabotage Intimate Relationships


Your attachment fashion can considerably affect the way in which that you simply relate to different folks, 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 turning into conscious of your unconscious attachment methods (wholesome or not so wholesome) to regain safety in your intimate bond.

Whereas there are various varieties of attachment kinds, Nate Bagley and I centered solely on insecure attachment programs, primarily anxious attachment kinds, throughout our interview. You’ll be able to watch the interview right here.


The Adaptability of Attachment Types in Shut Relationships

The attachment system is a posh 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 at present, 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. (Observe: Survival doesn’t imply thriving for a few of these variations.)

It’s so much like Google Maps. I exploit 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 programs adapt by creating 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 means, after repeatedly dwelling in a relational context resembling a household, our attachment system tailors our conduct to particular relationship companions. As a baby, we be taught to regulate our conduct primarily based on dependable expectations about potential routes to connection and roadblocks to safety. These expectations are partly acutely aware and intentional however ultimately grow to be coded into our attachment programs programming, which is the supply of our distinctive particular person variations and interpersonal approaches for connection and security.

Typically this programming is outdated and may run our present relationships off the highway of completely happy and wholesome love.

There may be a number of variability to attachment kinds, however to make issues easy, researchers typically classify attachment kinds as safe or insecure.

The Safe Attachment Model

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

As youngsters, safe folks skilled a reliable and dependable relationship with their caregiver(s). That they had a felt sense that their dad and mom had been out there, responsive, and would assist get their wants met.

As a result of their dad and mom responded properly to direct communication, these folks developed self-worth, decoding their dad and mom’ availability as validation that they had been beneficial and worthy of connection, consolation, and care.

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

For instance, in a wedding, a safe partner could go to their partner and say “I’m feeling lonely. I miss us. Can we spend some time this weekend doing x.” An insecure partner may say, “You never make time for us. You’re just selfish and don’t care.” Identical longing, totally different methods.

In courting, a safe one that begins courting somebody who doesn’t honor their phrase will categorical their damage, and if it continues, they are going to transfer on to somebody who’s reliable. An insecure individual could tolerate the paradox of blended messages in hopes they are going to have a relationship.

Each lengthy for a safe relationship; the safe individual has extra internalized self-worth because of previous experiences and, due to this fact, has extra religion they are going to discover somebody who treats them higher. The anxiously insecure individual typically believes that is the perfect they’ll get, they usually 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 programs working program (aka internalized beliefs).

attachment style

Insecure Attachment Types: The Anxious Strategy to Being Beloved

Somebody with an anxious attachment fashion was by no means positive, as a baby, whether or not their dad and mom 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 give attention to others and devalue oneself in hopes to extend survival. Listed here are a few 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 manage one other individual’s conduct or decisions
  4. Guilt-tripping

It’s 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 could apply these methods, even when it makes it troublesome for the anxiously connected individual and their accomplice.

Anxious Attachment Model Methods That Block Safe Love

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

Anxious Attachment Model Technique #1: Self-Neglect

Self-neglect is a survival technique to maintain love.

I can recall when my attachment system was hyperactivated; I uncared for key friendships, dropped hobbies that introduced me pleasure, and even canceled necessary job interviews on the off likelihood I may spend time with my accomplice. I felt extraordinarily insecure in my relationship. Observe: She did have a job as did I in sustaining that insecurity. The massive downside 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 grow to be a volcano crammed with lava of resentment and emotions of not being cared for. So we go about our day protecting the lava dormant—telling our accomplice that we don’t want something, that every little thing’s effective.

Then on a random day when one thing small occurs they usually neglect to placed on a brand new roll of bathroom paper, we erupt at our accomplice for by no means being there for us or taking good care of us. Our accomplice, shocked and confused on how a rest room 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 individual was unpredictable, the attachment system didn’t really feel secure to give attention to autonomy and self-exploration. Because of this anxiously connected folks are usually very relational-focused and sometimes really feel they lose themselves or cover of their intimate relationship.

To point out our wants and emotions is susceptible and intensely intimate, which may really feel dangerous after we concern that the folks 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 necessary relationships, with the fantasy of accelerating the opportunity of the relationship being profitable. Paradoxically, the other is usually true.

The safe antidote: Decelerate and join along with your fears. Then categorical them utilizing I statements and your longing or want. Give your accomplice house to indicate up and select you. Then breathe in that new expertise of connection and love. It is a solution to heal that attachment damage. Rinse and repeat.

attachment styleAnxious Attachment Model Technique #2: Passive Aggressive

Folks with an anxious attachment fashion are usually passive aggressive. They don’t seem to be very direct with what they want or need. It’s because, to them, it is a large threat. Someplace in our life experiences we realized the lesson that being direct about your emotions or wants doesn’t work. The truth is, it’s painful.

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

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


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

Deandre: (confused) What?

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

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

Terri: Yeah, figures … (passive aggressive)

Deandre: What’s incorrect? 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 categorical that to Deandre, who was confused by the dialog and didn’t know why Terri had introduced this up. He’s in the dead of night whereas she feels she is being “obvious” about what’s incorrect.

Safe Antidote: Share insecurity in a susceptible means. “I’m having that fearful thought again that you might not find me attractive. Can you help me with that fear?”

Observe: Somebody who’s insecure when attempting this may probably reply to their accomplice’s reassurance with “You don’t actually mean that. You only said it because I asked.” Although their accomplice is doing EXACTLY what they need and wish, they (unconsciously) block it as a result of they concern their accomplice doesn’t really love them.

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

Anxious Attachment Model Technique #3: Controlling

The nervousness that folks with anxious attachments expertise may cause them to grow to be smothering, overwhelming, and controlling as a method to really feel safer.

“Where’s your phone?” “Where were you?” “Who are you talking to?” “Where are you going?” “Who are you spending time with?” “You’re not allowed to do …”

All of those questions are requested and demanded so as to assuage the nervousness that the individual is feeling—nervousness 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 taking place to her once more. Dr. John Gottman talks about how emotional and/or sexual affairs trigger PTSD for the betrayed accomplice.

Casey: I’m going to go refill the automobile with gasoline earlier than we head out for our trip tomorrow.

Brook: (attachment alarm goes off, nervousness 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 gasoline station throughout city. Shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes.

Brook: (nervousness nonetheless going robust) Okay …

15 minutes move …

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

Casey: (solutions after the 4th name) Hey child, what’s incorrect? 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 gasoline!

Brook: It’s been longer than 15 minutes. 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 really stopped by an area fruit stand to seize peaches, Brook’s favourite. Casey isn’t an ideal accomplice, however he’s a reliable one which hasn’t violated any emotional or sexual boundaries of the relationship.

When the insecurity hijacks us, it doesn’t enable our accomplice an entire lot of house to assist us. Our accomplice typically will get blamed and feels vilified. (Observe: That is totally different than staying with a accomplice who has cheated ultimately 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 received’t get cheated on once more. Nevertheless, doing this makes her accomplice really feel like he’s backed right into a nook and isn’t capable of do something to assist her belief him. Typically a accomplice like Casey will get burnout attempting to show their loyalty they usually go away the relationship.

Safe Antidote: Acknowledge the set off and, in case your accomplice is reliable and dependable, ask them for help. Private instance, “My raw spot is being cheated on three times in three consecutive relationships and what helps me not touch that painful spot is when it’s clear to me what you’re up to, reminders that you love me, and if you can, be responsive if I text or call.” “I will also work on giving you the benefit of the doubt and soothe myself if my PTSD gets activated so when I reach out, it’s softer.”

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

attachment style

Anxious Attachment Model Technique #4: Guilt-Tripping

Guilt-tripping reveals up in quite a lot of approaches. The primary is guilting a accomplice into doing one thing we wish them to do. The second is “exaggerated expressions of hurt to create more guilt”

The primary method can seem like this:

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

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

Tommy: Oh, you might be? (attachment alarm goes off, nervousness will increase)

Blake: Yeah, it’s been awhile, and we simply all wish 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 love you and I simply wish to see my pals.

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

Blake: … I imply … I assume I may exit a distinct time with my pals …

Whereas Tommy received by way of guilt-tripping, and Blake can be staying house with Tommy, it wasn’t the reassurance or connection that Tommy was on the lookout for in the long term. It’s because Blake was staying because of feeling guilt. This blocks Tommy from gaining the reassurance that Blake does love him whereas additionally being able to have pals.

What Tommy is attempting 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 is just not actual. It isn’t voluntary love at this level; it’s compulsory.

“When the other person hears a demand from us, they see two options: to submit or to rebel.” – Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Within the second method, the exaggeration of damage typically creates sufficient drama to get our accomplice to cease what they’re doing and take care of us, slightly than enable them house to appease us genuinely.

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

Right here is an instance of this case:

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 accomplice Cody hadn’t had intercourse in a number of weeks. Cody had been

working extra time and had come house 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 horny.

Paul makes an attempt to provoke intercourse by kissing Cody in the way in which that indicators Paul needs intercourse

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

Cody: “I’m exhausted and need to shower and go to bed. It’s been a long day.”

(Walks in direction of bed room.)

Paul: (having observed the shortage 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

incorrect? Are you okay?

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


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

feels this manner) Why are you saying that? In fact I love you.

Paul: (wants closeness with Cody to calm his nervousness, 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 accomplice really feel this manner. Unable to observe Paul break down, Cody turns

away from the toilet 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 accomplice 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 care for himself within the second (i.e., a bathe to assist soothe his sore and sweaty physique), he felt responsible for the troublesome feelings that Paul was going by way of and expressing (albeit utilizing an anxious technique).

Although these methods may match within the brief time period, within the long-run the accomplice who’s guilted into doing one thing turns into much less and fewer happy within the relationship. That is very totally different than Paul saying “I miss you and I’m worried we are growing distant.” This safe method offers Cody the house to indicate 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 accomplice who’s guilted turns into deeply unhappy, and the extra that this cycle continues and occurs once more, the extra the non-anxious attachment accomplice withdraws and doesn’t categorical what they want within the relationship to be completely happy.

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

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

With heat,

Kyle Benson

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