The way we behave in relationships is entirely informed by the way love was shown to us (or withheld) throughout our lives, starting in early childhood. But trauma is just an explanation, not an excuse. The way we behave as adults in any kind of relationship serves as an opportunity for reflection and growth, and some modes of behavior are no fun for anyone!
Anxious attachment is rooted in distrust. Typically, someone who has an anxious attachment style harbors overwhelming abandonment fears and experienced a lot of inconsistency when it comes to love and care as a child. Think unreliable, absent, or unloving parents or caregivers. This attachment style shows itself in the form of unreasonable jealousy, mistrust, codependent tendencies, nervousness, and neediness. Pay attention to the following signs if they apply to you.
You're constantly stressed
If high stress seems to be the baseline constant in your relationship, anxious attachment may be present. If each time your partner’s phone buzzes, you feel suspicious and tense, asking who is contacting them and fighting the urge to look, your partner is feeling it, too. Have you been told that being with you feels like walking on eggshells? While this is a common trope in gaslighting, it is actually a common feeling in anxious attachment relationships, where one partner doesn’t feel they have the trust of the other to freely move through the world.
You have a fear of abandonment
If you are constantly thinking about why your partner might leave you, or if they are thinking about leaving you, or if they are wondering if there is someone better out there, this is a clear indicator. A relationship, in general, is an unspoken contract—an agreement that two people have committed to one another. If there is no comfort in this agreement, only the fear of it suddenly breaking without warning, your fear of abandonment may be manifesting in this style.
You're in need of constant reassurance
Words of affirmation are one language of love, but when it surpasses sweetness and becomes strained and urgent, the need for affirmative words may add tension and pressure to your dynamic. There is a time and place for loving reassurance, but if your need is constant, it may force your partner into an inauthentic corner just to soothe your neurosis.
If being by yourself or not having constant contact with your loved one sends you spiraling, this is an unhealthy sign of anxious attachment. Of course, it can be reassuring to know where the other is for the most part. But feeling a visceral intensity in your body to be in perpetual contact can be suffocating to the other, and it doesn’t allow personal freedom for a feeling of trust and safety within the relationship.
You find yourself in abusive relationships often
Perhaps because someone was witness to an unhealthy relationship dynamic or suffered unreliable caretaking as a child, they gravitate toward those types of relationships as an adult. It may take some work with a professional, as well as some very intentional self-reflection, to free them from these patterns.
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