• March 26, 2021

How Ambivalent Attachment Style Affects Adult Relationships

People with an ambivalent attachment style (also referred to as “anxious-preoccupied,” “ambivalent-anxious,” or simply “anxious attachment”) tend to be overly needy. As the labels suggest, people with this attachment style are often anxious and uncertain, lacking in self-esteem. They crave emotional intimacy but worry that others don’t want to be with them.

If you have an ambivalent or anxious-preoccupied attachment style, you may be embarrassed about being too clingy or your constant need for love and attention. Or you may feel worn down by fear and anxiety about whether your partner really loves you.

  • You want to be in a relationship and crave feelings of closeness and intimacy with a significant other, but you struggle to feel that you can trust or fully rely on your partner.
  • Being in an intimate relationship tends to take over your life and you become overly fixated on the other person.
  • You may find it difficult to observe boundaries, viewing space between you as a threat, something that can provoke panic, anger, or fear that your partner no longer wants you.
  • A lot of your sense of self-worth rests on how you feel you’re being treated in the relationship and you tend to overreact to any perceived threats to the relationship.
  • You feel anxious or jealous when away from your partner and may use guilt, controlling behavior, or other manipulative tactics to keep them close.
  • You need constant reassurance and lots of attention from your partner.
  • Others may criticize you for being too needy or clingy and you may struggle to maintain close relationships.

Primary caregiver relationship – It’s likely your parent or primary caregiver was inconsistent in their parenting style, sometimes engaged and responsive to your needs as an infant, other times unavailable or distracted. This inconsistency may have left you feeling anxious and uncertain about whether your needs in this “first” relationship would be met, and thus provide a model for your behavior in later relationships.

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