Anxious Preoccupied Attachment: Entangled in Your Marriage?

Anxious Preoccupied,Attachment Styles,Couples Counseling NYC,Emotionally focused therapy,Loving at Your Best,schema therapy,Travis Atkinson

Anxious Preoccupied Attachment: Entangled in Your Marriage?

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Have you ever worried that your partner or spouse doesn’t love you enough? Do you feel that you can’t get close to them? Do you feel jealousy and fear of being abandoned in your marriage or love relationship? These are just a few signs of an anxious preoccupied attachment style. This is a relationship connection pattern that can affect both your romantic relationships and overall health.

What exactly is an anxious-preoccupied attachment style? How might this mode of communication affect your marriage or love relationship? How can you overcome its difficulties and create a more fulfilling and satisfying marriage or love relationship?

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Defining Attachment Styles

Attachment styles are behavioral and emotional patterns that emerge in early childhood. They are a result of our caregivers’ responses to our needs for safety, comfort, and security. How caregivers respond to us influences patterns of how we form and maintain relationships throughout our lives and how we identify and regulate our own and other people’s emotions (especially our romantic partners, friendships, coworkers, and authority figure relationships). Because attachment style is not a personality trait, it can change depending on who we are in a relationship with. It can also change depending on how we shift our patterns to a healthier, “earned secure” style. This is more compatible with fulfilling marriages and love relationships.

An anxious-preoccupied attachment is defined by an overpowering desire for emotional closeness and intimacy in relationships. Partners with this attachment style frequently require constant reassurance and affection from their partner or spouse and may be overly concerned about rejection or abandonment.

Anxious-preoccupied attachment in relationships

If you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, you may overemphasize your romantic partner’s role in your life. You may become anxious or upset if they do not respond to your texts or phone calls right away. You may also be concerned about being overly needy or clingy while struggling to control your desire for attention and affection from them.

The anxious-preoccupied attachment style is characterized by hypervigilance. You may constantly look for signs that your partner is losing interest in you. Every interaction or conversation you have with them may also be overthought. You seek out hidden meanings or indicators that something is wrong.

Is your spouse constantly accusing you of having an affair?

Schema therapy and attachment in NYC

For example, if your partner arrives home late from work, you may believe they are angry with you and punishing you. Alternatively, you may believe they are seeing someone else because your schema believes that relationships do not last, or you have an underlying belief that you will be betrayed and abandoned (mistrust schema) (abandonment schema). You may become so upset and worried that you bombard your partner with texts and phone calls in an attempt to reach them, but you end up overwhelming them with pressure, pushing them away.

Another feature of the anxious preoccupied attachment style is a strong fear of being alone. Even if there is no evidence that your partner is unhappy or dissatisfied with your relationship, you may be worried that they will abandon you at any time.

Your fear of being alone can cause a variety of negative behaviors in your relationship. For example, you may become excessively needy, clingy, and demanding, pushing your partner away and creating distance between the two of you. Alternatively, you may become emotionally distant or defensive, making a deeper connection with your partner difficult. Perhaps your partner returns home. You greet them with rage and despair, upset at what you believe they have caused you. However, a critical point is that the schema often distorts reality. It causes you to react out of proportion to the situation.

Identify schemas related to an anxious preoccupied style

Individuals with an anxious attachment style may struggle with low self-esteem and self-worth. We call this defectiveness in schema therapy. This schema, or filter for how you perceive the world, can lead you to believe that you are unworthy of love and affection. The defectiveness schema can lead you to expect constant validation and reassurance from your partner, which can become exhausting for both of you.

The anxious-preoccupied attachment style can become self-fulfilling, which is one of its most serious problems. If you have an abandonment schema, you may be constantly concerned that your partner will leave you. You may cope in ways that unintentionally cause this to happen, even if it would have been unlikely. You may, for example, become clingy, needy, or demanding. Your partner may feel suffocated and decide to end the relationship.

Image of an icon to book an appointment now at Loving at Your Best Marriage and Couples Counseling.

Addressing your anxious-preoccupied attachment style

Increase your awareness

Recognizing and managing an anxious-preoccupied attachment style is the first step. Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions, and try to pinpoint times when you feel anxious or insecure about your marriage or love relationship. You can start managing your triggers and patterns by identifying them.

Concentrate on what you need to say

Be open and honest about your needs and concerns without overwhelming your partner or spouse. Reduce the frequency with which you seek reassurance or assistance from your partner or spouse when you feel you need it. Can you work through it yourself rather than feel compelled to demand that your partner reassure you? We have a term called “reassurance seeking” in cognitive behavioral therapy that involves a pattern that ends up reinforcing our anxiety even though we get a temporary reprieve from the panic from demanding reassurance. Simultaneously, try to be open to hearing your partner’s point of view as well as their needs. Work together to find a balance that takes both of you into account (rather than exclusively focusing on a demand for reassurance).

Accept your fears

Invite a better relationship with fear into your life, where you embrace it rather than trying to avoid it. After soothing and calming yourself through your breath or favorite meditation technique, take a step back when you start to feel anxious or worried and ask yourself if your thoughts and emotions are grounded in reality, or if they may be distorted. Schemas are not delusional, but magnifications or minimizations that distort our reality. Are you making assumptions or jumping to conclusions? Work to access your healthier voice as you regulate your nervous system. Your healthier voice can challenge your negative thoughts. It can replace them with more realistic ways of thinking. This allows you to respond with invitations to connect rather than demands for reassurance.

Does fear overwhelm your marriage or love relationship?

Take care of yourself

Self-care is essential for overcoming anxiety and developing resilience. Make time for activities that you enjoy and that help you relax. This may include working out, meditating, or spending quality time with friends and family. You will be better able to deal with the challenges of your relationship if you prioritize your well-being.

Get professional help

Consult an expert therapist at Loving at Your Best if your anxiety is interfering with your daily life or your ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. We can assist you in dealing with your anxiety and developing healthier methods of navigating overwhelming emotions with your partner or spouse. We can offer you support and advice on better managing your marriage or love relationships based on our extensive experience.

An anxious-preoccupied attachment style is not a flaw or a weakness; it is simply a way you learn to cope with your emotions and the emotions of others that can change and improve dramatically. You can live a full and rewarding life by recognizing where you can get stuck and changing your patterns to become more compatible with satisfying relationships.

Getting couples therapy in NYC

Partners may find it difficult to be in a marriage or love relationship with a mate who has an anxious-preoccupied attachment style. Coping with the constant need for reassurance and the fear of abandonment that is common with this attachment style pushes them away. You can do some things to help your partner while also building a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.

Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” is an effective tool that we offer at Loving at Your Best to assist you in developing healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Through therapy, you can learn more about attachment styles and the anxious preoccupied attachment style. You can develop new communication skills. You can find ways to cope with anxiety and the fear of being alone. How can Loving at Your Best’s effective psychotherapy help an anxious-preoccupied attachment partner in a marriage?

What can the partner do to assist?

You may notice that your partner craves emotional connection and intimacy if they have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, but they frequently struggle with insecurity, jealousy, and the fear of being alone. They may be concerned that you do not love them enough or that they are unworthy of your love and attention. As a result, they may become clingy, needy, or overly reliant on you.

You may begin to feel suffocated and angry if your anxious-preoccupied partner constantly seeks reassurance and attention from you. Your partner may also struggle to resolve conflicts because they either avoid confrontation until it explodes or become overly emotional during disagreements, trapping you in an emotional spiral.

What types of therapy can help?

As therapists at Loving at Your Best, we can help you and your partner become more self-aware in various ways. We use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), schema therapy (ST), and emotionally focused therapy (EFT). The client identifies negative thought patterns. They use CBT to develop new, healthier ways of thinking about themselves and their relationships. Clients in ST investigate the underlying causes of their attachment patterns. They learn more about how their past experiences may influence their current relationships. Antidotes to the schemas lead to more regulated emotions. They learn ways of inviting each other to increase the likelihood of satisfaction. You and your partner meet your needs in your relationship. We use EFT to assist clients in deeply identifying their emotions and developing strategies to help alleviate the intensity of those emotions while deepening connections with partners or spouses.

Loving at Your Best therapists may use role-playing or other interventions to help you practice new skills in a safe session setting. Over time, you will gain more confidence in your ability to communicate effectively with your partner, resulting in a stronger, more satisfying relationship.

Image of an icon to book an appointment now at Loving at Your Best Marriage and Couples Counseling.

Managing fears of being alone

To combat loneliness and anxiety, partners can learn new coping mechanisms in therapy, such as mindfulness meditation or relaxation techniques.

We may also use exposure therapy to assist you in gradually confronting your fears and gaining confidence in your ability to deal with unpleasant emotions. Over time, partners can learn to cope better with their anxiety and fear of being abandoned, which can lead to greater emotional stability and stronger relationships.

Best therapy practices

Finding a therapist who understands attachment styles and with whom you feel comfortable opening up is critical. Work with a therapist with the experience to understand your dilemmas and the skills to help you overcome them.

Therapy sessions at Loving at Your Best can be conducted individually or within a couple’s therapy framework. Individual therapy can help you develop more self-awareness and improve your coping skills. Couples therapy can help you improve communication and resolve relationship conflicts.

Self-help techniques like journaling, meditation, and exercise can also help partners with anxious-preoccupied attachment styles learn to control their emotions and take better care of themselves.

It takes time and effort to change one’s attachment style. Being open with a trusted therapist can help you practice new skills and strategies for connecting better outside of therapy sessions.

The goal of psychotherapy is not just to improve the quality of your marriage or love relationship, but also to help you develop a deeper sense of self-awareness, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. With commitment, effort, and the right support, partners with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style can build stronger, more fulfilling relationships and live happier, healthier lives.

You can help your partner calm and soothe their fears without succumbing to their demands.

More ways for partners to help

Understanding the meaning of an anxious preoccupied attachment style is the first step in assisting your partner. Learn about the characteristics of this attachment style, such as the need for constant reassurance and the fear of being alone. Understanding what your partner is going through will allow you to help and support them more effectively.

Assurance without succumbing to the reassurance-seeking trap

One of the most important things you can do for a partner with an anxious attachment style is to be a source of reassurance. Tell them how much you love and care for them, and how committed you are to the relationship. Pay attention to their wants and needs, and make time to spend together. You can help your partner feel more secure and less worried by always providing reassurance.

When they become overly needy, clingy, or demanding, empathize with how difficult it is. Uncertainty can be painful. Reassure them once. Next, set a limit that you will not continue to reassure them at that moment. Their challenge is to accept your reassurance once while also understanding that guarantees do not exist as humans. We work one day at a time, one experience at a time. We grow and strengthen our relationships with no set goal in mind.

Compassionate communication

Communication is critical in any marriage or love relationship. It is especially important if your partner has an anxious-preoccupied attachment style. Discuss your feelings and needs openly and honestly, and encourage your partner to do the same. Even if the content concerns the relationship, challenge them to take in what you’re saying while still maintaining their voice, rather than becoming overwhelmed with emotion and self-absorbed.

Anxious-preoccupied partners have difficulty “seeing” their partners because they are often flooded with their own emotions. Partners I work with at the start of marriage therapy frequently express how lonely or ignored they feel because the relationship has evolved to only address the demands of the anxious-preoccupied partner, leaving their own needs to the side.

Image of an icon to book an appointment now at Loving at Your Best Marriage and Couples Counseling.

Empathically establish rules

While it is critical to understand and support your partner’s needs, it is also necessary to set boundaries when necessary. Indicate when you require time alone or to focus on something else, and encourage your partner to do the same. Setting and honoring boundaries can help you achieve a healthy balance in your relationship.

Kindness with limits

Dealing with anxiety and attachment issues can be difficult for both you and your partner. Even when things are difficult, be kind and patient. Encourage them to get help for their fears without pathologizing them. Your partner’s anxiety is not a personal attack, but rather a way for them to cope with pain via their attachment style. Compassion and understanding can help your partner feel more secure and supported in the relationship.

Encourage therapy

Your partner’s anxiety may be interfering with their daily life or making it difficult for them to connect in your marriage or love relationship, encourage them to seek therapy. A therapist at Loving at Your Best can help your partner manage their anxiety and strengthen your relationship. Offer to assist your partner in scheduling an appointment and, within reasonable limits, remain available to them throughout their journey.

It can be difficult to be in a marriage or love relationship with someone who has an anxious-preoccupied attachment style. It can also be an opportunity to strengthen and fulfill your relationship. Understanding your partner’s needs, talking to them openly and honestly, setting limits, being patient and kind, and suggesting they seek therapy are all ways you can help your partner and make your relationship healthier and safer for both of you. It takes time and effort to build a strong relationship or marriage. Everyone deserves love and connection. With some effort and assistance, you can find and sustain it.

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  • Travis Atkinson

    Travis Atkinson, L.C.S.W., is the Director and Creator of the Loving at Your Best Plan. He has extensive training in marriage and couples therapy, based on over 27 years in practice, earning certificates from top-rated couples therapy models, including: *Certified Advanced Schema Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer for Individuals and Couples *Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist and Supervisor *Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapist *Certified Group Psychotherapist *Honorary Lifetime Member of the International Society of Schema Therapy Travis is a co-author of the latest schema mode therapy inventory, the SMI. He is also the co-author of two chapters in the recently published “Creative Methods in Schema Therapy: Advances and Innovation in Clinical Practice (Routledge, 2020) and author of “Schema Therapy for Couples: Healing Partners in a Relationship” in the Handbook of Schema Therapy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

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