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Anxious Attachment Styles: A Sixth Sense for Danger

Those with an Anxious Attachment Style have a super-sensitive attachment system, and a unique ability to sense when a relationship might be under threat.

Living with an 'Anxious' attachment style

You should choose wisely when it comes to selecting a partner - because your future happiness depends on it. And this is especially true for those with an Anxious Attachment Style. But awareness of your tendencies and how you can seek the security you crave can greatly help to reduce your suffering when it comes to relationships.

The smallest of triggers

Even the tiniest hint that something might be wrong can activate the attachment system of those identifying as having Anxious Attachment. And once activated, you are often unable to calm down - until you get a clear indication from your partner if he or she is truly there for you and that the relationship is safe.

People with other attachment styles also get activated, however, they are far less likely to pick up on the tiny details that those with an Anxious Attachment Style do.

A blessing and a curse

Such heightened perception may be perceived as a gift. A study from the University of Illinois observed that those with anxious attachment perceive the onset of emotions quicker, are more vigilant to changes in others' emotional expression, and have a higher degree of accuracy and sensitivity to people's cues.

On the other hand, these people also tended to jump to conclusions very quickly - and that when they acted impulsively, their judgement became less accurate: it was only when they were encouraged to wait that they made more sound emotional judgements, and use their uncanny ability to decipher the world around them with accuracy.

The perceived 'Danger Zone'

Do you feel as if you're always walking on a tightrope - without a safety net(!) - in relationships? If so, then this is very typical of an Anxious Attachment Style. You may feel on high alert continually, and only have short, brief periods of respite before your insecurity surfaces again.

Here are some other behaviours that people with an Anxious Attachment Style can display:

  • Excessive attempts to make contact

Calling, emailing or messaging many times, waiting for a phone call, or loitering in a place where you are more likely to encounter your partner

  • Withdrawing in the hope for attention

Sitting in silence, seemingly 'engrossed' in something else, hoping for connection - or to be doted upon

  • Keeping score

Paying attention to how long it took for someone to reply or answer a call; then waiting the same amount or time (or longer) to respond. Waiting for the other person to make the first move after a disagreement

  • Hostility

Rolling eyes or looking away when the other person speaks; or getting up and walking out of a room midway through a conversation. This can occasionally lead to aggressive outbursts

  • Threatening to leave

Making threats to end the relationship, seeking attention and reassurance that this will never happen

  • Manipulative behaviour

Acting busy on false pretences - pretending that you have place when you do not; ignoring phone calls for no good reason

  • Causing jealousy

Meeting with an ex, telling them about a singles bar that you went to, or telling him or her that someone else complimented or showed you more attention than your partner does

Although some of the above behaviours may be perceived as extreme, what's interesting is that those with an Anxious Attachment Style, who may feel unsettled and seemingly 'act out' may often only require minimal reassurance from their partner in order to get back on track.

And this is a very important insight for anyone in a relationship: the more attuned you are to your partner's needs at the early stages (or even when seeking a partner to date) - and he or she to yours - then the less energy you will need to spend trying to untangle differences later down the line.

If you identify as having an 'Anxious' Attachment type, then we will be exploring more tips on what you can do to thrive in your relationships, and why you would be better suited to some attachment types more than others in our future REDDI Blog.

Don't know your Attachment Style yet? Take our free quiz now to find out more on the science that has been proven to make or break relationships.

Reference: 'Attached: Identify your attachment style and find your perfect match' - a book by Dr Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

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