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How to Attract Better Relationships and Avoid the Anxiety of Anxious Attachment

How to Attract Better Relationships and Avoid the Anxiety of Anxious Attachment

“If you don’t love yourself, you’ll always be looking for someone else to fill the void inside you, but no one will ever be able to do it.” ~Lori Deschene

There are four types of attachment: anxious, avoidant/avoidant anxious/avoidant secure.

Attachment theory says that the way we relate to our romantic partners mirrors the relationship we had as children with our primary caregivers.

If you are like me, and your parents were absent physically or emotionally, you may have felt a void in yourself growing up and worried about whether you were loved. You feel unlovable and unworthy, which makes it easy to fall for avoidant partners.

A avoidant partner is someone who feels that their independence is more important then being in a relationship. They are uncomfortable speaking up for themselves. They prefer casual relationships over intimate ones. When they start to feel insecure or too attached to you, they will abandon you.

You suddenly find yourself in a situation where your super cute date is canceled or pushed back without explanation. This leaves you questioning your worth, and wondering what you could have done wrong. I know this because I have been there.

In a way your subconscious attempts to recreate the memories you have from growing up. If, for example, you told your parents you loved them and tried to hug them, and they responded with “Stop being so touchy” and “Get off of me,” you began to normalize being rejected when you expressed love. Now, your subconscious will gravitate to avoidant partners who behave in the same manner as your primary caregivers.

Our attachment styles are a key factor in how we relate to others and how our mental health is affected by them. If you are a person with an anxious attachment style and you’re subconsciously drawn to avoidant partners, you will go from one toxic relationship to the next.

You are more anxious if you’re someone who is constantly worried.

  • Attach quickly; when you like someone, you can go from 0 up to 100.
  • Do not worry if they suddenly stop liking you.
  • Worry they don’t feel as deeply for you as you do for them.
  • Fear that if they find out the real you they won’t love or care anymore for you.
  • Think “I will never ever find anyone else” or “This is as good as it gets” when thinking about your relationship, even though you know deep down inside you’re not getting your needs met.

In 2018, I made the decision to seek therapy for the first-time. I was a young grad student with a bright academic future ahead of me, but this was also the time I decided I was ready to date—and oh boy, did that open a can of worms.

I went from feeling cool, collected, and collected to constantly feeling anxious. “Why hasn’t my date texted me yet?” “It’s been four hours since I texted him.” “Does he not like me anymore?” These were just some of the ruminating thoughts that kept echoing in my head. I was losing my mind.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I kept attracting men who were avoidant, and the more I felt them trying to put distance between us, the more obsessed I became with closing the gap. I wanted to feel close to them; I wanted them to love me because if they didn’t, it meant something was wrong with me.

You know how people say, “If they’re not into you, it’s their loss?” To me, it didn’t feel that way. To me, it felt that I had to win their love, and if I didn’t win it, it meant I wasn’t worthy of their time and attention. I became hyperfocused on each detail of our interactions. I started to notice when they added an emoticon or a period after a sentence.

I would track how long it took them for me to get back to me. If someone I was dating responded to my messages within two hours, it meant I felt safe and relaxed for the first hour. But as soon as it got closer to two hours, anxiety would set in.

It was possible to feel anxiety throughout my body. It would feel tight and tender. My shoulders would then feel tighter, and my appetite would disappear. I lost about twenty pounds during this time in my life from the stress and anxiety I couldn’t get under control.

I had a bald patch on my top of the head. It was a shock to see how quickly my mental and physical health had deteriorated. I was a recent grad student who was excited about the future of my career and life. But now, I am struggling to keep my head above water and smile enough to be able to feel normal.

I have an anxious attachment style, so I become hypersensitive to the tiniest of shifts within somebody’s tone, body, facial movements, the words they use, etc. If my date said, “I love you” one day and the next “I like you a lot,” that was enough for me to ruminate on for the rest of the week.

I knew something was wrong and needed to manage my emotions. So I began searching online for help. I landed on Tiny Buddha many times, and it was extremely helpful to read other people’s experiences so I could better navigate my situation.

Since I couldn’t force my romantic partners to meet my needs, I thought, It has to be me. They need to let me be calm and not expect too much. I can change. And I tried. I found many articles about how to let expectations go.

I thought I was the problem. I was expecting too much out of a boyfriend. I believed men were incapable of meeting me and being there for me in the way that I wanted. This was because I had never seen a man be consistently loving until this point in my life. At one point, I even tried to cleanse myself of my “bad energy” by doing a Limpia (cleansing).

Because if I was the problem, I could take control of it and fix the issue. I was unable to control my expectations and change, so I became more depressed.

As you can see, the way we attach ourselves to romantic partners can affect our mental health, and if we’re not aware of the type of partners we are attracting, we can fall into a cycle of going from one toxic relationship to the next.

I felt that seeking therapy was the best decision for me. I was able, through therapy, to be pointed out the toxic cycle in which I was trapped. There are several things you can try if you find yourself in the same toxic circle.

1. Accept that you are ready and able to end the cycle.

Tell yourself the truth. Recognize the ways you have been betrayed by those who only hurt you. This cycle must be ended.

2. Start to do inner-child work.

If you are feeling lonely or hurt, you can visualize yourself at five to seven years of age and connect with that little you. Send them a note. If you felt lonely and hurt, what would you say to your little friend? I would tell my self.  You are my love. You are safe. You are safe.

3. Write down all negative emotions and feelings that your partner has triggered in you.

Make a list with all the reasons you are not interested in this person. You can refer to it whenever that happens.

4. Your nervous system should be under control.

When our sympathetic nervous system becomes activated, our fight-or-flight response turns on and that makes it so hard for us to tolerate the discomfort of separation from the person we’re anxiously attached to. The possibility of a breakup feeling like imminent danger can cause us to panic and turn to safety, which is why we stay in toxic relationships.

You can regulate your nervous system by taking a walk in the woods, exercising, or listening to soothing music.

5. Start to create a routine for self-love.

Journaling for 10 minutes a day can help you reconnect with yourself and work through your emotions. It also helps to identify thoughts and patterns. It is possible to make a list with your mental, physical, and emotional needs, and find small ways to meet these needs each day. You can have weekly dates with yourself. Go out to eat or watch a film.

Do what makes your heart happy. When you feel better about yourself and more comfortable being alone with yourself, you’ll be less apt to turn to another person to fill a void inside yourself.

You have the power to make the life and experiences that you desire. It may seem like you won’t find the right partner because you have an anxious attachment style. But that is not true. Even if you love someone, if you start to feel loved up, you’ll be more inclined to leave and try to fix the problem.

You will eventually meet a partner who is stable and/or willingly to become secure attached to you.

You will find someone to whom you can voice your anxiety, and instead of them dismissing you and telling you to “stop being so sensitive,” they will respond with “What can I do to ease some of the anxiety you’re feeling?” or “What can I do to help you feel safe?” Remember that you are always in control of creating the reality you want to live in.

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Esther Gutierrez

Esther Gutierrez, a Life and Mindset coach, is on a mission helping BIPOC millennials to take control of their lives and create the life they desire. She also helps them heal their relationships. Her life coaching includes astrology and human design. If you want to work with her, you can visit  www.EstherTheMindsetCoach.com

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Tiny Buddha published The Agony of Anxious Attachment & How to Attract Better Relationships.

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