Because their parent-child relationships weren’t conducive to vulnerability or closeness, people with anxious attachment long for deep connection and love. However, these same childhood experiences have made them find it difficult to trust people close to them, including their partners, and creates overwhelming insecurity about their relationships.
This insecurity may cause them to become possessive, overly dependent, and clingy toward their partner, holistic psychologist Nicole Lippman-Barile, Ph.D., says. In an attempt to hold onto their partner, they may end up pushing them away. “People who are anxiously attached often come off as emotionally needy,” Wegner says.
Rather than communicating their needs, though, they tend to act on them. This often leads to a relational pattern of acting out, followed by requiring soothing. For example, the anxious partner has a panic attack when their significant other goes out with friends. To accommodate the anxious partner’s needs, they stay home next time around. “Unfortunately, this dynamic happens all the time, and the partner ends up resentful and frustrated,” Wegner says.
To achieve a healthy relationship, the anxiously attached person should seek someone with a secure attachment style (or someone who works with them to have a secure attachment together). Unfortunately, their actions tend to attract avoidant styles—which confirms their fears of abandonment and rejection, Lippman-Barile says.