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Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment Disorder (Part 2)


How can one tell if someone has an anxious attachment disorder?


Though they may have high opinions of others, adults with a preoccupied or anxious attachment disorder frequently have low self-esteem. While they're both perceptive and sensitive to their partners' needs, people with this psychiatric problem frequently struggle with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Therefore, when a loved one rejects them or ignores their needs, they may place the blame on themselves or decide that they are unlovable.

Adults with anxious attachment disorder typically require ongoing affirmation that they are loved, deserving, and adequate. They may frequently exhibit intense jealousy or mistrust toward their partners. Additionally, they may become frantic, clingy, and preoccupied with their relationships as a result of this fear and the fact that they can't stand the thought of being alone - quite possibly they're even unable to be alone. These intense emotional needs are only resolved by closeness and intimacy. In other words, their intense emotional needs seem to be relieved by the loved one's presence.


For me this was true, but it's also true that even now when I'm not in a relationship I still require a lot of validation. Let's start by taking a look at how all this has played out while in my relationship though. This relationship took place when I was feeling quite insecure with myself and being alone brought about a lot of anxiety. Unfortunately, I didn't have any friends and so when Charles paid attention to me it fed my intense emotional needs. I became clingy and felt like he could do no wrong.


Eventually, he did push one too many of my buttons. This happened with his continual cheating on me. It meant that I wasn't getting my needs fed any longer, plus I'd always thought that monogamy was the only way to go. (Today I'm much more open to polyamorous relationships but that's only when everyone involved is consenting, which I was not at that time.) This was what led to me leaving him, but even in leaving him, I haven't shed all my anxious-ambivalent attachment characteristics. Now these characteristics typically show up when I'm fighting for the healthcare I need. When this happens I need validation and if I don't get it I'll find a provider who will give it to me. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it is something to be mindful of so that it doesn't get out of hand.


How does anxious-ambivalent attachment disorder show up in everyday relationships?


It can be exhausting to have this psychiatric problem because quite frequently it results in a continual sense of emotional ups and downs. This results in stress, anxiety, unhappiness, and a low quality of life. Therefore, relationships can be both "life-saving" and "life-threatening" for adults with anxious attachment styles. For example, the fear of rejection or being left out is like a type of poison that'll result in continual feelings of worry and doubt. The "cure" for this is the presence of a loved one, and more importantly, their display of affection.


(It's really interesting how this can turn up in some people's lives. For me, it turned into a codependent relationship with my child. I'll write more about this at another time.)


All of this happens because anxious people are worried about their place in a relationship and whether their partner feels the same way about them. Since the self-esteem is already low, even a small disappointment or sign of rejection from the partner could be damaging. When Charles destroyed my self-esteem even further with his abuse and cheating, I was left with no self-esteem whatsoever. I honestly didn't even know who I was anymore. The only one who was always there with me was my son, Adrian. So, it makes sense why I became codependent with him.


How does anxious-ambivalent attachment disorder show up in romantic relationships?


Even though a person with an anxious attachment style usually craves romantic relationships, they may still find them stressful and anxiety-provoking. This is because the needs of their partners are very important to them, and typically they're more than happy to meet those needs. However, their own insecurities and self-doubts are frequently projected onto the actions of their partners. When their partner doesn't fulfill their needs in the manner that they expect them to, people with this psychiatric problem believe it's further proof that they're unlovable.

This is why relationships are in some ways both the disease and the remedy for someone who has this psychiatric problem. On the one hand, the anxious attacher partner has a big fear of being rejected or being left behind. This fear causes them to become overly watchful of any potential danger to the relationship. They're constantly looking for signs that their partner still loves them. On the other hand, being with a loved one can soothe and comfort someone with this psychological, which is the remedy.


For me, I honestly don't know that I ever craved a romantic relationship, but I did want someone in my life. I'd always seen myself working and not having children. When I met Charles I got swept off my feet and believed that this was how a relationship should be. I was at a very vulnerable point in my life. In college, I'd watched people make friends easily while I felt nobody wanted to be around me. Having just graduated from college and still having no friends, I felt unlovable. Even my parents were making my life difficult - treating me as a child, not as a grown woman. Unfortunately, this led me to do anything I could to ensure that Charles wouldn't reject me. Being with him made me feel loved, or at least that's what I was telling myself at that time. In reality, I was being a people pleaser yet again.f


For me, I honestly don't know that I ever craved a romantic relationship, but I did want someone in my life. I'd always seen myself working and not having children. When I met Charles I got swept off my feet and believed that this was how a relationship should be. I was at a very vulnerable point in my life. In college, I'd watched people make friends easily while I felt nobody wanted to be around me. Having just graduated from college and still having no friends, I felt unlovable. Even my parents were making my life difficult - treating me as a child, not as a grown woman. Unfortunately, this led me to do anything I could to ensure that Charles wouldn't reject me. Being with him made me feel loved, or at least that's what I was telling myself at that time. In reality, I was being a people pleaser yet again.


There's still a lot that needs to be unpacked on this subject, but hopefully, you're understanding how a child who's born in an abusive home eventually develops this disorder which leads them to an abusive partnership. Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was created to offer resources and support to those who've experienced both child and domestic abuse. My goal is to offer you support as you recover and move on in a healthy way. I know how important this is because I'm a survivor, and I'm always here for you. To help support the work that I do, please be sure to check out my Etsy.



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