Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment Explained
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can either be mild or severe. It is a perfectly normal feeling that is very common, but it is also the main symptom of conditions such as panic disorders, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorders. For some people, anxiety can also come in the form of Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment.
But what is Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment? What are the signs? And how can this emotional attachment impact someone’s life? Read on to find out the answers to all these questions.
What is Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment?
Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment disorder is one of four emotional attachment types that can be best described as an insecure relationship that children develop early on with their primary caregiver. This is typically the mother, but it can also be the father or guardian, depending on the situation.
Either way, anxious attachment can start during childhood and impact people throughout adulthood. Nonverbal emotional communication, including body language, eye contact, facial expressions, touch and vocal tone, are all integral to how this anxious attachment will develop in children. Caregivers that have an open body language, are affectionate in eye contact, give calm facial expressions, are gentle in touch, and are tender in their vocal tone are more likely to be understood by their child nonverbally.
What are the signs that indicate Anxious Attachment?
Some signs of anxious attachment you should look out for in children are:
- Fear of strangers
- Extreme distress when separated from parents
- Crying that caregivers cannot easily comfort
- Clinging to parents and caregivers
Some signs of anxious attachment you should look out for in adults are:
- Behaviours that smother or drive their partner away
- A constant need for contact and support from others
- Fear of being underappreciated
- Feeling unsure if a partner can be counted on
- Hypersensitivity to rejection and abandonment
Children with an anxious attachment tend not to explore as much as other children, while adults with anxious attachment worry about losing their partner even when that worry is not warranted. Overall, anxiety is, of course, the main driving factor behind these behaviours.
Are there any other attachment types?
All in all, there are four types of emotional attachment: Anxious, Avoidant, Fearful-Avoidant, and Secure – the former three all being forms of insecure attachment.
Avoidant attachment builds up when the primary caregiver shows less care to their child outside of the essentials such as food and shelter; this can often impact their relationships as an adult.
Fearful-Avoidant attachment is an amalgamation of the anxious and avoidant attachment types. It affects relationships as they crave comfort but are unable to trust those who give it to them.
Secure attachment is found in those who felt safe, seen, known, comforted and soothed during their childhood in part due to the caregiver having good nonverbal emotional communication.
How can Anxious Attachment impact someone’s life?
Those who have anxious attachment tend to be overly needy, which can lead to relationship issues in their adult life. For a relationship to work and be healthy, both partners need to be independent of one another and have space alone from time to time. Those that are overly clingy or rely too much on their significant other could end up pushing them away or putting unnecessary pressure on them.
Feelings of anxiousness or jealousy when their partner is away from them could lead to controlling behaviour or perhaps even manipulative tactics to keep them close. This is something that can not only impact and hurt their partner, but their wider family too. It can lead to damage that is difficult to repair and leave both people feeling hurt and unhappy.
How can therapy help Anxious Attachment?
Therapy is a great way to learn how to better recognise and control your anxious attachment. It provides you with different methods that can make it easier to cope with difficult situations and helps you to better understand yourself. Working with your therapist, you can break down negative thoughts into smaller parts and look for ways to improve the way you feel.
Anxious Attachment Therapy in Warrington, Cheshire.
Therapy is a tool that can be used to help you manage your anxious-ambivalent attachment, allowing you to recognise when your behaviour and feelings are not constructive and find ways to combat them.
If you are looking for a therapist in Warrington, you can visit my website to learn more about how I work. I am also available for Zoom appointments if you are not local or do not feel comfortable with face-to-face settings. Get in touch to book an initial consultation.