An anxious attachment style can lead to excessive neediness that can destroy a relationship. The good news is, there is still hope. People need people. We are wired to need one another. This means that emotional neediness is not a bad thing nor is relying on others, but when it comes to extremes then things can go wrong. It’s common to lean more on a partner when going through something challenging in life because we need that extra bit of love and support, but when too needy, an unhealthy dynamic is created. This ruins relationships quickly. If you find yourself overly needy and out of control, it is time to stop being so clingy.
To be truly healthy, we must learn to stand on our own two feet. While it is okay to need others, we should also be able to handle being alone and caring for our own stuff. We should each also have the ability to express what is needed in our lives. Any relationship you are involved in should at best be described as interdependent with time shared apart and together. The ability to do this has a great deal to do with attachment style and personality type.
It was once thought attachment styles were created by the type of care received in childhood, but that is only a piece of the overall puzzle. Attachment type is also affected by genetic makeup, life experiences, and even relationship choices. There are three main attachment types that include secure, anxious, and avoidant. Each style affects how you feel when in a relationship, even if it is not a romantic relationship.
When you have secure attachment type, you tend to be loving and warm. You were likely raised by consistently responsive and very caring, along with other positive, healthy relationships. You will likely enjoy the intimacy of a relationship without being overly worried if it is not perfect. Secure attachment types can communicate needs in healthy ways with a partner and expect the same. They are more likely to be satisfied and have high levels of trust and commitment. Secure types do not often fear losing love, but expect a partner to be attentive and loving. Couples in a secure relationship are comfortable with intimacy and behave in ways to encourage growth and evolution.
Avoidant types tend to be taken as dismissive and minimize how close they are with others. Most were raised in a way where emotion was less acceptable and neediness was not tolerated. Independence and self-sufficiency are often maintained, even though you may hope for a close relationship. Out of fear, partners will be kept at a distance and walls kept up to avoid looking needy. If in a relationship with an anxious person, when they become needy, you will become dismissive and distant.
Those with an anxious attachment style can often do fine in casual relationships, but in romantic relationships the neediness seeps out. The relationships tend to be a bit out of control and can become unhealthy. Being overly needy and emotional can spell out disaster. You may want great intimacy and want to be very close, but fear your partner wants something different. This fear will leave you overly sensitive to tiny changes and too much energy will end up devoted to managing emotions.
When looking at all three types, the anxious style is typically the most needy. When you deny your own needs, you will look to others to fill them and can become manipulative. Think about the following statements to see if you are an anxious style:
- I worry about my partner’s love and look for signs it is not there or is changing.
- I get emotionally overwhelmed often and seek out a partner for security or tell my partner how I feel all the time.
- I am insecure and oversensitive when it comes to being slighted.
- My parent(s) were inconsistent in nurturing behaviors and this caused anxiety.
Being overly anxious and clingy can leave your partner emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed. They may express this and you still persist, pushing them further away. Though you try to stop it may seem impossible. Even though you know its wrong to behave in these ways, it is weirdly comforting. However, your partner is likely thinking they should run. They will feel as if they can never be enough of a reassurance for you.
If you are still uncertain whether your anxious style is causing you to cling too tightly to a relationship or partner, ask your self the following:
- Do I use my partner to make me happy?
- Do I expect my partner to fill all my needs?
- Do you require continual validation and reassurance?
- Do you feel abandoned if your partner is not available when needed?
- Do you get upset or angry if your partner does not act like what you expect?
- Do you struggle with being alone?
- When alone, do you find distractions or think about your partner leaving?
- Does your relationship take precedence over everything else?
- Do you take issue when your partner does something without you?
- Do you want included in all your partner’s plans?
If most of these could be answered yes, then you need to work on overcoming this neediness.
How to Stop the Clinginess
Knowing there is a problem is the first step so you can process at a greater rate. This allows you to make changes that can be sustained. Then, learn to sit with the uncomfortable feelings and anxieties. Do not protest every time you feel uncomfortable so you can reengage your partner. Take a breath and respond calmly if at all. It helps if you learn your emotional triggers so you know what is coming and can stop the behavior from happening. Learn to spend some time away from your partner because everyone needs space. Talk to your partner and schedule some time apart. Each of you need to unwind and enjoy the time apart as well as together without worrying about the other. Then, work on your own self esteem. Take on a few new healthy activities to build confidence and focus on your strengths. This can help you build up trust in others as you trust yourself more. Finally, realize there is always room and ability to change. Look for common threads in the relationships from the past and be willing to try something new.