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Attachment Styles – A Personal Discovery

Dear Randomperson Ontheinternet,

It took me forever to figure this out but I have discovered that I have an Anxious/Preoccupied attachment style with secure tendencies. My ex has, I believe, a Fearful-Avoidant attachment style. If I had figured this out BEFORE my relationship, and my own sanity, pretty much self-destructed it could have prevented a lot of fall-out. I got hurt and she got hurt, far more than should have been necessary, all because I didn’t have this information.

I got really confused because sometimes she would act like a secure, desiring closeness for a long while, then sometimes she would act like a Dismissive which is much more difficult to handle. This is characteristic of the Fearful-Avoidant style which involves mixed feelings of wanting to keep your partner close while simultaneously desiring to push them away.

Even if a relationship must end, it is better if both parties can part on friendly terms. Understanding attachment styles can go a long way toward self-improvement, relationship management, and even breakups. In the following text I will share some vital knowledge which I have compiled based on research into the topic as well as my own experiences.

About Anxious/Preoccupied

As Anxious/Preoccupieds, we live lives that are “out of balance.” We have not learned to be happy on our own whether we’re willing to admit it or not. Much if not all of our lives we have fought against a nagging suspicion that we’re not good enough and are not worthy of love. This is a hard pill to swallow and may be rejected outright by those who, at the moment, feel rather secure despite having taken a test which indicates a Preoccupied disposition.

We are just as unavailable as Secures which is why we tend to not find ourselves in relationships with other Preoccupieds. While a Secure tends to be unavailable because they make relationships last, a Preoccupied will usually be in a relationship because we will tend to go from one, usually dysfunctional, relationship with an Avoidant to another. The reason for this is that Avoidant types are the most available as they tend to avoid relationships, are prone to infidelity, and end relationships frequently. Furthermore, no other attachment style other than Anxious/Preoccupied has the inclination to chase an Avoidant. Secures will accept rejection and move on while other Avoidants will be just as prone to Dismissing suitors.

The characteristics of a person, like me, with Anxious/Preoccupied attachment style can be annoying, irritating, needy, clingy, prone to stalking, vindictive, verbally abusive when insecure, and sometimes even down-right dangerous. When we do feel secure we are the most attentive, loyal, and passionate of partners. When we get insecure it has little or nothing to do with our partner and everything to do with the intimacy-obsessed mania going on in our own heads and hearts. We can be excellent partners but only if you can handle our (hopefully only occasional) bouts of insecurity.

We know that our tendencies can make us seem pitifully desperate, obsessed, and even controlling so we hide it pretty well most of the time. Sometimes we will even overcompensate trying to function more like a Dismissive or Secure. We will sometimes lie and manipulate to try to win our partner’s affection. Knowing that perceived competition can cause a jealously reaction in our partner, driving them back into our arms, we will sometimes play games like letting our partner (or ex) think we are interested in someone else even though we usually aren’t. It isn’t unusual for a Preoccupied to sleep with someone else to cause jealousy whether for revenge or as a manipulative strategy to gain attention but we are the most loyal of the negative attachment types so we typically do not cheat even when we believe we are being cheated on.

We are the most likely type to text and call our partner or ex excessively when we feel our emotional needs aren’t being met. We are the most prone to jealousy and other behaviors which get us branded as “crazy, psycho, desperate, clingy, needy, etc.” We know it’s wrong but as much as we try to hide it, Avoidant types, who we are with more often than not, do not understand their own emotional needs let alone our own so they tend to push us past the limits of our tolerance. As much as we want to hate that person that we used to love it must be understood that they aren’t capable of understanding our needs which, quite frankly, aren’t even rational needs in the first place.

Because we are obsessed with relationships, and are much more in tune to emotions than other negative attachment types, we are, absolutely with no doubt, the most common type to write articles, like this one, about relationships. In fact, once we figure out we can actually attempt to make a living obsessing over romantic attachment it’s like we found a cheat and can now beat the system.

Our preoccupation with relationships and intimacy is usually a fault which we have to counter by trying to redirect our energy to our careers, friends, and families. When we write articles and help other people with their relationships, we are focusing on our career and can share the information with our friends and families. This way we can achieved a balanced life, which will lend to our confidence giving us more Secure tendencies, without having to give up on our pathological drive to consumer ourselves with romantic concerns.

This is an excerpt from a the-love-compass.com article called, “Attachment Pairings: Finding the Best Fit,” where the author admits her latent Anxious/Preoccupied tendencies:

Random side note: People often mention to me that they don’t know which attachment style they fall into because in many different situations they feel they experience all of them. I know the feeling, most of the time I would say that I am a securely attached individual. However, put my relationship on the line or “back me into a corner” and my true anxious patterns will surface. –Erica Djossa

During my research, which has been pretty considerable, almost every single time a writer of articles discussing attachment styles mentioned their attachment style it was just about always someone with Anxious/Preoccupied or Anxious/Preoccupied tendencies. If there was an exception it escaped me. Because romantic attachment is something we consciously crave, we prioritize it.

Coping With an Anxious/Preoccupied

If you find yourself in a relationship with an Anxious/Preoccupied, it is important to understand that, for starters, your partner should, of their own accord, be attempting to work on themselves (without prompting) and their lives so to not be overly concerned with the relationship. This is all about self-knowledge. Have your partner take the test and acquaint them with attachment theory so hopefully they can work through some of their issues on their own. Even if we do change, though, we will tend to regress back to an earlier more reactive child-like state during times of extreme stress such as a death in the family or during a breakup.

We are the hardest to breakup with because when we do get dumped, or think we’re being dumped, we often “loose our minds” and start acting incredibly volatile. Nobody wants to break up with a Preoccupied because our calm and loving demeanor can quickly flip over into a dramatic, maniacal, deceitful, manipulative, and obsessive but these qualities are what usually get us dumped so people will try to sniff us out to avoid getting involved with our type in the first place. These same tendencies will sometimes, usually with the more common female sort, get us get us labeled “psycho” or, in the case of males “jerk” or “a-hole.” The irony of this characterization is that unlike psychopaths who lack all but the most primal of emotions, Preoccupieds have emotion in abundance it’s just not stable if we feel like the relationship is threatened so we manifest extremely negative ones during these times.

If you are scared at this point, try to take a few breaths and consider that, next to Secures who are the best to be with, we are actually the most suitable attachment style to be in a relationship with. Nobody is more attentive, loyal, empathetic, or expressive than the Preoccupied. We are into the relationship almost, if not actually, to a fault. Though we can be quite irritating at times, there are really simple things our special someone can do to help us feel secure and the benefits of doing this to you are great beyond measure. An Anxious/Preoccupied is unlikely to ever leave you and if there is a breakup will be the most likely to take you back even if getting back together is clearly not a good idea. We, and Secures, are also the least likely to cheat on you. Before we get into to an in-depth exploration of what, usually very small, things you can do to keep us acting like the perfect, calm, loyal, loving partner, we are going to look more closely at Anxious/Preoccupied attachment dynamics. I think of our behavior patterns as having three conditions or stages. I call these stages Stable, Activated, and Protestive. The word “Protestive” is almost interchangeable with the word “abusive” but entails specific types of bad behavior.

Stable

Normally, in a stable relationship, we are just fine. We might have to make a special effort to give you some space when you need it but communicating this need to us is usually effective. In this stage we are calm if easily excitable, nurturing, loving, caring, selfless, and delightful to be around. We can also be supremely confident in this stage which can make us sexually irresistible.

Very little maintenance is required on the part of our partner to maintain this stage until unusual, unpleasant, or unexpected circumstances are brought into the scenario. Sometimes we handle these changes well; sometimes we don’t. It all depends on the nature of the changes and, sadly, YOUR emotional reaction to us in the context of the new circumstances.

An effective way to bring us down from this glorified state is to start exhibiting Avoidant and Dismissive behavior patterns. The majority of drama-filled, volatile, and dysfunctional relationships involve a Preoccupied-Avoidant pairing. As previously mentioned, Avoidant types are usually the ones we end up in romantic involvement and we drive each other absolutely CRAZY!

Activated

Like the-love-compass.com indicates, .1) we are hyper-sensitive to small “shifts” within the relationships. We read “facial cues” and identify emotional changes better than any attachment style, even the Secure type. This shouldn’t be surprising considering that those the most concerned about something tend to get the best at it.

When we sense a subtle shift, or our partner starts a job at a bar or whatever, our faulty childish attachment issues activate. During this initial activated stage we won’t make it obvious, unless we are totally out of touch with our nature. We will suppress our natural urges to act out as long as we can. This stage does not always escalate to the next level so hiding our true feelings can be effective if not entirely open and honest. Even in this, relatively mild, stage we will tend to assume the worse and jump to conclusions. If you aren’t returning our text messages we may have an irrational fear that you might be cheating or losing interest; maybe both.

This is a good opportunity for your Preoccupied partner to be assertive with you telling you how they feel without becoming hostile, whiny, or combative. This gives our partner an ideal opportunity to provide us the reassurances we need. When your Preoccupied partner confronts you in this way, you may not understand why they feel the way they do no matter how hard they try to explain it so it can be easy to dismiss your partner’s feelings as irrational; do not do this. If you don’t validate the Preoccupied at this time, they may handle it okay and move on, but, just as likely, they will escalate to the next level which is not a great place for either of you to be.

When your Preoccupied loved one is experiencing this stage, this following is what is going through our mind as per the-love-compass…

Thinking about your mate, difficulty concentrating on other things.

Hence: preoccupied. We are the sort that, particularly during difficult times in the relationship, will allow it to distract and consume us. This is one of the most important traits we have to try to overcome because of the neglect to our responsibilities and ambitions that tend to result.

Remembering only their good qualities.

Even if you are an “awful person” we will tend to glamorize you. You could be a womanizer, a con-artist, or even a pimp but we will still only look at the good. Easily fooled by things we like to hear like, “I have changed. I don’t expect you to believe me but I really have.” We underestimate our worth and exaggerate yours so we will want you back even if you treat us terribly. Note: we aren’t stupid and will call it quits at one point or another depending on the level of severity of our attachment issues. At this stage in my life I’m not very tolerant of behavior I perceive as unacceptable. Unfortunately, we may say or to really hurtful things as a way of safeguarding ourselves against an unhealthy tendency to take someone back that has hurt us more than we can bare.

You may hear things from us like, “you’re perfect. You’re the best woman/man on Earth. You are irreplaceable.” This might sound like nothing more than shameless flattery but it isn’t: we actually mean it when we say those things. If we say you are the most fascinating person we’ve ever met it’s because, to us in our mind, you are. This is, perhaps, slightly delusional but just go with it. We know, intellectually, you aren’t perfect but we emotionally don’t believe it and neither do we care. You accept us so you are like a god/goddess or something and we hope you feel the same about us.

Putting them on a pedestal: underestimating your talents and abilities and over estimating theirs.

Anxious/Preoccupied behavior all flows from the secret unconscious belief we aren’t good enough. Whether we’re willing to admit it to ourselves or others or not, we have insecurities stemming from earlier experiences we have yet to overcome. We, sometimes secretly, fear we really aren’t good enough for you and you can do better. This is often not true, of course.

An anxious feeling that goes away only when you are in contact with them.

Keep in mind these thought patterns don’t occur when in the Stable stage. Once Activated, and even more so when Protestive, this nagging feeling is consuming, difficult to resist, and destructive to our whole life. The healthier and more secure of Anxious/Preoccupied persons will turn to friends and family for support rather than drugs, sex, or alcohol. If you aren’t an Anxious, you will not understand or relate to this so will have to make extra effort to empathize.

Believing this is your only chance for love.

Thinking way too much we will start doing probability calculations which will usually cause us to conclude that we can’t replace you. Remember, in times of duress we will assume the worst, downplay our own worth, and overestimate yours. At this stage in my life, I’m half-convinced that if I don’t find a suitable partner within the next two and a half years (before I’m forty), then I won’t ever find one. I understand this is irrational thinking and I should focus on other aspects of my life but when we are Activated, and especially when we are Protestive, we feel that this sort of nonsense is actually true.

Also, to paraphrase, we will put up with the most OUTRAGEOUS bad behavior so long as we believe there is a chance that our partner will come back and stay with us. It makes us HUGE targets for abusers. We know this and attempt to compensate. After multiple abusive relationships, some Anxious people will start exhibiting Avoidance behaviors as a defense mechanism. This is perfectly okay so long as we are looking on improving ourselves and our lives in the meantime so that one day we will be confident enough to take on a more appropriate match.

You will notice that most of these activated tendencies have to do with separation, sometimes even brief separation. Unless they are inexperienced or have severe issues, your Preoccupied love will tolerate separation so long as they believe the partnership to be secure and themselves loved and missed. If they detect no signs of problems with the relationship, they may not even activate completely but will rather just experience passing thoughts but occupy themselves in a healthy manner as if they were a Secure.

To minimize Activation and Protestation, especially if you would like to, or feel you have to, leave your Anxious partner alone (we’re starting to sound like puppies, I know), I have the following recommendations to offer “off the top of my head…”

  • Before a separation, such as for a new job or a “girls night out,” set aside some time with your partner. Talk to them and make sure they feel secure.
  • Make it a point to impress upon your Anxious love that you are firmly attached and committed to making the relationship work.
  • Share your feelings and concerns. Sometimes you may touch a nerve; be patient.
  • Ensure that your special someone does not perceive any “problems” in the relationship. We have all seen or heard about a dog ripping apart an apartment due to separation anxiety. If there are perceived problems in the coupling and the Anxious type is left alone they will tear themselves apart and then they’ll turn on you. Avoidant types, conversely, often will not want to resolve problems because they help the Avoidant keep distance from intimacy.
  • Call, Text, or otherwise contact your Shatzi regularly when absent. This will show them you are into them (and that you are safe) so there is nothing to worry about. When your someone shows concern because you didn’t come home when expected, or whatever, they will often site “safety” as being their interest. They are genuinely concerned about your safety and will check hospital and jail rosters if they can’t get ahold of you but it isn’t their only reason; they need to know you aren’t losing interest or cheating.
  • Be consistent. The more consistent and predictable you are with your reassurance, the less the Anxious will need. At some point, so long as they are pursuing goals of their own, that don’t involve beating “Grand Theft Auto” or some other such unfulfilling nonsense, they will become more and more of a Secure and less and less of an Anxious/Preoccupied. Times of extreme duress may cause them to regress but, for the most part, after a while your man or woman will become indistinguishable from a Secure, provided they don’t have severe underlying mental health issues which go far beyond simple attachment issues.

A common problem with Anxious/Preoccupied attachment styles is jealousy. Even the more secure Anxious/Preoccupied individuals may experience occasional bouts of jealousy. This can be easily managed unless your partner has extreme self-esteem issues (or unless you’re actually losing interest or cheating).

I found that the following article is absolutely golden, by my estimation. It is designed to help women break their men of jealously but many of the same suggestions will be appropriate for men as well. The helpful tips can be found here: http://www.lovepanky.com/women/girl-talk/jealous-boyfriend-how-to-make-him-not-jealous I’m, personally, not too fond of number eight (because it seems ridiculous) but then I have some Secure tendencies as well so perhaps it should not be dismissed.

At this point you may be wondering if it might be better to simply find a boyfriend (or girlfriend) that’s not so jealous in the first place. My advice, if that is your thought process, would be to do it; leave the person. Do not toy with an Anxious/Preoccupied’s emotions because it will blow-up in their face and yours. An Anxiously attached partner needs a partner who is fully committed. If you are not then make a clean break. The Preoccupied might pursue you for a while but they will eventually get it through their head that you aren’t coming back.

All that having been said, don’t overthink things too much. If you are attached to the individual yourself, and they make you feel good being with them 90 to 99% percent of the time, it may not be necessary to talk yourself out of being with them. You can do a lot worse than a (good) Preoccupied partner but if you are going to commit: commit. If you are going to leave: leave. If you keep “one foot in the door and one foot outside it,” so to speak, there may be serious emotional fall-out as Anxious partners require stable, nurturing, long-lasting relationships and nothing else will do.

Protestive

If our feelings are summarily dismissed, we don’t receive adequate reassurances, or, particularly, if a pattern of behavior in our partner we aren’t comfortable persists, we are escalated to the next level if we haven’t figured out a way to cope with the situation. Though Anxious/Preoccupied attachment styles are fairly predictable, even if you are mindful, sometimes we may escalate for no obvious reason. We will try to explain our reasoning but if we’re upset we may be too emotional to understand why we are having issues. We will often want to talk things out even at inappropriate times and even if things get too heated. Unfortunately, walking away from us can antagonize us even more than failing to validate and show concern about our “feelz.”

The good news is that, unless the individual is truly and completely nuts, this escalated state is usually easy to diffuse and will deescalate quickly when a solution is offered. In this stage, your partner may seem to be acting like an angry or whiny toddler throwing a tantrum. The reason for this is, of course, that your partner IS in fact acting like an angry toddler. Your partner is now utilizing the same ineffectual attention seeking behavior they use on their parents when they failed to meet their needs promptly and consistently.

As much as it may pain you to do so, you MUST meet the Preoccupied’s emotional needs unless you want to deal with more unpleasantness. This might seem unfair to many but the fact is, once the Anxious individual has reached this level of escalation, they are not an adult at that moment. They are, no matter how many multiple-syllable words they use, all but completely irrational in this stage.

To drive this point home, bellow are some of the behaviors you might experience from a Protestive Preoccupied as listed by the-love-compass.com. These behaviors can be particularly pronounced if you are being avoidant or dismissive. You may not understand why or how your Anxious lover does these things so must find some way of learning what their emotional needs are, even if they’re different from your own, and meeting them or ending the relationship with a “clean break.” Note: there may be no such thing as a truly “clean” break with us; we are a pain in the behind during a break up like no one else.

Excessive attempts to reestablish contact.

In case you’re wondering, yes we are crazy… at least during the Protest stage.

Withdrawing.

We will attempt to compensate for our tendency to hound and harass by overcompensating in this manner. This is where we will ignore you, or at least try to. This may be a “revenge” behavior attempting to make you feel how we felt when we felt ignored by you. If this doesn’t work we will get even weirder.

Keeping Score.

As sad and pitiful as it might seem, we will sometimes actually watch the clock for hours obsessing about you. We will set a goal to not call you for a certain number of hours and will actually wait until that exact time to bug you again. Likewise, we will take note of the last time you called or texted and when you finally text you again. If the timeframe is too long in our opinion we get even more agitated. These are just two examples, mind you. There are many other similar ways we “keep score.”

Acting Hostile.

The-love-compass.com lists three behaviors in this category, “Eye rolling, walking away, and leaving room.” I hardly thing these qualify as what I would classify as “hostile” behaviors but they may be experienced. When we roll our eyes, it’s a sign we’ve lost our ability to be assertive and calm because your reactions to our reactions are escalating us further. Walking away or leaving the room may be because we feel overwhelmed by the level of emotion or, more likely, we are trying to act like a Dismissive/Avoidant; hijacking their methods of manipulation to further our own agenda of getting attention in the hopes we will receive the reassurances we need that the relationship is still sound. If this sort of behavior seems counter-productive it’s because it is. Keep in mind these are early childhood coping strategies we used on our parents when they weren’t prompt or consistent enough with our care. It doesn’t necessarily mean our parents were abusive; it might mean they were just busy and a bit overwhelmed.

What I would call hostile is full-blown active abuse such as swearing and referring to you in derogatory terms. If we go this far, we may be too “screwed-up” to handle a relationship, are beyond our level of tolerance so are ready to give up. When this happens the relationship is probably over. If we are at all stable, we will resort to underhanded less obviously abusive ways of manipulating you instead. Full blown abuse is meant to get revenge (for wrongdoing real or imagined) and to punish rather than to influence you to do what we want.

Threatening to Leave.

This is extremely abusive behavior. We learn it from the avoidant types we tend to get involved with. We know it hurts us deeply and in our anger (which is a fear reaction) we might attempt to use it on you. Calling our bluff will usually kill this attempt but it will do nothing to deescalate and may even upset us further.

If your mate, regardless of attachment style, threatens to leave often the relationship may be just as doomed and unhealthy as it would be if there were infidelity or other forms of mental, emotional, or physical abuse. Threatening to leave your attachment is cruel. Even a Secure will feel the sting and become less secure in the relationship; they just handle it better. Dismissive/Avoidants will welcome this. It is their opportunity to jet that they’ve been subconsciously, or even consciously, looking for.

If your Anxious mate does this, understand that they’re doing this in the hopes you will try to talk them into staying. This is a desperate attempt to instigate a behavior on your part that will adequately reassure them you are just as into the coupling as they are. The Preoccupied will often worry you aren’t as attached to and caring of them as they are of you. We have a need to feel you are as much committed and determined in the romantic involvement as they are.

Manipulations.

Pretty much every behavior in this stage fits in the category of “manipulations” but what the-love-compass.com is referring to specifically is “game playing.” Deceitful, dishonest, and selfish, the-love-compass.com sites “not answering calls” and “saying you have plans when you don’t” as examples.

Making Him/Her Feel Jealous.

Even though Anxious/Preoccupieds are less likely to cheat (statistically), at some point we figure out that if the object of our affection (usually an Avoidant of one type or the other) thinks there might be someone else waiting to take their place they react by coming back to secure their “territory.” We may even go so far as to have intercourse with someone else. If it gets to the point of actual infidelity, you may be dealing with an hopelessly dysfunctional relationship but, more often than not, your Anxious mate is bluffing. They will “let you believe” there is someone else or even resort to out-right lying about it.

Diffusing Protest Behavior

Generally, it’s best to try to prevent this from occurring in the first place but an escalation can sometimes happen within moments with neither party seeing it coming. If escalations to the Protestive level happen frequently the situation may be untenable. If the Preoccupied partner is frequently unhappy the relationship or individual may not be appropriate.

I was hoping to find a cute handy list online for tips on helping your partner alleviate their Protestive condition. I have yet to find one so I will attempt to address this on my own. I suspect this will be helpful because I understand my eccentricities and they will tend to match with other Anxious/Preoccupied people’s experiences. I have also delt with another individual with similar but much more extreme Preoccupation coupled with other mental health and substance abuse issues and it was not always possible to diffuse the situation so let’s please keep this in mind as well.

The reason your Preoccupied partner is protesting is because they are feeling you don’t care about them as much as they “care” about you or that there is some other perceived threat to the pairing. Simply telling them you care might actually help but only if they feel you are being sincere and the root of why they’re feeling insecure must be discovered or there will be future issues. Listen to your partner and try not to let them escalate you to the point you begin to regress. Even a secure will act childish if upset and a child cannot hope to provide the emotional support an human being may need.

Remember that because you partner is upset and has regressed to a child-like state so they may not have the mental faculties they need to determine the real underlying cause they’re upset so you may have to help them find it before the situation can be resolved. Listening intently, providing feedback, asking questions and providing reassuring touches will usually calm down a Preoccupied personality very quickly. Saying things like, “shhh-shh-shhhhh. It’s okay babe. It’s okay. Take a few deep breaths dear.” Can also be remarkably effective when combined with reassuring touching.

Congradulations! You are in a relationship with a child. Don’t sweat it though. We all regress at times of emotional unrest and when you need reassuring, often there is nobody better equipped to handle a nurturing role than an Anxious/Preoccupied save, probably, a Secure type. Preoccupies are a pain in the neck at times, there’s no doubt about it but it may be worth it.

Simply making an honest effort to understand them will be noticed; it’s what the Protestive is seeking. They need reassurance that you actually care. Coupled with primal soothing teqniques, you will generally have them apologizing and begging you to forgive them for being an ass almost instantaneously. Now they will be feeling guilty and foolish but they will be calmer.

One mistake Avoidant types make is by not providing the initial calming techniques but, in the Avoidants mind this is not a mistake at all; it serves the purpose of dismissing intimacy and putting distance between themselves and their partner. This is the exact opposite of what the Anxious type needs so they will become very difficult at this point.

Once the Anxious is calm, they will be much easier to communicate with. Then, you can work together to figure out what the underlying issues are that lead to the outburst. Simply making an effort to do with will put the Preoccupied lover even more at ease.

The underlying issue could be something small like, for example, that they are coffee drinkers and made the mistake of trying to communicate with you, or vice-versa, before they’ve started on their second cup. In this case the escalation was due to some pervasive personality trait that must be worked around because it may never be completely alleviated. Again, do not assume the worse but make sure you aren’t in denial if there are more serious concerns.


This may be a good time to point out that mood altering drugs, including alcohol or pharmaceuticals can and will complicate things further. Some people take anti-depressants. I would urge you not to allow your Preoccupied to take anti-depressants. I firmly believe they will do more harm than good all things taken into account. Consequently, even marijuana can complicate things significantly because less than favorable are living unbalanced lives or they would be indistinguishable from Secures. If you are not a Secure (yet) and you do not live a balanced life, you should probably not be smoking marijuana recreationally. I know that sounds harsh, and don’t ask me how I know, but you may find this to be sound advice.


On the other hand, the underlying issue could be a reoccurring theme which is making them uncomfortable which you can easily resolve. If you go out late at night with your friends, for example, it would be prudent to make sure your lover knows who they are. If your friends do hard drugs or drink excessively, you have a problem on your hands, not just with you partner who will definitely not like this, but with your lifestyle in general.

If the underlying issue is that you’ve been displaying Dismissive and/or Avoidant behavior, and the reason for that is because you have an Avoidant attachment type, it is probably time to go to couples counseling and individual therapy. The Anxious-Avoidant match is extraordinarily problematic so you will probably need some outside assistance.

I would humbly suggest that perhaps the two of you will have to work on different areas to meet at some middle ground. The Preoccupied person should learn to focus more on their career, confidence, self-soothing, and other aspects of their life. A Dismissive-Avoidant type should probably work on naming their emotions (because they are out of touch with them) and learning to open up and be more vulnerable. A Fearful-Avoidant person should probably work on both because they’re lacking in both general areas.

Love the One You’re With

Everybody, ideally, would be with a secure but the human experience is rarely ideal. Any relationship with and Anxious/Preoccupied is going to be taxing at times due to a tendency to be emotionally needy. Frankly, I don't see it would be a problem with two (otherwise mentally healthy) Anxious/Preoccupieds in a relationship but this doesn’t happen very often. When one partner starts getting anxious about the relationship the other would, I assume, be a lot more understanding. However, since we are characterized by emotional volatility I can see how that combination could get out-of-hand as well.

Relationships with Dismissives and Fearful-Avoidants can be difficult because they will have an instinct to keep people at a distance even by avoiding resolving issues. The fearful-avoidant is less predictable because they will vacillate between the two. They are also, statistically, the types most likely to cheat. It’s important not to overgeneralize though. If you are an Anxious/Preoccupied and you suspect your partner is cheating, remember to not assume the worse. Just because they are dismissing or avoiding doesn’t necessarily mean there is someone else. Focus on yourself, your life, and your responsibilities as much as you can instead of obsessing on the relationship/breakup.

You, dear reader, may not end up with a secure. Secures have a tendency to be taken and single ones will not put forth the pathological level of effort required to hold the attention of an Avoidant type. Meanwhile, the Anxious/Avoidant may get too eager to wait for a Secure to come along so they will attach to an Avoidant type due to their limited availability. Secures are emotionally sound so can be very good at just about everything including selecting a good partner and making relationships last. If you end up with someone who is not a Secure you must, one way or another, figure out how to cope with the particulars of their attachment style or break it off.

I whole-heartedly believe it IS possible to make a relationship work, even with a less-than-ideal match, but an understanding of the nature of their personalities within a relationship is a must. I had no idea there are people who will constantly be having mixed emotions about being close and keeping people distant nor did I understand the particulars of my own attachment style. If I had understood this prior, I might still not be in a relationship but less harm would have occurred during the breakup so friendship, if distant and fleeting, would still be realistic.

On a Personal Note

My next relationship will, hopefully, be with a Secure or a mild to moderate Anxious/Preoccupied (that’s not totally crazy). If I end up with another Anxious/Preoccupied and that blows up in my face due to mutual emotional volatility, I'll let you know. No personal information about the other party will be disclosed of course. I am in no rush either, mind you.

May fortune favor you in all your endeavors, dear reader!

Sincerely yours,
———–> Caprigon.

Self-Help | Relationships | Mind


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