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4 Traits of an Anxiously Attached Partner

#3. They might react in ways you don’t understand.

Kathrine Meraki
Feb 5 · 3 min read

As kids, the way we formed an attachment to our parents can affect the way we navigate relationships as adults. If your parents were slow or inconsistent with tending to your needs, you might have become anxiously attached.

In our romantic relationships, we may subconsciously repeat similar behaviours that we experienced in childhood.

Dr Sarah Rodman explains,

Here are 5 signs your partner has an anxious attachment style.

4. They might seek constant reassurance from you

For someone struggling with anxious attachment, they often have fears that their relationship might end at any moment.

Your partner might feel the need to check in with you constantly, asking if you still care about, or love, them. This behaviour may come off as ‘clingy’, but the root of this is often feelings of low-self esteem and a subconscious fear of abandonment.

How to help

  • Understand that your partner might be subconsciously projecting their fears (which often stem from their younger years) into the relationship.
  • Make space for you and your partner to communicate about what they’re going through — and vice versa.

3. They might react in ways you don’t understand

When your partner feels triggered by something you do or say, they might react in a way that seems ‘over the top.’ Sometimes they might resort to protest behaviours.

They can look like::

  • Your partner might try making you jealous
  • They might ignore you (or your calls and texts)
  • They might start an argument with you over something small
  • They might sulk or act in a childish way
  • They might say things like “you’re better off without me!” (usually in the hopes you’ll tell them the opposite)

Your partner might be resorting to protest behaviours because they’re trying to get their emotional needs met (but are unable to express their needs in a healthy way.)

What to do

  • Encourage your partner to communicate their needs with you, and also to explore what needs they think they need to be met.
  • Also encouraging them to explore how they can meet their own needs. This is best done with a therapist, if possible. Remember, you aren’t your partner’s therapist — you can only be there to support them.

2. They’re highly sensitive

Anxious attachment can make your partner feel on high alert. They can sense subtle changes in you and the world around them.

Things like, your tone of voice, mood or actions that seem ‘out of character’ for you (real or perceived.) These subtle changes can make your partner feel anxious or like something is wrong.

This can lead to them reacting in ways you don’t understand or resort to protest behaviours to try and get their needs met.

What to do

  • If your partner is feeling overwhelmed, remember it’s likely their past trauma subconsciously rising to the surface.
  • Encourage them to journal about their thoughts and feelings.
  • Communicate with them the truth of the situation on your behalf. It could be that you’re tired after a long day of work and want to sleep early, but this doesn’t mean you don’t love your partner.

1. They might get jealous easily

When people with anxious attachment experience jealousy, it can be a sign of low-self esteem and a fear of abandonment.

Also, when we fear being rejected (or losing control), we might start feeling jealous. Protest behaviours can rise to the surface when this happens, again to try and get our needs met.

Your partner might feel jealous when:

  • You talk to other people they don’t know
  • You work late or hang out with friends after work
  • You’re close with your family
  • You want to do individual activities (a hobby, playing sports, etc.)

Remember, it’s not about you or what you do. You aren’t a bad person, nor is it wrong to be close to your family or see friends. Your partner is likely reacting from a place of hurt and attachment trauma.

This is something your partner should talk about with a therapist. Click here to search for an affordable counsellor in your area.

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© Kathrine Meraki

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