Amber is comfortable depending on her partner and having them depend on her. She doesn't worry about being abandoned or about her partner getting too close to her.

Ben often worries that his partner doesn't really love him or won't want to stay with him. He gets easily frustrated or angered when his needs aren't met.

Do you relate more to Ben?

If so, then these issues are related to having an anxious attachment style.

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Understand anxious attachment style

A man sitting on a couch, looking anxious. He says,

Because Ben's parents were insensitive to his needs in childhood, as an adult, he often:

  • needs a lot of reassurance from his partner

  • has catastrophic thinking,assuming conflict means the relationship is over

  • fears abandonment and rejection

  • has a hard time being on his own

  • feels angry when his partner doesn't provide him with attention

👉 If you identify with these feelings, then you might have an anxious attachment style.

Know that you can take steps to reduce your relationship anxiety and feel better.

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Tip #1: Take Care Of Your Inner Child By Self-Soothing

The inner child is the "little you" who needs self-soothing. Try some of the coping mechanisms below when your emotions feel big and overwhelming.

💡Try paced breathing.

Watch the video below to learn how you can slow down your heart rate and reduce emotional intensity by practicing specific breathwork exercises.

💡Reset your nervous system with an icy cold water plunge for 30 seconds.

  1. Fill a bowl with icy cold water. Keep the water above 50 degrees Farenheit/10 degrees Celsius.

  2. Holding your breath, dip your face in a bowl of cold water.

  3. Put your face in icy cold water for 30 seconds.

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💡Remind yourself that big emotions are okay and it's safe to feel.

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Your partner says they need their space, and you start to feel angry. What's the best way to respond in this situation?

Tip #2: Communicate Your Needs

Instead of...

  • holding your anger in

  • directing it towards yourself

  • or exploding at your partner

A little girl crushing a soda can while grinding her teeth.

Do this...

  • recognize when you start to feel angry

  • slow down and take a deep breath

  • communicate your feelings clearly

David from Schitt's Creek taking deep breaths

⚡ Knowledge check

Scenario: Ben's partner is always late for their dinner dates and Ben gets really upset. He's considering the best way to communicate his feelings.

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Option 1:

“For some reason, I get upset when you're late. Would you be willing to text me to let me know when you'll be late? This way, I'll have some space to process it. ”

Option 2:

"You're always late and this is unacceptable behavior. If you really love me, you wouldn't be late for our dates.”

Option 3:

“I don't understand what makes you be always late. Am I not important enough for you? Are you with someone else?”

Option 4:

“I'm so annoyed by your behavior and I don't want to have dinners with you. I think we should end our relationship.”


How should Ben respond?

Tip #3: Work With A Therapist

You don't have to do this alone! Seeking therapy can be a very important step towards a more secure attachment.

A cartoon therapist talking to a client on a couch

💡Therapy can help you in several ways:

  • Therapists can help you explore your early life experiences and help you understand how it affects your adult interactions.

A mother holding a child in a field Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash

  • You can find alternative ways to meet your needs and enhance self-compassion. Meeting psychological needs for connection, competency and autonomy can decrease feelings of shame, depression, and loneliness.

A series of motivational post-it notes on a wall. Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

  • You can develop more inner security and improve your relationships as a trusting, consistent relationship develops with your therapist.

Take Action

An animated heart hugging itself. The text reads,

By being aware of your attachment style, you're taking the first step toward healing and having a secure relationship.

Take care of your "inner child"!


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