It's possible for our attachment styles to change. Attachment styles are not fixed or permanent. They can be influenced by past experiences and can be modified through self-awareness, personal growth, and supportive relationships

Understanding Anxious Attachment Style in Relationships

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“Oh I feel so insecure sometimes. I just don't know what to do. It is so frustrating but I always end up acting like that.” I've heard many of my clients and peers say something similar when discussing relationships. I wonder when did we become so aware of this feeling? How do so many of us resonate with feeling insecure? 

While we may be familiar with this feeling, let's get down to basics. There can be multiple reasons why someone might feel insecure, however, insecure feelings often stem from insecure attachment styles developed in early childhood. So today, we will take a closer look at attachment styles.   

What are attachment styles? 

Attachment style refers to the way we form emotional bonds and connections with others, particularly in close relationships. It describes how we think, feel, and behave in relationships based on our early childhood experiences with our caregivers- usually our parents. 

In simple words, attachment style is like an "emotional blueprint" that influences how we approach and interact with others. It affects how comfortable and secure we feel in relationships, how we express our needs and emotions, and how we respond to the needs and emotions of our partners or loved ones. These attachment styles can range from secure to insecure styles. But here insecure doesn't necessarily mean bad and secure doesn't mean good for our relationship 

If you'd like to know more about attachment styles, you can check out this article. But for today we would be exploring the anxious attachment style.

Anxious attachment style 

“Tushar and I have been together for two months and I am worried he is being distant. It was so hard to find someone I’m compatible with—I’m only attracted to a certain type of man, and what if he doesn't find me attractive? So I want to make sure I do everything right. I can’t afford to make any mistakes. I don't want to be dumped again”, says Neha. Neha, 27 has been worrying about her relationship quite a lot these days. She realises she has had the same worries in her previous relationships as well. 

Neha adds, “I know it might sound stupid but I feel like I end up attracting such partners who find me clingy or start avoiding me after a while. I keep worrying about whether I’ll be dumped or not. So I keep asking Tushar if he loves me, he used to answer earlier but now he just gets angry.”     

Hearing Neha share her worries, it seems that she might have an anxious attachment style. People with an anxious attachment style typically have a strong desire for closeness and intimacy in their relationships, but they also tend to experience a higher level of anxiety and insecurity. We see Neha going through a similar emotional experience with her constant worrying. 

Just as Neha kept asking her partner whether he loves her, due to the anxiety, someone with an anxious attachment would seek reassurance and validation from their partners to alleviate their insecurities. Apart from anxiety, one can have a deep fear of being abandoned or rejected by their romantic partners. Their behaviour often gets called 'needy' or clingy'. But even after seeking close relationships with others, the closeness may never feel quite close enough for such individuals.

What do I gain by knowing my attachment style?  

Knowing what attachment styles they have I've often seen clients concerned about their insecure attachment.

"What if this is permanent? What if I never feel secure in a relationship? The thought of our attachment styles being fixed patterns makes it impossible for us to take action.

One might even stress over their behaviour and start seeing themselves as ‘the bad guy’ in the relationship. It's because I'm so clingy that they left me. I shouldn't have been jealous or I shouldn't have overreacted. These thoughts plague their mind and ultimately lower their self-esteem.        

However, in therapy, I have also seen clients feel empowered after knowing their attachment styles. One such example comes from Sonali, 22 who shares how in her therapeutic journey she has reached certain realisations. “I felt like I was going in cycles. I used to get so anxious that I would always imagine the worst. My last partner was sweet and he would always reassure me that he wasn't mad or that he felt the same as I did. But I would still sometimes doubt our relationship and get jealous. It got to a point where I was getting annoyed at myself for being so needy. Going for therapy made me realise my patterns and things finally made sense. I felt like I could now work things out and be better in my relationship. I am still figuring things out but I feel like my relationship gets better when I work on my patterns.”

Becoming aware of her attachment style helped Sonali take steps towards change.

That's right! It's possible for our attachment styles to change. Attachment styles are not fixed or permanent. They can be influenced by past experiences and can be modified through self-awareness, personal growth, and supportive relationships.

As Sonali reflected on her past relationships and the current stress in her relationship, she came to recognize patterns of behaviour, thoughts, and emotions that are associated with the anxious attachment style. She saw how seeking constant reassurance from her partner or being jealous in situations was making her feel emotionally and mentally exhausted.       

Being in therapy made Sonali feel enlightened towards the ways her attachment style would manifest in her relationships but also gave her the strength to address and modify attachment patterns. Of course, the road to changing our attachment style may not be easy and in the beginning, we can feel upset or shamed by our attachment style but with the knowledge also comes power, the power to bring change. Without knowing our attachment style we might keep repeating the same old insecure patterns of behaviour, thoughts, and emotions.    

What can we learn from Sonali’s example?

Seeing how Sonali felt empowered to act through reflecting on her attachment patterns, it is important to note that self-reflection and awareness are essential as the first step to understanding our attachment styles, their origins and how they show up in our relationships.     

However, knowledge alone may not help us bring the change we want to see. Engaging in healthy and supportive relationships also helps in developing a more secure attachment style. Being with a partner who understood, and emotionally supported Sonali as she discussed her patterns with him helped her better her relationship. This is something we all can replicate in our relationships. If after reflecting on your attachment styles you find that you are someone with an anxious attachment, it is okay to talk about your reflections with your partner. In fact, you can encourage them to reflect on the same and share their reflections. After all, communicating with our partner helps us create a new template for secure relationships. 

We see how therapy helped Sonali in her journey towards self-awareness and a more secure attachment style. Seeking professional help can guide you to explore your past experiences, heal from past traumas, challenge negative beliefs, and develop healthier relationship patterns.

To go beyond what we see through Sonali’s example, there are other ways we can build secure attachment patterns for ourselves. Engaging in self-care activities, developing self-compassion, and prioritizing personal growth can contribute to building a more secure attachment style. By enhancing self-esteem, self-awareness, and emotional regulation skills, we can become more resilient and confident in our relationships. Especially when one has an anxious attachment style, knowing how to regulate our anxiety can have big consequences on becoming more secure in ourselves and the relationship. 


No matter what our attachment style may be, consciously practicing behaviors linked with secure attachment, we can rewire our attachment style over time. Some of these behaviors could be developing effective communication skills, setting and respecting boundaries, nurturing emotional intimacy, and fostering trust in relationships. In building our own resources, you can build meaningful connection and communication in your relationships.

About the Interviewer
About the Author
Vidushi Razdan
Vidushi is an experienced, affirmative counseling psychologist. A graduate of TISS, Mumbai with a Master's in Applied Psychology.
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