Written by therapist Treshana Lewis

Have you ever wondered why some people have difficulty becoming close to others, while others are able to maintain trusting, long-lasting relationships? Do you question others’ love for you or have a hard time experiencing and sharing emotions in your social and romantic relationships? Are you in a friendship with someone that constantly wrestles with their self-esteem? Do you desire to help them, but just don’t know how to because confidence in yourself is never something you’ve questioned?

If you answered yes to any of these questions. Today’s blog, “Am I Anxiously Attached?” will get you one step closer to understanding the unique ways you and those around you engage and behave in relationships.

What is Attachment and How Does It Form

Attachment is defined as a strong emotional bond which involves the exchange of care, trust, comfort, support, and pleasure. Attachment is first formed in infancy between an infant and its primary caregivers. 

Early attachment is characterized by the following; one’s desire to be in proximity to those whom they are attached to, one’s ability to safely return to their attachment figure for comfort and security without fear, one’s ability to safely explore their environment with their attachment figure acting as a secure base, and one’s ability to experience feelings of distress in the absence of the attachment figure.

It is important to note that though attachment begins in early childhood, it doesn’t end there. Experiences throughout life such as those with romantic partners, mentors, teachers, leaders, and friends have the ability to reinforce and/or transform the attachment that was developed in early childhood experiences. 

What Does It Mean To Be Anxiously Attached?

Now that you have an understanding of what attachment is and how it is formed, we will now talk about attachment style, which is formally referred to as the Ambivalent Attachment Style. 

The Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment style in childhood is often characterized by:

  • Mistrust or suspicion of strangers
  • Experiencing great distress when separated from parents
  • No visual appearance of, or an inability to experience comfort when their parent returns

The Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment style in adulthood is characterized by:

  • Unwillingness or hesitancy to become close to others
  • Concern about their partners love for them
  • Great Distress and/or feelings of devastation when relationships end

What’s my parents got to do with it?

Parents of children or adults with the Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment Style may have been inconsistent in how they met the physical, emotional, and social needs of their child. They may have been available and attentive at times, and insensitive or invasive at others. The parent may have looked to you, the child to satisfy their emotional hunger – for example, looking to you for reassurance or seeking you to be their source of comfort. If you are Anxious-Ambivalently Attached, it may have felt like your parents were too distracted by their own needs or insecurities to be sensitive and attuned to yours. That may not have been the case at all times. There may have been moments where it seemed like your parents got it just right. They comforted, supported, cared for, and listened to you exactly as you needed.

As a child and even as an adult, you may feel drained rather than nurtured while in the presence of your parents. You may feel like you are unable to control your thoughts of worry for your parents. You also may feel this weird sense or desire to cling to them out of the feeling of guilt or obligation to care for them.

Hope For The Future

As stated earlier, attachment is something that develops and can be transformed throughout one’s life. No matter what you may have experienced, you can develop what is called a Secure Attachment Style, which is characterized by the ability to form healthy, lasting relationships, sharing feelings, seeking and experiencing comfort, and having good self-concept. 

Secure Attachment is not something that can be developed in isolation. We here at Optimum Joy would like to support you on your journey of understanding and transforming your attachment style. Please reach out to schedule a session today!

A Moment In Time. Black History Month.

In honor of Black History month I would like to take a moment to honor Dr. Maxie Clarence Maultsby who developed a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and counseling system that incorporated neuropsychological facts about the inner-workings of the brain in relation to emotional and behavioral self-control. Let’s celebrate Dr. Maultsby for the impact he has had on the Mental Health field!

 

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