Ambivalent Attachment

Ambivalent Attachment

Ambivalent attachment, also known as anxious preoccupied or anxious ambivalent attachment, is one of the four main patterns of relating to people identified in attachment theory. This theory suggests that how we relate to our primary caregivers in childhood influences how we form and maintain relationships throughout our lives.

Understand The Roots Of Ambivalent Attachment

Individuals with ambivalent styles typically had caregivers who were inconsistently available or responsive during their childhood. As a result, they craved the attention they were not regularly receiving and became clingy in an effort to get it. It is important to note that the anxious ambivalent attachment style is not a diagnosis but a pattern of behavior that can be modified through conscious effort.

Desiring Intimacy & Fearing Abandonment

One of the hallmarks of this style is a strong desire for intimacy combined with a fear of abandonment. This can create a push-pull dynamic in relationships where someone may pursue their partner too aggressively, which can often overwhelm them and cause their partner to withdraw. This can feel like rejection to the ambivalently attached person.

Recognizing Ambivalent Attachment In Adulthood

An ambivalent person wants proof of love and affection but often has difficulty believing their partner’s emotional displays and words. They nearly always feel that their relationship is in jeopardy, and they feel and act on that accordingly.

  • Intense Fear Of Being Neglected, Cheated On, Or Abandoned
  • Feeling Insecure Despite Constantly Seeking Reassurance
  • Overwhelming Your Partner With Over-Dependency
  • Picking Fights For Spending Less Time Together
  • Struggling With Jealousy, Possessiveness, or Control Issues

This Impacts Your Relationship’s Health

Individuals with ambivalent attachment styles can sometimes feel compelled to pick fights for not spending enough time together due to feeling undervalued. They may interpret ambiguous cues from their partners as wholly negative. For example, if their partner doesn’t respond immediately to a text, they may assume their partner is angry, and become defensive.

Moving Towards Healthy Attachment

Despite the challenges associated with anxious-preoccupied attachment, you can learn to form healthier relationships through therapy and self-reflection. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, couples counseling, and attachment-focused therapy can help challenge negative thought patterns and develop positive coping strategies. This can build the trust and communication necessary for a healthy relationship in a safe environment.

Modifying Your Habits At Home

Not all change happens in a therapist’s office—it’s possible to work on attachment issues by increasing your sense of self-worth. You can start by building a strong support network, engaging in enjoyable hobbies and self-care, and developing purpose outside your relationship.

Improve Your Attachment Style With Relationship Therapy

If you suspect you may have an ambivalent attachment style, seeking the help of a professional can be an important first step toward a more secure relationship. Contact clinical psychologist Dr. Taji Huang today for individual or couples therapy in the Glendale area. With the right tools and support, you can learn to form meaningful connections while keeping a sense of self-worth and independence.

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