Understanding The Ins & Outs Of An Anxious Attachment Style (From A Therapist Who Knows)


Do you know what anxious attachment is? It’s when you’re anxious for people to show you they love you. 

Your parents. Your friends. Your coworkers. 

Because you’re afraid they don’t love you, and you need reassurance. A constant question on your heart: They love me, they love me not, they love me, they love me not.

And then (drum roll please) there’s the dating scene – a trigger for anxious attachment if there ever was one. You like them – but do they requite? 

You wonder:

How come they didn’t call? (Do they not like me?)

Why are they late? (Are they standing me up?)

Was I not supposed to reveal that aspect of my past? (Will they reject me?)

To be sure, most singles feel at least a bit insecure when dating, especially at the beginning stages when you don’t know where you stand. However, when anxious attachment thoughts become an obsession, it’s time to take back control.

Usually, we act out anxious attachment when we felt burned in the past. We experienced trauma because someone didn’t show their attachment to us.  

It may have been a relationship that affected us for years (say, our parents weren’t there for us emotionally). 

Or, the trigger was an interaction that was short-lived. Dating scene, anyone?

Which brings up Coronadating. The irony is that the type of dating going on with social distancing can make us feel more secure, not less. When sex is not on the table, and the “who’s paying” question is moot, you can date in a more wholesome manner. So says renowned romantic-relationship researcher Dr. Helen Fisher, in a recent New York Times article “How Coronavirus Is Changing the Dating Game for the Better.”

Since most Corona-time dating is taking place via video chat – without knowing when you’ll finally be permitted to cross that six-feet barrier – you have time on your hands to make use of the Zoom sessions to get to know each other without normal dating pressures.  Anxious attachment is lessened with social-distance dating. How about that.

You can relax.  Like so many other positive spins on lockdowns, Coronadating might truly lead you to feeling better about the dating process. Your part in the process is to harness it: Skip the small talk, speak from the heart. You’re already at home, and so are they.  That’s an amazing physical and emotional place to start from. When the pressure’s off, you’re less likely to have anxiety attachment. Go for it!


Looking for more help understanding how anxiety can be a tool rather than a burden? Check out my Anxiety Myths Navigator and discover the 12 key anxiety myths that are holding you back and how reframing your thinking can change your relationship with anxiety, and your life. Offered at a huge discount for a limited time, claim your spot here.

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD