How Anxious Preoccupied Attachment Affects Your Love Life

Steffo Shambo

Updated on Apr 11, 2024
anxious preoccupied attachment

Have you ever felt like a detective in your own love story?

You’re always looking for clues that your partner might be ready to bail.

Or every time your partner’s about to say a word to you, you feel like you’re on trial for a crime you didn’t commit.

Does that sound like you?

Then, you might be dealing with a preoccupied, anxious attachment style.

Think of it like having a little worry monster inside your head. It’s always whispering doubts about your partner’s commitment.

Now, it isn’t a fancy term for being a love-sleuth. It’s an actual pattern that’s powerful. Powerful enough to turn your love life upside down.

In this article, we’re diving deep. We’ll explore the world of anxious, preoccupied attachment style. I’ll unravel everything you need to know, including how to escape the pit.

What Is An Anxious, Preoccupied Attachment Style?

An anxious, preoccupied attachment is when you’re alert to your partner’s moods and actions. You’re trying to connect the dots that your partner isn’t into you.

Imagine yearning for deep emotional ties.

Have you got it?

Now, combine that with a persistent fear of rejection. This is the reality for individuals with an anxious attachment.

Relationships can feel thrilling and challenging.

The anxious, preoccupied attachment is one of the various attachment styles. It stems from an erratic upbringing with inconsistent caregivers.

Parents and guardians have a huge responsibility. It’s an obvious fact, but many neglect the impact of how long their effect lasts.

Understanding attachment theory can give you insights into your attachment style.

So, reflect on your thought patterns and behaviors. Doing so can help bring you toward a secure attachment.

The constant fear of rejection and the desire for closeness drives insecurity. And this can affect adult relationships.

The Roots Of The Anxious Attachment Style

anxious preoccupied attachment traits can develop at a young age

The roots come from early childhood experiences.

Insecure attachment styles aren’t spontaneous. They’re rooted in one’s upbringing.

There are factors at play here, including environment and caregivers. Toxic people and inconsistent support lead to anxious or avoidant attachment styles.

In contrast, a secure attachment style results from consistent care and support.

The inconsistency in emotional care can cause one to do one or more of the following in their daily life:

  • Show disruptive behavior
  • Have a lack of willingness to explore their environment
  • Emotional behavior
  • Attention seeking


Boost your confidence, master your sexuality, and find your purpose.

So you can reignite the passion in your relationship or attract your perfect woman.

From inconsistent parenting to attachment anxiety

Inconsistent parenting occurs more often than you might think. It happens when a caregiver isn’t emotionally available when they need to be.

At times, they’re close. Other times, they’re distant and insensitive.

The lack of consistency can do a lot of mental damage. It leaves children feeling unsure and anxious about their parents’ availability.

So it leads to clingy or insecure behavior. This makes sense—especially since the child wants love, care, and attention.

Emotional turmoil can prevent you from developing a secure attachment style

anxious individuals often struggle with managing their own emotions

Neglect or overbearing parenting nurtures an anxious attachment style.

Such negative emotional experiences can hinder a child’s growth. This stops them from developing a secure attachment style. The disruption can even continue into adulthood.

In adult life, these experiences can affect your ability to handle emotions. And this affects your ability to form healthy and fulfilling relationships.

What Are The Signs Of Anxious Preoccupied Attachment?

Time for us to take a closer look at some of the indicators of this insecure attachment style. After all, recognizing the signs is the first step to healing from anxious attachment.

Here’s one thing to consider—a statement made in a publication on NCBI:

“Anxiously attached people often have a negative view of themselves”

Besides that, here are some more of the most common signs:

  • Possessive, controlling, or jealous behavior
  • Focused on the faults of a relationship
  • You dread the thought of being apart from your partner
  • Can’t stop looking at your phone for texts and calls
  • Triggering thoughts of their partner

People with insecure attachment styles may show these behaviors regularly. This makes it hard for them to get along with others as well as they could.

Another key sign is emotional neediness and dependency. 

Clingy behavior and emotional dependency

anxious preoccupied attachment compels you to crave validation

Those with an anxious, preoccupied attachment style will show clingy tendencies.

They dream of intimacy and closeness. Yet, they harbor an intense fear of rejection. So, they seek validation and reassurance any chance they get.

Hyperawareness of partner’s actions

Those with anxious, preoccupied attachments are the opposite of a dismissive avoidant.

An anxious person will keep a close eye on each movement from their partner.

They’re sensitive to their partner’s needs. Overthinking isn’t uncommon.

One regular activity might look like something threatening to an anxious partner. They’re also way too reactive.

The anxious, preoccupied attachment can have a significant impact on romantic relationships. You may notice things such as the following:

  • A constant need for reassurance
  • A tendency to overthink
  • Challenges in boundary-setting
  • Enviness
  • The anxious-avoidant trap

I’ll go through each of these in a bit more detail below.

The constant need for reassurance and validation

The anxious, preoccupied attachment style causes severe fear of being alone and abandoned.

So, an anxious person will want some form of reassurance. This usually comes from their partner. They’ll wish for a regular reminder that they’re loved and valued.

You can imagine how this looks.

It results in needy behavior. You become reliant on your partner.

Making decisions and handling emotions might feel like climbing Mount Everest. Hence, an anxious partner may become codependent to an unhealthy extent.

Overthinking and overreacting to almost everything

the anxious preoccupied attachment can make you more prone to stress

Overthinking and overreacting are common in anxious, preoccupied adults.

They’re almost always doing the following:

  • Think about worst-case scenarios
  • Dwell on past events
  • Feel overwhelmed by self-doubt

This often causes them to become sensitive.

They’re unable to take criticism. Plus, they may take everything personally.

Difficulty in laying out boundaries

An anxious, preoccupied person will try to compensate in any way possible. They often forget to consider their needs because they want to please others.

The internal conflict for closeness and the fear of rejection tear them apart. This leads to a struggle to maintain healthy boundaries in relationships.

anxious preoccupied attachment makes it hard to draw the line

Strong sense of jealousy

It’s almost expected for an anxious, preoccupied person to feel jealous of others quickly.

I mean, they lack confidence in themselves.

So, they become hypersensitive to potential threats to their relationship.

The extreme sense of doubt manifests into a form. This form I’m referring to is possessive and controlling behavior. And this strains the relationship.


Boost your confidence, master your sexuality, and find your purpose.

So you can reignite the passion in your relationship or attract your perfect woman.

The anxious-avoidant trap

The anxious-avoidant trap is a destructive cycle. This happens when an anxious person has a relationship with an avoidant partner.

Two negatives should make a positive, right?

Well, this combination leads to a cycle of insecurity and emotional chaos. The anxious partner seeks closeness, while the avoidant partner seeks distance. Ouch.

Effective Ways To Overcome Anxious Preoccupied Tendencies

Here are some practical ways to overcome anxious, preoccupied tendencies:

  • Work on building emotional intelligence
  • Commit to developing your communication skills
  • Establish healthy boundaries
  • Slow down and self-reflect
  • Work closely with a coach or therapist

The anxious, preoccupied attachment is reversible. You can build more secure, healthier relationships.

But before all that, an excellent first step is to quit putting pressure on yourself. How? By pondering this one question, as my YouTube video below explains.

Work on building emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence allows you to do the following:

  • Keep your feelings in check
  • Develop a better understanding of your relationships
  • Connect more easily with others

Having control over your emotions is a skill. This can heal the wounds of anxious and disorganized attachment traits.

Commit to developing your communication skills

Communication is a life skill. Knowing how to communicate well will benefit you in almost all areas of life.

Good communication prevents misunderstandings. It also helps you build a deeper bond with those you care about.

Improving active listening and non-verbal communication is critical. Both of these can help anxious individuals express their needs.

good communication is an essential step toward relationship success

Establish healthy boundaries

Establishing healthy boundaries creates a sense of security in relationships. It involves:

  • Being clear about personal feelings and issues
  • Setting communication expectations
  • Respecting personal space and touch
  • Finding a balance between time spent together and apart

Consider having an intimate relationship check-in. This helps ensure you’re on the same page with your partner.

Slow down and self-reflect

Self-reflection and mindfulness techniques are healing to the inner self. They can help you understand the triggers of your own attachment style and patterns.

Here are some self-soothing techniques worth trying:

These practices will calm the mind. Use any of these anytime you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed.

Work closely with a coach or therapist

An intimacy coach or therapist will offer personal guidance.

If nothing goes your way despite the amount of effort you’re putting in, it’s a sign to get expert support.

Common Therapeutic Approaches To Healing Anxious Attachment

There are certain therapeutic techniques that work well for healing anxious attachment. This includes the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Empowering Anxious, Preoccupied Individuals

A bit of empowerment goes a long way. Words of encouragement mean twice as much for people with anxious, preoccupied tendencies.

And remember, take it easy.

Those with anxious, preoccupied attachment will often feel on edge. But helping them acknowledge this can turn a negative into a positive.

Understanding the attachment theory and different attachment styles gives you insider knowledge. This helps with taking back control of your life.

Have an action-taker mindset. Stop yourself from always being at the mercy of those rollercoaster emotions.


The path through anxious, preoccupied attachment is a rocky one.

Still, it doesn’t have to bring you a dead-end.

This attachment style might seem like an immense pain. But the potential for personal growth is enormous.

Paving the way for positive change isn’t as easy as you think. Yet, it’s more straightforward when you know where to look.

In other words, start by having an understanding of attachment theory. Knowing the different attachment styles may help you find some blind spots.

Now, knowledge is just the first step.

The real magic happens when you put your understanding into action.

If you’re ready to take that leap and transform your relationships and yourself, I’ve got just the thing for you.

Check out my free relationship training video. It’s the ultimate alternative to therapy. You’ll get all the foundational steps to conquering your deepest fears.


Boost your confidence, master your sexuality, and find your purpose.

So you can reignite the passion in your relationship or attract your perfect woman.


How do you treat anxious, preoccupied attachment?

You can treat the anxious, preoccupied attachment style by first acknowledging the signs. Then, make it a priority to practice learning from those with a secure attachment. Doing something as simple as taking mental notes can help build self-esteem. If you feel stuck, seek professional support.

What are the characteristics of anxious, preoccupied attachment?

The anxious, preoccupied attachment has a constant need for closeness. But they also have difficulty in trusting others. Moreover, they’ll have an intense fear of rejection and abandonment. Self-doubt is also a defining characteristic.

What triggers anxious, preoccupied attachment?

Inconsistent parenting is one of the most common triggers for this attachment style. The guardians and caregivers are on and off. They’re not always emotionally supportive. This reinforces a sense of uncertainty in the child.

What is the root cause of anxious attachment?

The root cause of anxious attachment style is fear of abandonment. This often happens because of care-related inconsistencies.

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Steffo Shambo

Steffo Shambo

Men's Tantric Relationship Coach

I am the founder of The Tantric Man Experience™, a pioneering transformational coaching program for men. With over 1500 hours of certified tantra training in India and Thailand and 7 years of experience helping hundreds of men worldwide save their marriages and reignite passion in their love lives.

I have over 8 million views on YouTube and have been featured on VICE and Newstalk Radio for my life’s work - helping men unleash their full masculine potential.

My holistic FLT method seamlessly integrates ancient tantric philosophy with my modern expertise in relationships, sexuality, dating, and men’s health.

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