Anxious Attachment Style and Valentine’s Day

Just like the people that celebrate them, each holiday is unique. They have their own style, if you will.

For example, no holiday does family fun and seasonal cheer better than Christmas. With everyone decked out in diamonds and pearls, New Year’s Eve consistently steals the show as best-dressed. With enough leprechauns and pints of beer, St. Patrick’s Day gets us to see green every year. While Easter’s bunny-shaped chocolates give it a run for its money, Thanksgiving takes the cake as the most food-friendly holiday on the calendar.

With their own individual charms, these holidays are something we can look forward to throughout the year. Although different, they are equally sweet–filling us with feelings of familiarity, fun, and security.

But, what about the holidays who’s trademark style makes us shiver with fear and anxiety? One of them is the most horrific of all.

No, it’s not Halloween.

For any of our insecurely-attached readers out there, you’ll agree. The scariest holiday is, without a doubt, Valentine’s Day.

Unlike Halloween–a holiday in which you assume a mask and pretend to be somebody else–Valentine’s Day is all about vulnerability. There’s not much scarier than the idea of stripping your emotional soul naked to embrace the oceanic vastness of your partner’s essence.

No matter the attachment style, this can be tricky territory for most people. For insecurely-attached folks, it feels tsunami-level impossible.

Need some help navigating the emotional storm that is Valentine’s Day? Here’s our go-to guide to getting through the annual holiday of love.

Breaking down Attachment Theory

Our attachment style, the way in which we interact with, and build relationships with others, can have a huge impact on our dating lives. Although psychologists are still studying the nuances of attachment theory, it’s widely agreed that attachment style is the result of learned behaviors picked up throughout our early formative years.

The main types of attachment styles are secure and insecure attachment. Insecure attachment can be broken down into three, more specific categories: anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. For this article, we’re focusing on our anxious amigos, but, more on that later.

To put it simply, children who grew up in consistent and emotionally-supportive households tend to have secure attachment styles. This is not to say that their lives were without hardships, but that their caregivers were considered a safe haven growing up, and typically not a source of their stress to their children.

On the other hand, children that were raised by a caregiver that was either inconsistent or abusive tend to grow into adults with insecure attachment. The anxiety felt throughout their childhood made it difficult for them to learn how to self-regulate or trust others.

Adults who continue to struggle with insecure attachment are likely dealing with the same coping methods that they learned as young children and strengthened throughout adolescence.

Your Attachment Style on Valentine’s Day

If you grew up in constant survival mode, occasions like Valentine’s Day can definitely trigger your defenses.

To make matters worse, those with anxious attachment styles tend to attract romantic partners with who are avoidantly-attached. While two is normally better than one, two partners with insecure attachments can be a source of emotional chaos in a relationship.

I know, all of this is sounding pretty grim.

The good news? No one is born with attachment style flowing through their bloodstream. That means with enough awareness and education, we each have the power to switch up our style.

If you’re noticing your attitude towards Valentine’s Day is particularly nervous or bitter, it might be time to examine how your attachment style might be coming into play.

Remember those three categories of insecure-attachment mentioned earlier? Now that we understand how attachment is formed, let’s take a closer look at how the individual attachment styles manifest within our dating lives.

Anxious Attachment

Have romantic partners ever called you overly needy, jealous, or emotional?

When you’re in a relationship, do you find it difficult to focus on the other aspects in your life?

Do you feel insecure without the constant reassurance from your partners?

Is it difficult for you to trust?

Do you often ‘lose yourself’ in relationships? Or easily fall into codependency?

If you’ve answered yes, you might have an anxious attachment style.

But, don’t worry–you’re not alone. Some studies estimate that, in the United States, nearly 40 percent of the population experiences some form of insecure attachment.

Low in avoidance and high in anxiety, anxiously-attached partners can come across as clingy, or emotionally dependent, on their partners. So accustomed to the inconsistency of their childhoods, anxious-attachment styles manifest in adulthood through an attraction to dramatic, inconsistent, and sometimes toxic relationships.

Anxiously-attached people sometimes find it difficult to trust their partners and experience intense feelings of jealousy. At their worst, this might lead to controlling behavior–like keeping tabs on their partner’s whereabouts or monitoring their texts.

More than anything, the anxiously-attached partner fears being abandoned in the relationship. They will do almost anything to maintain their relationship. For them, the fear of losing their relationship outweighs the fear of losing themself.

Be my (securely-attached) Valentine?

Being in a relationship as an anxiously-attached partner is already scary enough–add in the holiday of love, and the stress can rise through the roof. What might seem like the perfect opportunity to express your unyielding affections for your partner, could quickly turn into a disastrous date of disappointment.

In order to feel secure, the anxiously-attached partner needs to sense that they are both emotionally and physically close with their partner. However, as mentioned earlier, if existing in a relationship as an anxious-attacher wasn’t tricky enough, there’s one more thing. They tend to find themselves in relationships with their insecurely-attached opposite–the avoidantly-attached.

The avoidant-dismissive attachment style is characterized by avoiding closeness in relationships. The complete antithesis of the anxious-attacher, avoidantly-attached partners prioritize independence, rejecting the idea of relying on others or having others rely on them.

If you’re anxiously-attached and in a relationship with an avoidantly-attached partner, you might be feeling a heightened sense of pressure to connect as Valentine’s Day approaches.

It’s true that Valentine’s Day is portrayed to be a grandiose celebration of love. However, it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, it's just another day. If your Valentine’s Day date does not turn out exactly as you imagined, that does not mean that your partner doesn’t love you. It’s important to keep perspective and not let any passing insecurities overwhelm you.

Feeling particularly anxious this Valentine’s Day? Here’s some tips to help you tap into your secure side and find some peace of mind:

Research: Learn about both you and your partner’s attachment styles. Ask your partner to join in the research, too. With enough knowledge, you two can better understand each other and work towards building a healthy bond.

Keep a journal: One of the best ways to clear your mind is write your thoughts down on paper. This exercise is extremely useful for regulating emotions and keeping track of your triggers.

Seek out partners with secure attachment: The anxiously and avoidantly-attached have a thing for each other, it’s true. Down the line, however, their opposite dispositions tend to trigger toxic dynamics within their relationships. In order to grow as a partner, try to choose partners who exhibit traits of being securely-attached. Their security and stability will be just what your nervous system needs to relax within the relationship.

Practice mindfulness: When you’re feeling stressed, try to take a moment to practice mindfulness. Sometimes it can be as simple as removing yourself from a heated conversation to take a few deep breaths. Regularly engaging in mindfulness exercises can help to manage both your emotions and your anxiety.

Relationship coaching: Working with a dating coach has been proven to increase the odds of successfully choosing and keeping the right partner. At Executive Matchmakers, our entire coaching philosophy is backed by science, based on 30 years of research on real life couples. Each of our coaches are certified by the “Love Doctor,” herself, ​​research scientist and therapist, Dr. Terry Orbuck. The coaches at Executive Matchmakers are trained to offer more in-depth, specialized support, helping you to break free from insecure attachment, develop positive dating habits, and, ultimately, reach your highest relationship potential.

The Road Ahead

For an anxiously-attached partner, heading down the road of relationships can be a bit of a bumpy ride. But, it doesn’t have to be. If you know or suspect you have an anxious attachment, why not use Valentine’s Day as a way to face your fears? Although growing out of insecure attachment might seem like a freighting task, with enough motivation, patience, and support, you will reach your relationship goals. By recognizing your attachment patterns and examining your feelings, Valentine’s Day just might be worth celebrating, afterall.