Anxious Ambivalent _TOP_
The final attachment style (insecure ambivalent) is when a child exhibits ambivalent behaviour towards his/her caregiver. The child is not easily comforted by the caregiver and often demonstrates clingy and dependent behaviour towards an attachment figure yet still rejects them in times of interaction.
You may feel your partner is hyper-critical of you or your relationship in particular, but it is likely that their behavior stems from an ambivalent attachment adaptation that developed long before you ever met.
For those with an ambivalent attachment, your developmental years were likely riddled with unpredictability or a reward-based love system that suggested you must do and behave in a certain way to gain the love of your parents or caregivers. Perceived "incorrect" behaviors likely resulted in your parents withholding love, getting angry, or simply disregarding you.
While everyone is different, relating to your ambivalent partner on a level that gives them security and comfort will not only make your day-to-day relationship more enjoyable, it can also help your beloved on the path to healing and moving toward secure attachment.
Even if your ambivalent partner knows they tend to overreact, leaving an unanswered text too long or showing up late to a date can lead your partner to feel a lack of respect or even that they are not a priority.
A recent study has considered parental antipathy, or emotional neglect, as an antecedent of anxiety disorders; anxious-ambivalent internal working models involved fear of rejection and/or of separation as a mediating factor. Parental antipathy included parental hostility, rejection, coldness, and the experience of being the scapegoat for one's siblings.
The study's results showed that among adolescents and young adults with insecure attachment styles, those with anxious attachment showed a 12-month prevalence of anxiety disorders4. Attachment is moderately related to anxiety, with anxious-ambivalent attachment in particular showing the strongest association5, according to a meta-analysis of 46 studies with children from 1984 to 20105.
Anxious attachment in adults (including fearful avoidant and preoccupied styles) also shows strong associations with symptoms of depression and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). The connection between GAD and anxious attachment seems to manifest most often as the fearful-avoidant and preoccupied-attachment relationship styles. Both of involve hypervigilance to perceived threats such as abandonment; worry-related cognitions with a focus on interpersonal and social domains; and the constant seeking of attention and care from others when such threats are present. Also, a generally negative self-perception about the ability to handle distress serves to heighten anxiety and remain vigilant to potential threats6.
Anxiously attached individuals tend to experience more intense negative emotional reactions and cognitions, such as rumination, and downplay and dismiss positive life events and experiences7. Findings from a study that explored individuals with social anxiety disorder and attachment styles showed that those with anxious attachment reported more severe social anxiety and avoidance, greater impairment, greater depression, and lower life satisfaction than participants with secure attachment8.
Fears of infidelity and abandonment may also influence the behavior ("mate retention behaviors") of adults who try to reduce the infidelity risk and dissolution of the relationship. Findings from a 2016 study demonstrated that women and men who rate higher in anxious romantic attachment perform more frequent mate retention behaviors.
When concerned with the state of their intimate relationships or other relationships in general, anxious individuals would be well-served to consider ways to overcome attachment issues as an important step to improving social aspects of life.
Disorganized types are said to be the least common. They include both anxious and avoidant qualities. Disorganized attachment is characterized by role confusion where the object of affection is simultaneously feared and desired. Patterns of extreme stress and abuse in childhood by primary caregivers inform this attachment style. To learn more about disorganized attachment please use the many resources specific to this type or reach out to me personally.
Avoidant types are less likely to take into account the needs of their partners. If one has a strong desire to push a partner away or flee then they should communicate their need for space to their partner, and try to find a way that both people get what they require. Timelines and reassurances work wonders if partners are anxious, they will be more likely to offer the space required.
Psychologists found that without conscious intervention, we tend to stick with our childhood attachment styles. If we have an anxious attachment pattern, we might become attached and clingy; if we have an avoidant attachment pattern, we tend to cut off to protect ourselves, trust ourselves instead of the world. This is the pathway via which BPD and attachment patterns are correlated.
As an anxious child, you sought constant assurance, approval and attention from others, and as adults, you may demand these from your partners. You have a highly intense need for contact and connection and come across as dependent or clingy. You struggle with the idea of object constancy and experience constant fear of abandonment. You are highly aware of the smallest hint that others may be angry, upset or pulling back from you. When you feel insecure, you cannot help but react with fear, anger, and a desperate search for contact, validation and connection.
If you have an anxious attachment style, you probably learned from aloof or often absent caregivers that to get love, you need to be constantly vigilant, control your environment, and keep others very close to you. When your loved ones leave or need space, you have a strong anxiety reaction and feel abandoned. You tend to take things personally and blame yourself if things go sour.
Those with an anxious attachment style become anxious because one or both of their parents were inattentive to basic emotional and/or physical needs. We humans bring the lessons we learned in the past into the present, to try and avoid that pain in our current relationships.
One large part of having an anxious attachment style is the fear of abandonment. The thought of your partner leaving is untenable and terrifying, so even if your needs and boundaries are being ignored, you may stay in the relationship and try to fix things over and over because you think nothing else is around the corner.
Children with anxious attachment do not have consistent responses to their needs from a parent or caregiver. Children with anxious attachment may be clingy around their caregiver while insecure in themselves or in their interactions with others.
Although previous research has identified a relationship between insecure attachment styles and symptoms of depression and anxiety, evidence regarding the mechanisms of action driving this relationship has been lacking. Consequently, the current study examined the mediating role of resilience in the relationship between insecure attachment styles (i.e. anxious-avoidant, anxious-ambivalent, helpless-disorganized and frightened-disorganized) and symptoms of depression and anxiety. The current study included a sample of 182 participants (i.e., 87 men and 95 women) who completed six questionnaires that assessed each participants' relationship with their caregivers during their childhood, present symptoms of depression and anxiety, and their resilience. Correlational analyses indicated significant relationships among the variables being studied. The formation of an insecure attachment during childhood predicted significantly symptoms of depression and anxiety in adulthood in both men and women. More specifically, the relationship between anxious-avoidant and anxious-ambivalent with symptoms of depression was partially mediated by resilience for men. There were no significant mediation for symptoms of anxiety for me. Within the women population, resilience served as a partial mediator in the relationship between anxious-ambivalent attachment and depression as well as in the relationship between frightened-disorganized attachment and anxiety. Such findings suggested that resilience could act as a protective factor against symptoms of depression and anxiety. These results demonstrated the importance for promoting resilience, especially for individuals who formed insecure attachments during childhood. The importance of studying the relationships among these variables is discussed further.
Some children (about 60 percent of them) seemed upset when their parents left, but quickly re-engaged when their parents returned; children showing this pattern were called secure. Some children (about 20 percent of them), whom Ainsworth classified as anxious-avoidant, seemed not to care about being separated from, or being reunited with, their parents; some of them even seemed to actively avoid their parents altogether, preferring instead to play alone. (Later physiological studies showed that these children are not in fact any less distressed by the separation; they just cope with this internal distress by masking it.) Other children (roughly 20 percent) were classified as anxious-ambivalent; they clung to their parents, and were extremely upset when their parents left. Even when their parents came back, they were difficult to soothe, and seemed to be angry at their parents for leaving.
Then there are those who are neither anxious nor avoidant in their relationship with God. These people, instead, seem to remain steadily connected to God through both ups and downs in their lives, and their relationship with God seems stable and integrated. These are patterns characteristic of secure attachment.
Attachment theory originated as a way to explain how infants would react when separated from and then reunited with their primary care takers. Over time, this theory has been expanded to also explain how adults in romantic relationships attach to one another. According to attachment theory, there are four different types of attachment: secure, avoidant, anxious and disorganized.