Type: Anxious-Preoccupied

People of the anxious-preoccupied type (who we will call the Preoccupied) are the second largest attachment type group, at about 20% of the population. Because their early attachment needs were unsatisfied or inconsistently satisfied, they crave intimacy but tend to feel doubtful about their own worth, making it harder for them to trust that they are loved and cared for. At the extremes, and with a more secure or dismissive partner, they are viewed as “needy” or “clingy,” and can drive others away by their demands for attention. Many have never been able to come to terms with memories of parental failures:

Often they spoke as if the feelings of hurt and anger they had as children were as alive in them today as they had been twenty or thirty years before. The childhoods they described were often characterized by intense efforts to please their parents, considerable anger and disappointment, and by role reversals in which the child had tried to parent the adult. But these memories were expressed in a confused and incoherent manner, as if they had never been able to get a grip on what happened to them and integrate it into a comprehensible picture. They seemed still so enmeshed with their parents that infantile feelings flooded and bewildered them as they recalled the past. –Karen, p. 386

This insecurity is often the result of an insecure parental figure who is herself too needy to allow her child independence with assurance:

A mother who has never worked through her own ambivalent attachment has probably been struggling all her life to find stable love. When she was a child, she may have been pained by the competent, steady caring that she saw friends’ parents give to them. As an adult she may be prone to a nagging, uncontrollable jealousy in any close relationships, where she feels cause for doubt. She may want to love deeply and steadily, but it is hard for her because she’s never been filled up enough with patient, reliable love to be in a position to give it…. Some preoccupied mothers frequently intrude when the baby is happily exploring on his own and push for interaction even when the baby resists it…. For if a  mother unconsciously wishes to keep a baby addicted to her, there is no better strategy than being inconsistently available. Nothing makes a laboratory rat push a pedal more furiously than an inconsistent reward. –Karen, p. 375

As preoccupied children grow up, others notice they are too self-centered to quietly listen to emotional messages sent by others, and likely to be unreliable partners in games or work, as in this assessment by fellow students:

The preoccupied students—embroiled, angry, and incoherent when speaking about their parents—“were seen by their peers as more anxious, introspective, ruminative.” –Karen, p. 383

Since they require constant messages of reassurance, the preoccupied find it hard to venture away from their partners or loved ones to accomplish goals, and will undermine their partners if necessary to keep their attention for themselves. The classic clingy child or parent or partner is acting out their anxiety about abandonment:

[The preoccupied] are hypervigilant about separations, likely to become anxious or even panicky when left, and to be overcome by feelings of clinginess and impotent rage. They do not readily venture forth or take chances, for they do not believe their attachment needs will ever be met. They cling tenaciously to what they have, often using guilt and blame to keep their attachment figures on a short leash. –Karen, p. 385

Anxious [preoccupied] children learn to manipulate to get their needs met, and invariably their manipulations get carried over into adulthood. The child may become seductive or cute, act fretful, or make others feel guilty for not giving him the attention he wants, all depending on the what strategic styles are modeled or succeed in the family. –Karen, p. 399

In Hazan and Shaver’s study, preoccupied adults in a work setting “tended to procrastinate, had difficulty concentrating, and were most distracted by interpersonal concerns. They also had the lowest average income.” This inability to concentrate on anything but relationships handicaps the preoccupied, and makes them trouble for teams where they will put their need for reassurance ahead of the task at hand. As a team member, the preoccupied require more management time and attention, and produce less work.

In dating, the preoccupied put their best foot forward and try too hard, sometimes missing the subtle cues that would allow them to listen better to understand their partner’s feelings. They feel they must always prove themselves and act to keep your interest—they want constant interaction, constant touch and reassurance, which other types can find maddening. As long as they are getting the attention they want, they will let their partner get away with being difficult in other ways—even negative attention is keeping the touch game going. If their relationships last, it is often because they have found a partner whose insecurities dovetail with theirs, who will participate in a dysfunctional game similar to what they were raised with. While the preoccupied have strong feelings and can discuss them when calm, their feelings are centered around their needs for attention and the failures of others to provide it on demand. They commonly blame others for not understanding their feelings and needs while not feeling safe enough in the relationship to describe them openly. They want to merge with their partner, so this type is prone to codependence—a dysfunctional mutual dependence where neither partner matures further. They are profoundly disturbed by and resist even short separations. The single Preoccupied badly wants a partner and spends a lot of time feeling lonely.

The key to happier relationships for the anxious-preoccupied is working toward an inner feeling of security and independence. This is easier when a Secure partner is present — the reliability of the partner’s signalling and response reassures, letting inner security grow. But even the single Preoccupied can take a clue from their type label — they are preoccupied with the idea of a relationship. Getting involved with absorbing activities and friendships with others can take their mind off the problem of partner relationships. And self-coaching can help — replacing inner dialog about failings and worries about what others think of you with reassuring self-talk can help prevent overly-clingy and paranoid behavior that drives away significant others. Build confidence in yourself and your value by accomplishing real tasks, and try harder to see things from others’ point of view before acting on fears and anger about how they treat you. Soothe your own worries before they trouble others, and have more faith in their goodwill before you assume the worst.

My book, Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner, is more of an overview of attachment theory and its application to finding a good partner. The older popular book on the topic, Levine and Heller’s Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love, is an excellent self-help guide focused more on case studies, and especially on the problems of the anxious-preoccupied who are more likely than the other types to seek out self-help books.

One of the topics they discuss in detail is hypervigilance — the anxious-preoccupied are intensely focused on keeping track of the emotional state of desired partners:

[A study found that people] with an anxious attachment style are indeed more vigilant to changes in others’ emotional expression and can have a higher degree of accuracy and sensitivity to other people’s cues. However, this finding comes with a caveat. The study showed that people with an anxious attachment style tend to jump to conclusions very quickly, and when they do, they tend to misinterpret people’s emotional state. Only when the experiment was designed in such a way that anxious participants had to wait a little longer— they couldn’t react immediately when they spotted a change, but had to wait a little longer— and get more information before making a judgment did they have an advantage over other participants.

Hair-trigger misjudgments and mistakes are more likely with this group and can get them into trouble. The anxious-preoccupied should work toward taking the time to consider all the evidence before reacting negatively, so their fine sensitivity to others’ emotional states will serve them better.

The anxious-preoccupied will sometimes explain that they feel very strongly and so can’t help themselves when overreacting to perceived threats to their relationships. The real explanation for their paranoia is not so much the intensity of feeling, however, as it is their insecurity and lack of understanding and trust in others’ good intentions. Because they are so wrapped up in the fear of losing attention or affection, they don’t take the time to see matters from the point of view of their significant other and so blunder into misunderstandings and attempts to control their partner through protest behavior.

Levine and Heller describe this behavior well:

Once activated, they are often consumed with thoughts that have a single purpose: to reestablish closeness with their partner. These thoughts are called activating strategies. Activating strategies are any thoughts or feelings that compel you to get close, physically or emotionally, to your partner. Once he or she responds to you in a way that reestablishes security, you can revert back to your calm, normal self. Activating Strategies:

• Thinking about your mate, difficulty concentrating on other things.
• Remembering only their good qualities.
• Putting them on a pedestal: underestimating your talents and abilities and overestimating theirs.
• An anxious feeling that goes away only when you are in contact with them.
• Believing this is your only chance for love, as in: “I’m only compatible with very few people—what are the chances I’ll find another person like him/ her?,” or “It takes years to meet someone new; I’ll end up alone.”
• Believing that even though you’re unhappy, you’d better not let go, as in: “If she leaves me, she’ll turn into a great partner—for someone else,, or “He can change,” or “All couples have problems—we’re not special in that regard.”

Protest behavior is a term originally coined to describe children’s screams and cries when separated from their caregiver, now applied by analogy to adult attempts to display unhappiness with a lack of attention or responsiveness from partners. Some protest behavior is part of every relationship — “Hey! You said you’d text me when you got home.” But the clingy, insecure anxious-preoccupied protest so frequently they run the risk of turning off and driving away their partners. When someone is said to be “high maintenance,” that means they are excessively needy and need more communication and reassurance than is reasonable. Protest behaviors are intended to force a reassuring response from the partner — and resorting to them frequently is bad for any relationship.

Levine and Heller have a good list of Protest Behaviors:

• Calling, texting, or e-mailing many times, waiting for a phone call, loitering by your partner’s workplace in hopes of running into him/ her.
• Withdrawing: Sitting silently “engrossed” in the paper, literally turning your back on your partner, not speaking, talking with other people on the phone and ignoring him/her.
• Keeping score: Paying attention to how long it took them to return your phone call and waiting just as long to return theirs; waiting for them to make the first “make-up” move and acting distant until such time.
• Acting hostile: Rolling your eyes when they speak, looking away, getting up and leaving the room while they’re talking (acting hostile can transgress to outright violence at times).
• Threatening to leave: Making threats—“ We’re not getting along, I don’t think I can do this anymore,” “I knew we weren’t really right for each other,” “I’ll be better off without you”—all the while hoping [partner] will stop you from leaving.
• Manipulations: Acting busy or unapproachable. Ignoring phone calls, saying you have plans when you don’t.
• Making him/ her feel jealous: Making plans to get together with an ex for lunch, going out with friends to a singles bar, telling your partner about someone who hit on you today.

If you’re anxious-preoccupied and having trouble coping with a dismissive- or fearful-avoidant spouse, I’ve just published a book on the topic: Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner. Right now available from Amazon Kindle for $3.99, and a trade paperback is also available.


The Latest from Jeb Kinnison:


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, available now in Kindle and trade paperback.] The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of Death by HR

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat…. It is time to turn the tide against this madness and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


Other posts of interest:

Changing Your Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style or Type
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Limerence vs. Love
Anxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
“Bad Boyfriends” – Useful for Improving Current Relationships
Controlling Your Inner Critic
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Do the Anxious-Preoccupied Dream (More) of Love?
Attachment Type Combinations in Relationships

Kate and Anna McGarrigle with Linda Ronstadt — “Heart Like a Wheel”

For more on the other attachment types:

Type: Secure
Next: Type: Dismissive-Avoidant
Type: Fearful-Avoidant

Further Reading

My book, Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner, goes into greater detail on how the anxious-preoccupied can find more security and avoid driving away good partners.

I haven’t finished reading it, but the new book Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy, and Worried and What You Can Do About It appears to be a good resource for the anxious-preoccupied.

Dr. John Gottman’s book (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work) is a great guide on how to strive for secure attachment with your partner when you are insecure.

Love and Addiction by Peele and Brodsky is an older but still valuable self-help book for those who have an unhealthy addiction to the idea of being “in love.” For hints on how to look for a healthy relationship if you tend to be anxious-preoccupied, this blog post by Shepell is valuable: “Forming Healthy Relationships with an Anxious Attachment Style.” Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Levine and Heller has a lot of good advice for the preoccupied.

Note: Because there are already too many comments on this page, if you want to comment, I’d recommend you start a thread at the forum instead of commenting on this page. Go to Jeb Kinnison Boards: Anxious-Preoccupied.

36 comments

  1. This article was very informative and eye-opening. I’m currently having issues with a friend of mine who fits this anxious-preoccupied attachment style. My style is securely attached, until she starts trying to push for something from me.. then I tend to exhibit what I’ve been reading may be the “dismissive-avoidant” style when I feel she is pressuring me. I start resenting her, her neediness, and her anxiety-driven attachment. It feels desperate, urgent, and suffocating to me and I just want to hide from her.

    It angers me because all this want to “be closer to me” is not truly about appreciating me as a friend, or loving me, or wanting me around because she loves who I am… it’s all about her wants and needs. It’s about her comfort and her satiation. It starts feeling like assumptions, expectations, and pressure and I just want to run in the opposite direction.

    I’ve recently been transparent and extremely honest with her about this. In the beginning, I was afraid all of this would hurt her, and so I tried to just subtly distance myself. That didn’t work — she clung tighter. I then tried gently crafting the truth — sugarcoating, if you will. “Your neediness is triggering my anxiety, and I’m unhappy” became “I just need my space right now, could you please respect that?” As you can guess, that didn’t work… she became confused and felt I was putting up walls and pushing her away.

    Things blew out of control when I accepted my friends’ plans to travel out of out town for New Year’s… she accused me of deliberately leaving her out of my plans, when I was not the one who initiated the trip. And even if I had been the one planning, now she is assuming she’s naturally be a part of my New Year’s plans?! How presumptuous and irritating. I could see if she’d expressed a bit of sadness or said “Gee, that sounds fun, wish I could have gone too”… that would have been easier to stomach. But instead, it’s rage and accusations from her, like it was something that she was naturally entitled to and was then denied access to.

    I have had over 15 years of friendship with her, and I do truly care about her. We’ve always had this issue of her chasing and clinging, and me pushing away and distancing. It’s just become more exacerbated now (I think) because we’ve spent more time together in the last 6 months than I ever had. Boundaries started to erode, she started making assumptions, started clinging tighter… and then I explicitly asked for what I need — boundaries. I changed the dynamic of our friendship for the first time in our history and it is not sitting well with her.

    I get it, I do… I know this change is scary to her. She wants things to go back to how they were when she was happy and by my side almost every weekend, having someone listen to all the thoughts going through her head, counseling her with her problems, giving her reassurance, taking her to fun places and introducing her to different people. She was having the time of her life.

    I take responsibility for not being explicit and speaking up once I felt my boundaries were being crossed — but I just didn’t know how to tell her. It was a tool I was lacking at the time.
    I’ve written her a very detailed letter spelling all this out for her, but I don’t know if she has read it or what her reaction will be. I’m hoping we can be friends, but I don’t know if it will be possible. I don’t want to do this song and dance with her for the rest of our friendship. I guess I’m just venting, but I am also wondering if there is something I’m missing here. I am clear on what I want and need, but I am not sure if she will want to have a friendship with limitations and boundaries.

    I hope my story can help someone else out there who is going through the same thing feel less alone… maybe it can give some perspective to a person who is clinging to their friend. Thanks for reading.

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    1. Hey I just read your comment and would like to talk to you maybe. I’m anxious pre occupied and have recently came to terms with it and am realizing the effects it has had on my relationship which may soon end and I would like some other advice from someone on the other side with out making it worse on my boyfriend. I’m realizing things a little from both sides of us and it’s been amazing and relieving and is definitely helped me grow some from learning so much about my attachment problem. I’m loving learning more about myself and the why to the things and problems and fights and behavior I’ve had.

      So if youd like to talk to me some so I can better understand and get some advice from your side, I’d greatly appreciate it. 🙂

      Like

  2. This is interesting and definetly me – athough only effects me in intimate relationships, ie with my boyfriend not just friends.
    Feel totally insecure and clingy with the man Im in love with but not at all with close friends. Feel weak and out of control with him yet strong and in control in friendships….
    Its bizarre and confusing!
    I really dont want to drive him away but I feel this is what I am doing and Its not want I want to do……………

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    1. I am a 35 yo man and I have always been anxious preoccupied. When I was 18 I even threw up a few items out of fear. One time it was because my girl friend was happy to see me and I was at a big party. I felt soooooooo not worthy of the task of deserving her it was like I just got hit in the gut. The other times were very similar.

      The only peace I can get is when I’m single, which I have spent years being that way. Though I’m usually pining after someone who is not available. I had spent 5-6 years in my 20’s being so in love with someone who broke up with me and not being able to let her go.

      The only thing that makes me feel safe and relaxed while in the relationship is a physical declaration of love (touching/sex) or a verbal declaration, which I want daily/multiple times a day.

      I’m 6’2″ very attractive/fun/funny/successful/intelligent/popular/athletic. I’ve been with the hottest girls. Many woman have told me that They love me like no other, and so many great compliments. I’m saying all that to say that this defect doesn’t make any sense!! The preoccupation and fear is so strong that I am almost daily keeping my self from breaking up with her (any of them). Like I have this assumption that if I am not there to keep things safe and manage it all then then its going to fall apart and she’s going to secretly cheat

      I’m always so focused on being super super close with my partner. I will do anything for them.

      I guess I just crushingly feel unlovable inside. Its like I need to cry real big but don’t know how. I know its dumb. That is the crazy part. This whole mess doesn’t feel intellectual. It doesn’t make sense. Its more like this feeling within me that drives up from within and I can’t stop it.

      I will literally worry about an event that is coming up next year because it might put me in a situation where i feel vulnerable to be cheated on. She says she loves me but I just feel like at any point it could go away. There is no safety. Its reeeeaaaaallly hard when I want to goto bed and she wants to stay up. I go to bed but I can’t sleep, my heart just pounds, and I wait for her to come up so I can relax.

      I also spend a lot of time doing retroactive jealousy where I am thinking about my partners sexual past. i want to know everything. I know logically its ok whatever she did, I have a past too. But I just have to know and and am so worried about it.

      Jealousy is so weird I can feel insecure about anything she likes, like everything is a threat to me.

      It all just makes me want to run away so badly. Its so hard. She just wants me to feel safe and loved and I can only for a very short time.

      Please give me advice!

      Thank you,

      -R

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      1. Early conditioning — usually some kind of emotional trauma — can leave you with a permanent attachment disability, and yours is quite severe, since you can’t control your anxieties even when you’re well aware of what’s going on.

        Nothing I say here is going to be of much help. I hope you seek out a good therapist who will work with you on a variety of treatments — you may well benefit from both CBT and some anti-OCD medication to temporarily break the cycle. You’re lucky you have so many attractive qualities, because your need to control and your fear would normally drive people away.

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    1. Since in-person therapy is very localized, there’s no easy way to find one that understands attachment issues. Some calling around and free initial appointments help. There’s this directory, useful in big cities: https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/ — but many good therapists aren’t in it. Then there are issues of paying yourself or insurance coverage, which tends to steer you to the less capable ones that aren’t fully booked.

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  3. Sounds exactly like me, a female insecure you!! Can be tough hey… Will we eve get to the point of accepting that pure amazing love we have or will we drive them away? 😳

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  4. Thanks for responding. It makes me feel good knowing there is someone else like me. Maybe we could talk more about how we feel and what that is like?

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  5. Hi, I can relate very closely to the Anxious-Preoccupied Type. I’m just now learning about Attachment Theory and was turned on to it inadvertently by reading the book ‘Why You Do the Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships’ by Clinton/Sibcy. This book focuses on the thought process of why we think a certain way. I am not finished with it yet, but I Googled ‘anxious insecure style’ which brought me to this website.

    I’m a 36 y/o male going through somewhat of an early midlife crisis. I’ve been happily married for over ten years and have two wonderful children.

    Over the past year I have grown extremely jealous of my wife’s past relationships. My story is quite a bit different from ‘R’s’ story above as I, myself, was unattractive for most of my life. I was obese and very insecure with women. Not only was I a virgin when I met my wife, I had not been in a long-term romantic relationship as she had. When I was 19 I had lost 80lbs. and was thus able to attract the opposite sex more. Due to religious and cultural upbringing I had decided to remain a virgin until I was married. This seemed very easy for me when I was overweight and single. After I lost the weight and started dating, I had opportunities to lose my virginity, but with each person I was dating, I found something about them that made them not be “Mrs. Right”. However, as soon as I met my wife, I latched on and never let go.

    She had broken up with her long-term boyfriend one-week before meeting me. She was one of my best friends sister so I was well aware of her for years before actually meeting/dating her. I had always considered her “out of my league”. When she showed interest in me, I was hooked from the start. Once we started dating, I was predominantly the one insisting to take our relationship to the next level. I wanted her to commit to dating only me (which she complied). I wanted to tell her “I love you” after about three months together. It was almost an inside joke because she knew it was on the tip of my tongue but I was refraining because I didn’t want to say it without her reciprocating (e.g. rejection). I’ll never forget the moment she said it because I acted surprised and elated and immediately responded. We used to laugh about this moment but now I see it as an insecure gesture on my part.

    We had discussed my virginity and her sexual past in significant detail. I was intrigued about all the details I could pry from her. I only decided last week that I should not have asked about specifics. Up until that point I thought it was better that I knew as much info as possible.

    While we were dating I had justified breaking my vow/values and sleeping with her. I said to myself “this is the woman I’m going to marry. why shouldn’t we be making love?” Now, I see that I used her past promiscuity as a justification for myself to sleep with her. In some ways this objectified her and I repressed my jealous feelings of her past for years. It would come up occasionally but typically it would be a passing thought and I would calm my anxious fears and worries and move on. We dated for six months, I proposed, and we were married a year after we started dating.

    Flash forward to this past year. Looking back this year I was trying to identify why I had become so obsessed with my wife’s past relationships. Moreover, why/how I could compare her past dating relationships to the decade-long, loving, committed marriage we have been in? I could only relate it to my inner reflection of the projected image of how I thought our relationship and sex life should be.

    I noticed that certain “triggers” would set-off my vivid, disturbing imagination of my wife having amazing, sensual sex with her former partners even though, from the information she provided me and the reassurance she constantly gave/gives me, I am and was her greatest lover (obviously something I would ask her and not something she would just come out and confess). However, my inner thoughts continued to haunt me. I will not go into detail as to keep this anonymous for both my sake (I am truly embarrassed of my thoughts and actions the past year) and my wife’s sake and because I don’t feel it benefits my post. Let’s just say that, for example, hearing about certain geographical locations or seeing Hollywood movies that I knew they saw together would throw me into a hot mess of jealousy, disgust, and anxiety. It got so bad that I couldn’t even watch home movies of my family during the period when my wife started having sex up until the point we met each other. I found that watching home movies of myself was so sad and depressing because before my wife I had not known true love. I looked at myself as naive and stupid because I would tell myself that while I’m laughing and having fun on camera with my family, my wife was probably having carnal, raunchy sex with her boyfriend not far from my location. Can you believe how disturbing and ridiculous my thoughts were?

    Reading about thought process and attachment theory is a bit confusing for me. When I read about the confusing and selfish attachment that parents of the anxious-preoccupied people exhibited, I cannot relate. My parents have been married to only each other for over 30 years. I didn’t grow up in an abusive or chaotic home. My relationship with my mother was especially great and I have no qualms about the way she raised me. My father was extremely affectionate for a man. He and I even pecked kisses on lips up until I met my wife! I can say that my father was somewhat of an insecure person as he did appear very needy at times but never to me (his kids), it was always shown to my mother. I don’t remember thinking that my parent’s love for me was conditional in any sense. I remember always feeling that they loved me unconditionally. For what it’s worth, I was always very open to my parents about my life. I remember one instance where I tried chewing tobacco in high school and became ill. I called my dad to pick me up and take me home. I told him on the way home that I got sick because I had tried dipping. My dad said “are you going to try that again?” My response, “no”. That was a perfect example of the intimacy I shared with my parents.

    The only clear reason of why I think I became anxious-preoccupied type is my experience with the opposite sex growing up. Ever since I was a child I looked forward to the day I would be married and have children. As a man this can seem somewhat paradoxical to the societal norms of the traditional male attitude toward relationships (i.e. play the field, sow your oats, etc.). I remember never attracting the opposite sex while in high school. I used to think I had fun in high school with my friends, but looking back now I see it as a sad, lonely existence. I remember trying to court several girls only to find myself rejected and embarrassed. Once I lost the weight and started attracting women, I figured I would finally meet my wife. I dated a handful of women and each time the short-lived relationship ended (one or two dates) I remember crying myself to sleep asking God “why have thou forsaken me?” I knew that I was the nicest guy any of these women had ever dated. I was convinced that being “nice” only showed signs of weakness. I was on the verge of emotional collapse by the time I met my wife.

    To her, my niceness and emotional intensity was a huge breath of fresh air. We both remember that while we were dating I would sometimes gaze at her while she was performing something like cooking or homework on the computer. I would look longingly at her and began to tear up with joy that she was sitting in my presence because she wanted to be. I was careful not to do anything that would turn her away. I had to keep her at all costs because this was my last chance. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her and still love her with every fiber of my being, but it was conditional. If I fulfilled her needs, she would forever fill mine. It didn’t help that I found her to be one of the most attractive people I had ever met so I had always wondered if she was only in the relationship because I was “marriage material”. How could she not think I would be committed to her the rest of our lives when I would shower her with so much affection and admiration.

    I could go on and on, but this post is too long as it is. I guess I’m writing this comment to share with you that, while the anxious-preoccupied type is more traditionally seen as a female type (e.g. most examples given paint “her” as the insecure partner), I can assure you that I have never seen a more mirrored personality type to me than the anxious-preoccupied person. I am hopeful that this can set me on the path to healing so that I can finally become secure in my relationships.

    I know that this isn’t a religious blog, but I can say that losing my relationship with God has been a significant trigger as well. I’m finally starting to understand that God desires a relationship with me. Relying on God as the center relationship in my life will only help me grow more secure in my other relationships.

    Thank you for posting this. Good luck to all those out there like me.

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    1. Dude you are so awesome for sharing all of this. “Can you believe how disturbing and ridiculous my thoughts were?” Hell yea I can. I bet I’ve literally thought everything you have in this regard. I can really identify with not being able to enjoy movies or things like that without feeling threatened because they remind you of stuff she “did”. lol like if I knew she worked in a particular place at a time when I knew she was having sex with other men (way before us). I get triggered by mention of a place in that same genre.

      I feel better knowing others go through this too.

      I bet some people are hung up in this same mannor when it comes to their death. I luckily am not. I’m not obsessed with it, I think because I don’t take death personally.

      I am taking “her sexual past” personally and torturing my self with it.

      Here is a curveball. My partner and I have even had roughly the same number of partners, 15. It dosen’t make me feel better, because my fear based mind will just imagine that her number is really a little bit higher ya know?

      When we are in that fear state we can ruin anything.

      For me the best bet is to go “yea that sucks that I’m not god, and this girl wasn’t put on this planet for me.” Thats prolly something that trips you up. A sense of owning. I think its natural for men to feel that way sometimes.

      IDK. I want to chat more, but I have to run!

      -R

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  6. R,

    Thanks for responding. I would like to keep in contact with you so we can bounce off each others’ struggles, if you’re up for it. I really think I’m on the path to healing but I know this will be a challenge for me for a long time. I mean, I know we’re in different life stages (e.g. I’m married and your single), but we’re both the same age and we’re both men.

    With regards to retroactive jealousy, I’ve always thought that this problem affects men and women differently. Many like to lump us all in the same bucket, but, generally speaking, men and women see sex differently.

    There’s so much more I can share and write about, but if you’re wanting to communicate more, please feel free to email me at airman69@mail.com.

    Thanks again for replying and good luck to you.

    P.

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