Dating for individuals with an anxious attachment style can be tricky.
And if you follow the standard women dating literature, chances are that you are setting yourself up for pain and failure.
But don’t worry, by the end of this article, you will know how you can date well as an anxious person.
I will write this article from the woman’s perspective because statistically it’s more likely you’re a woman. But this article applies to both genders.
- Anxious Dating Needs
- Why Anxious Should Be Straightforward
- Effective Dating For Anxious Types
Anxious Dating Needs
In short, this is what an anxious need from dating:
They need intimacy but are afraid of showing their need for intmacy while at the same fearing that their partner does not want them.
With this premise, the dating literature is not helpful for anxious daters.
As a matter of fact, the common dating advice is dangeorus for anxious types.
If you have been reading any dating books for women, you will realize that most of the most popular ones can be boiled down to very few tenets they all repeat:
- Show less interest than he does
- Be unavailable
- Pretend you don’t want a relationship
Amir Levine in his seminal book on attachment styles though righteously points out that’s a very bad strategy for anyone with an anxious attachment style.
Indeed, you should do the opposite of what the dating literature recommends.
Why Anxious Should Be Straightforward
Scarcity is a known principle that makes us want more of whatever is scarce (Cialdini).
So, in principle, it also works in dating (but with important exceptions).
However, it doesn’t work too well for the anxious attachment style for the following reasons:
1. Common dating advice attracts avoidant partners
When you act like you don’t want and don’t need intimacy, guess who will be comfortable with you?
Of course you will attract partners who want distance
It’s much better instead to show your true colors early on.
When you demand for the intimacy you need right from the beginning it’s more likely you will find out early if the person you are dating can accommodate you or not.
You want to weed out as soon as possible emotionally unavailable men and avoidant men (with which you would form the terrible anxious avoidant trap).
2. When you feign disinterest he decides the level of intimacy (without you having a say)
Guess what happens when you don’t demand what you need?
The other party decides it for you.
The common dating advice is to never show interest so that he will show lots of interest, chase you and seek more intimacy with you.
That might “work”, sometimes, if you meet a guy who chases a lot and wants to see you a lot.
But there is a huge problem with that.
And the problem is that you never get to know the real him, and you risk wasting a lot of time with someone who is not a good fit.
Worst of all, if you meet an avoidant, then you are allowing him to get his cake and eat it too.
Basically, he can enjoy intimacy when together and then drop off the radar for as long as he wants.
What’s the alternative?
The alternative is that you date more honestly and more respectfully of you needs. Ask and demand how much you expect of him, so that you can quickly assess if you are compatible.
3. Fake beginnings mean future troubles
Dating is a bit like weighing each other up at the beginning.
And assessing for compatibility.
It’s normal everyone tries to be in their best behavior.
But if being on your best behavior means behaving the opposite of who you are and what you need… Then it’s more likely you will end up in all the wrong relationships.
By all means, show yourself at your best because your partner does the same.
But don’t behave the opposite of what you want and need. If you have an anxious attachment style, pretending that you don’t care is self-defeating.
I can guarantee you that playing the “feigning disinterest game” is self-defeating from personal experience. One of my girlfriend was hiding her avoidant personality.
It was awesome in the beginning.
She fell in love, I fell in love… And then the train-wreck. Her demands were too much for me. She was an anxious, I was an avoidant.
Had she been honest from the start we’d have saved time and hearts.
3. Fakeness smells
When you act, you act.
And you can only act for so much and so long before cracks will start to appear. I can tell you as much as an avoidant myself and I could often see the games sometimes girls were playing.
From the random phone call of her waiting for the bus that, guess what, stops in front of my place to the text message complaining how busy she is to that forced reminder that “no, she doesn’t think of me that often”.
Guys with a bit of experience can see through that.
4. Lower self esteem
When we act contrary to our feelings and value, our self esteem tanks (read ego and self esteem). And you don’t want that.
Low self esteem is also the breeding ground for abusive relationships.
Effective Dating For Anxious Types
And here’s how an anxious attachment style can get better at dating.
1. Accept Your Needs
In 7 biggest mistakes women do in early dating I mentioned an ex girlfriend of mine who always fought her needs for intimacy trying to appear stronger.
But that’s not strong, that’s weak.
Most anxious attachment style types indeed often feel the pressure of society -and feminism- on being more independent-.
But why should you listen to what others tell you to value?
But most importantly, it’s only by getting what you need that you can grow more emotionally stable.
Studies indeed show that when an anxious meets a secure partner who can provide reassurance, they become less anxious.
Yes you read that right.
The best way to cure anxious attachment is by getting intimacy. Not by trying to repress it.
There is a partner out there who enjoys exactly the same things. No need to change yourself (when it’s not needed).
2. Show Your True Colors
Once you accept yourself, it’s time to also show your true self.
As usual, the virtue is often in the middle.
If you feel you need to hug someone tight the very first time you meet them, well… That you might want to resist. And save it for at least until the first date has been going on for a few hours :).
3. Express your needs
If you’ve been dating for a while and need the relationship to move to the next gear, whatever that means for you, state it.
As Steve Harvey says, demands are often a sign of high quality.
4. Find a Secure Partner
Anxious partners become less anxious when they date a secure partner.
Try to date a secure partner.
Understanding your needs and attachment style is the very first step to dating well as an anxious (take the quiz if you’re not sure that’s you).
The anxious attachment style is the one that has to be more careful when it comes to dating as it’s the style with the biggest needs.
As a man recovering from an avoidant attachment I can tell you that too many women wasted time and heartache on me.
And they’d avoided that with a more direct communication and by showing their true selves earlier.
Heed these suggestions and you’ll be on your way to much better and fulfilling relationships.