We're only as needy as our unmet needs.
1. You will experience this relating style as an insecure fear that warns you that your dearly beloved is about to desert you or at least not be there for you. You may fear that disconnection with your beloved is happening. You are a connector, and can get upset if connection is threatened. In terms of the Control Drama Triangle, you will probably identify a tendency to be a Rescuer of others, but may feel a Victim to your partner. Their preferred Persecutor behaviours are to criticise or blame.
2. A common response to the fear of being unimportant, unseen or of no consequence to your partner is to pursue her/him for engagement. If this is unsuccessful, your emotions may ramp up into frustration or anger. You are now a pursuer desperately seeking connection.
3. Whether or not this has been true in the past is immaterial, this inner fear will ring all the warning bells nonetheless. This fear of separation, abandonment or aloneness can arise at any time. It may haunt you as your beloved heads off to work, goes out for an evening, if he's going to be away for a day or two, and most certainly if he goes off in a huff after an argument, or emotionally disconnects.
4. Once this fear and anxiety, more commonly found in women than men, has got a grip on you emotionally, it may then manipulate your mind and convince you that disaster is on the way. This pattern of catastrophizing can convince you of the most absurd porkies, but because the whole process is emotionally based, it will feel true nonetheless.
5. About the time that this drama is going on emotionally and taking its toll on your energy it makes its most potent strike. Knowing that you are wanting this connection to another safe, supportive, reliable, loving person, your inability to get that safe and secure feeling can cause you to feel despairing, anxious or angry. For some, there is also the fear of rejection or abandonment, sometimes to the point where there is no support within you even for yourself
6. Because you probably did not fully and sufficiently internalize a self-support system in childhood, the lack of external support now causes a deep fear within you that no-one will be there for you.
7. The truth is, the child part of you was never assured that an adult would be there for you those many years ago, and so when there's no adult there once again, your inner child fears the abandonment/rejection/oversight/deprioritization she experienced as a child. Not only that, this needy inner child may leave you feeling abandoned because she has never learned to be self-supportive and sufficiently self-caring.
8. This is how this pattern of relating begins. When during childhood an adult lends emotional support to a child, the child internalizes this experience and is able to support self in the way she experienced it being done to her, using the internalized version of the support that was modelled by the adult those many years ago.
9. This is what gives rise to a secure attachment, a feeling that all is OK even when the boat is being rocked. So what happens when someone who was insufficiently supported in childhood, where connections, care and communication were often not there when needed, becomes an adult? The adult will now not have this built-in support process kicking into place when left alone to deal with life's dramas.
10. The adult will therefore experience anxiety or loneliness when a partner distances himself, or in some way backs off and withdraws his ability to connect and be intimate or caring.
11. The result is a feeling of emptiness inside, a cavernous lonely experience where there is no part of self able to offer support when the chips are down and others are unavailable. This may not be evident until sufficient emotional exploration has taken place.
12. Often the anxious insecure adult interprets this withdrawing as something wrong with self. This feeling that "I'm wrong" is common, and can be associated with strong self-criticism or judgment. In childhood, and now as an adult this person may experience themselves as in some way wrong for simply being who they are.
13. In some, this may plunge the anxious insecure person into a tail-spin, where they spiral into a deep hole of pain – serious pain – of hurt, fear, despair, aloneness or hopelessness. This can be a truly appalling experience, and one which only other anxious insecure people would fully understand.
14. Of course, the natural reaction when in this state is to reach out and grasp for support – any support. This person reaches out, thinking that their salvation lies in having another to cling to. However, this clinging is unattractive to others, and so there is a risk that their strong desire for connection will eventually be rejected, especially if the person they want to cling to is an avoidant insecure personality.
15. The anxious insecure individual may get so overwhelmingly anxious that they chase after their partner, wanting to resolve any differences at all costs. If the partner backs off, the anxious insecure person may feel even more desperate, possibly lashing out verbally, or in some cases, physically. High levels of frustration or anger are common at this point.
16. It is also common for this person to feel hurt by their partner's avoidant, disinterested or insensitive behaviour. This may leave them feeling hurt, which over time can turn to resentment and finally frustration or even anger and rage.
17. Alternatively, the anxious insecure person gives up on receiving any help, from self or others, and disappears into an emotional black hole, commonly dissolving into floods of tears and pulling away, feeling that their situation is hopeless.
18. Even when their need to cling is not intense, this anxious insecure person will want to talk everything over - sometimes often and endlessly - with their partner (or anyone else), because they are not used to using a totally internal process for dealing with stress or distress. Some partners will hear this as 'nagging' or at best, an unrelenting need to talk – again and again.
19. To an avoidant insecure person (who is more often than not their partner), this seems unnecessary, time consuming, illogical, energy draining, and therefore a frustrating process to have to go through. So their partner may have no idea how to support the anxious insecure person's unmet needs which originate in the need to connect and share their life meaningfully.
20. Furthermore, the innate desire of this anxious-to-connect type is for connection, harmony, approval, cooperation, security, respect, understanding and validation – and whatever needs they most missed out on in childhood. They want to be a team player with collegial decision-making.
21. The anxious insecure person is seeking externally what they struggle to do for themselves - connect inwardly. Self-care and self-soothing from self or other will help, but prioritizing support for their own needs is essential but often something they've learned not to do. Such attention to self may seem anathema to this person who empathizes well with, and consequently usually prioritizes the needs of others, ahead of self.
22. If connection and intimacy can't be found satisfactorily, the anxious insecure person will seek it through friends, internet social connection sites, clubs or other social connections. However, the concern and discomfort with one's beloved will not go away, like a nagging even nauseous discomfort.
23. The anxiously insecure person will tend to find themselves thrown into emotions such as hurt, despair, fear, upset, aloneness, hopelessness, helplessness, or powerlessness quite quickly or possibly quite often. This may escalate into resentment, bitterness, frustration and anger. These emotions may last for days.
24. Crying is a common response for anxious insecure personalities, and this could be in response to hurt, shame, anxiety, happiness, concern for others, empathy for others or for fears of what must be done next. It is essential for this attachment type to know that this is normal and not to be judgmental of self because of it.
25. Avoidants may be perplexed by and possibly judgmental of this common response of anxious insecure types to many situations. However it is a natural way for an emotionally sensitive individual to respond to life, and is best seen as a strength (which it often is because it responds to and/or creates connection) and not a weakness, even if crying can at times kick in at inconvenient moments.
26. It may not only be difficult to support self when dealing with afflictive emotions, but the relationship event with partner that created this emotional free fall will (probably inaccurately) be perceived through the lens of childhood wounding. This will tend to distort the reality of the situation, so that their partner may struggle to tune in to, understand, or respond appropriately to the anxious insecure person's perspective.
27. Largely because of these background experiences, the anxious insecure person may see themselves as unimportant, a monster, childish, ugly, demanding, needy, inconvenient, overly sensitive, too much, flawed, a burden, unlovable, or over-reactive. One or many of these may seem valid. They may see their partner as withholding, withdrawing, distant, disinterested, cold, uncaring, controlling, dominating, bossy, patronizing, too busy, always right, or unavailable.
28. There is a risk of blaming the relationship (or partner) for these wounds and patterning, yet it's important to see that these would arise in almost any close relationship, not just this one.
29. If the partner is an avoidant insecure person, they are likely to want to rationalize the situation, while the anxious insecure person will generally want to have their feelings heard, reflected and validated. It is this mismatching of perceptual experience that leads to a high percentage of conflicts between the anxious and avoidant styles.
30. Rationally discussing the situation will therefore probably not work well for the anxious insecure person whilst feelings are running high. There is too much emotional static for this style of person to engage in reason whilst upset.
31. The way ahead for the anxious insecure person, is to firstly recognize these patterns, then own and non-judgmentally accept them, then express their unmet needs that relate to how they are feeling. They may struggle to appreciate that their partner won't otherwise understand them.
32. Secondly, they must recognize the need to provide from within the connection, approval, understanding and validation they seek from another. This can only be done by connecting to their emotions and/or negative beliefs about self, tuning in to self, and owning, accepting, understanding, validating and/or forgiving self. This requires a reflective, contemplative, time-consuming period of just sitting with what is happening within, and patiently recognizing whatever needs are present, and then meeting these by caring for self.
33. While their habitual tendency will be to reach out and want someone else's validation and attention, it is only by giving this to self that healing can finally become complete, and they will slowly then become less needy of others.
34. A partner who can provide this initially through quality listening will help the anxious insecure person down the path of supporting and caring for self. Once the anxious insecure person understands (non-judgmentally – essential to stop ‘wronging’ self) how they function, they can ask for a partner's support, listening ear, patience as they express their feelings, and acceptance that they are a predominantly feeling person, especially when an emotional situation arises.
35. Sometimes this anxious insecure person talks more than their partner can cope with. Their anxiety tends to encourage excessive story-telling which their partners may struggle with. Concise sharing of how they are feeling will work better, as will inviting their partners to accept those feelings as a true expression of oneself.
36. In summary the challenge for an anxious insecure person, then, is to connect with self, and express their feelings and needs in a way that their partner can hear. Their need is not to rely on external connection (which may seem will work best), but to connect with, honour, respect, value, and accept self, and then express requests for support.
37. Their need from others is for understanding and acceptance of their journey; to hear and accept their feelings and what these are saying, and to be there in support of this painful and on-going inner journey, without any attempt to fix it. This must be communicated and explained clearly to any partner, because most non-anxious insecure people will not understand what to do to help unless told.