Growing up, I always knew I was a bit of an anxious person – I really cared about what my teachers, parents, and friends thought about me. I always wanted everything to be perfect, and luckily for me, I was pretty good at being pretty good. But when life didn’t go the way I’d planned, I was wracked with anxiety. Even had a few panic attacks back in the day.
At the age of 36, I was still single. I had been going to a therapist to “talk it out” – what is so wrong with me that I can’t find someone to love me the way I deserve? My therapist would assure me that there was nothing wrong with me; I had a lot of really wonderful traits, as was evidenced by my many friendships, good jobs, and close relationship with my family. I had been going to see this therapist for six years, so I trusted that she knew me pretty darn well.
Then, one day, she suggested a book for me to read titled, Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love. This suggestion came after another failed relationship where I went crying to her office, “Why can’t I find love?!” This time was different, though; this guy was really attached to me, a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced…like ever? And I didn’t like it. He was clingy. He made plans for the next date before the date we were on was even finished, and not in the “that’s so romantic” way, but in the, “that’s so annoying” way. It was like he was trying to sink his claws into me.
Turns out, this guy had an anxious attachment style. Turns out, I too, have an anxious attachment style, but his was on mega-drive (or so it seemed to me). He was the ME in every failed relationship I’d had before. The ones where I was totally into them, and they were totally just like okay with me. The ones where if I didn’t get a text message back within in hour, I was certain I’d be getting the “I’m just not that into you” text or the fade into the background.
This anxiousness has always been around, it’s always been in my relationships from as early as I can remember. Attachment styles are supposedly something you pick up from your parents and your early relationships. And while that may be the case scientifically, factually for my life, I think it was also caused by bad relationships. Ones where I’d be into a guy and he’d ghost me, or he’d say he liked me and then faded away, or we’d get hot and heavy and he’d tell me he wasn’t looking for something serious. I have gotten my little heart broken a bunch of times. Like a lot. And it’s because I put myself into relationships and allow my little heart to get broken. But, if I didn’t do that, how would I ever find REAL love?
Well, turns out, it’s okay to be vulnerable and allow yourself to feel something for someone, even if it’s a lot of times. But it’s really not okay to do that so many times with people who have an avoidant attachment style (hint: that was just about every guy I ever dated). And even if I did date someone with a secure attachment style, I didn’t know enough about myself to explain what I needed from them. I needed assurance. Constantly.
And I still do. This is not something I’m going to get over. And this anxious attachment style, is not something I’m magically going to turn secure…unless it’s with someone who is secure…and is with someone I can explain who I am and how I feel. Because I feel a lot. And this secure person, has to be understanding, and maybe even welcome, that I may be a little bit anxious. Or even a lotta bit anxious at times.
So, here I am, about a year after reading this book. About a year after figuring out who I am and why I tick the way I tick. I’ve been on a few dates with a guy who is really great. Seems secure in a lot of ways, not sure yet if he’s secure in the attachment style kind of way yet. It’s too soon to tell. And now I need to tell this guy that I need some assurance. I am terrified. What if he is avoidant and runs away? What if he’s secure, but wants nothing to do with a person who’s anxious? This is the first time I’ve had to admit to someone who I am and what I need. I am terrified.
He also hasn’t answered my text from 10am, so you know, there’s that. It’s why I’m writing this down. Instead of messaging him again, I’m writing it down. I’m trying to deal with it on my own and not out loud with him quite yet. Next time I seem him, though (there will be a next time, right?!), I have to explain. And then hope that he doesn’t run away. And that he accepts me for who I am. I am anxious.