Do you get close to people too fast?
Without much time, you’re deeply connected. Maybe you know it’s too soon, but you just can’t stop the feelings.
When you like someone, you might pour all your love and emotions into them. After a while though, you realize it was too soon.
Getting attached too easily can be a symptom of an anxious attachment style. While knowing that helps, even more useful is what you can do about it.
Learn about your anxious attachment style and why dating multiple people can help.
What are Attachment Styles?
Getting attached easily has a lot to do with our attachment style.
When we talk about attachment styles, we’re really discussing the way we bond with others. Do we attach easily? Are we more comfortable alone? Are we nervous they’ll leave us?
Originally, attachment theory was used to describe the ways babies connect with their mothers. Based on research, psychologists came up with three styles:
- Secure — A stable attachment created by dependable, safe parents. These babies are more confident in the world.
- Anxious — Difficulty separating from parents. These babies tend to cry and be clingy.
- Avoidant — An estranged attachment. These babies care less about bonding with parents or may have mixed reactions.
Over time, researchers began adapting these styles into adult attachment theory. This can be used to describe the way we bond with friends, family members, co-workers, and romantic partners.
Although it can change, studies find our attachment style as babies tend to stay the same into adulthood. If we grow up with stable parents, we’ll form a secure attachment and will be more likely to have healthy, stable relationships. If we grow up with an insecure attachment (anxious or avoidant), we’ll be more likely to cling to or repel relationships.
Anxious Attachment Styles Attach Faster
If you attach to people easily and have a hard time letting them go, consider whether you have an anxious attachment style.
Research says that people with anxious attachment styles can relate to the following questions:
- Are others reluctant to get as close to you as you’d want?
- Do you worry people don’t really love you?
- Do you worry your friends or partners will leave you?
- Do you feel your need to be close sometimes scares people away?
If you have an anxious attachment style, you might feel like you’re always chasing love. Despite having a lot to give, nobody seems to want it for a long period of time. When you find a partner who truly loves you, you probably still have anxiety. You question whether their feelings are true and if they’ll eventually leave you.
Although you crave closeness, you might find yourself in relationships with distant partners. Or, you might have several short-term partners. This could be because your love can come off as too clingily or overbearing. When the person breaks up with you, you might be uncomfortable being alone and jump to the next person.
People with anxious attachments are heavily impacted by the attachment styles of others.
When anxious people are romantic with secure people, they can become more secure themselves. Their stability rubs off on the anxious, who finally feels safe with someone. This new sense of belonging can inspire a more confident and realistic outlook on relationships.
The darker side often comes when the anxious person meets an avoidant partner. While the anxious person may feel like they’re always caught in an emotional storm, an avoidant can turn it into a hurricane. This is often because their ideal bonding levels are at odds. The anxious wants to get closer. The avoidant is only comfortable further away — or oscillating between close and far. This can reinforce an anxious person’s anxiety, making them feel constantly triggered.
Research shows that anxious people tend to prefer avoidant partners. Avoidant women prefer anxious and avoidant men.
The Problem: Attaching Quickly
Besides being anxious in relationships, another drawback of having an anxious attachment could be that you bond with people too quickly.
The secure person takes their time to evaluate someone. The avoidant person may carry around an emotional 10-foot pool. But the anxious wastes no time before jumping in. And they have a hard time giving someone up.
Why? The anxious person may have difficulty being alone. If their parent wasn’t readily available as a child, they may be subconsciously seeking that connection in others.
On a more outward level, they may just crave a healthy connection, like all human beings. However, since anxious people tend to cling and choose avoidant partners, they’re often sent back out into the wild, searching for a new bond.
When they find someone new, before assessing them, they hold on in fear of missing yet another connection.
People who attach quickly also tend to have co-dependency issues. Co-dependency means that someone’s life or happiness revolves around another. In order to feel loved and worthy, they need to feel needed.
All of this could lead to the harmful habit of attaching too quickly.
Bonding quickly could mean dating a person for companionship instead of who they really are. It could lead to us choosing the wrong people and running past the red flags. And, eventually, being stuck in bad relationships.
Worst of all, it can lead to horrible heartbreak. If you bond fast, you might be devastated about the end of something that didn’t even start. Situationship breakups are a real thing — even if they’re only one-sided.
Since you put so much heart and energy into one person, when they’re ripped away, it’s painful. Compared to others in your life, you might be more accustomed to the agony of heartbreak.
The Solution: Dating Multiple People
If you have an anxious attachment style, bonding too fast could be ruining your dating life.
When you like someone, you really like them. Before logic can catch up, your feelings are tumbling out of your heart and you’re under a spell. Attached.
You might be aware of this habit but feel unable to stop yourself from falling so fast.
There is a trick to stop this impulsive connection though. And we can use it during dating to form better bonds and let go of bad ones.
According to Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller in Attached, people with anxious attachments should date multiple people. Instead of chatting with one person on a dating app and meeting them, meet several. While you’re in the beginning stages, go on dates with different people.
This lets us hedge our bets on more than one selected candidate. It prolongs the time until we reach the “point of no return.”
Levine and Heller argue this will help the anxious person in several ways.
If someone treats you poorly, why would you stick around when the other person treats you perfectly?
If you have options, you can also make your needs clear without fear of losing people. When you tell Jim his lack of time is a make or break, you won’t be tempted to stay when he gives you less. That’s because Mark is waiting for you and he has all the time in the world. Suddenly, Jim seems like less of a rarity. He’s not a diamond, just another pebble in the mud.
Seeing multiple people means we’re less likely to get stuck on one person. If we’re disappointed or mistreated, we’ll just turn to one of our other dates.
Think of it like online shopping: If the shirt you want is on page 10, you’ll never get there if you keep getting stuck on page one. When you’re in the habit of turning pages you don’t like, you’ll eventually find one you do.
Dating multiple people at the same time can be a good idea for anyone. If meeting your partner is a numbers game, why not increase your odds?
It’s a particularly good strategy for anxious people though: It makes you more likely to hold out for what you deserve.
Previously Published on medium
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