Help for women (ie anxious insecure) so partners will love them

The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain.
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

For the typical woman who has an anxious insecure or anxious/avoidant insecure attachment style, understanding and constructively communicating one’s own emotions is paramount. As well as being heard and understood, it is essential that you become adept at communicating the first feelings or emotions that arise so that your partner has a better likelihood of understanding what is going on within you. As Daniel Goleman has noted, “Our emotional intelligence determines our potential for learning the practical skills that are based on its five elements: self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, empathy, and adeptness in relationships.” Most women have these in greater abundance than most men, so have the capacity with good emotional management to engage otherwise avoidant males. This article deals with the ‘anxious’ style of relating, the most common relating style that women resort to under relationship stress.

‘Anxious Insecure’ Personality Type

 

“My strength is my ability to connect with others whom I love and care for.”

You will know your style is ‘anxious’ by the fact that a lack of connection or harmony with those that you love leaves you feeling desperate to restore that connection and harmony as soon as possible. More likely a woman than a man, you will get very upset during conflict if you are not listened to, taken seriously, and really heard at an emotional level. You will feel hurt easily and often, especially if your need to be listened to is not met, and may get frustrated or even angry when your partner continues to fail to ‘get you’ and may even pursue him in order to reconnect. Eventually, if you feel hurt or fearful of rejection enough, you may put up a wall, or just back off. If you’ve done this, you’ve evolved into an Anxious-Avoidant Insecure Personality Type.

 

  1. Your strength of being connected to your feelings will not be seen as a strength by many others.Your personality type risks being ‘over the top’ emotionally because your feelings are so strong. When these feelings reach fever pitch, there may not be much understanding from others. Feelings of hurt, sadness, despair, rejection, loneliness and fear are all asking you to act on your own behalf to work out a solution. If this doesn’t happen, there will most likely be a sharp rise in your emotional temperature. See your strong feelings as a strength and learn to express them in a way which does not overwhelm others. This is most successfully achieved by voicing hurt and sadness without letting your feelings head off into resentment, frustration, or anger. Don’t allow hurt and upset to evolve into resentment and have this then undermine the love you would prefer to feel.

  2. Your negative emotions simply tell you what is going on and what you want to discuss and process with those whose support you trust. However, they may find it challenging to listen to what they may experience as endless negativity, or worse – wails, grizzles, whines, helplessness or anger. Your challenge is not to allow your processing of your struggles to dominate your ability to look forward to possible solutions. Having a problem is OK, but burdening others with it without being proactive is draining for a partner. Seek ways to resolve whatever bothers you, and talk also about that with your partner.

  3. You may be possessed by a desire to pursue your partner in order to get resolution, only to see him/her head off into the sunset.Notice that when you get more worked up, you inadvertently distance yourself from others, and reduce the likelihood of achieving either harmony or connection. Instead of pursuing, invite your partner to agree to a way of both sitting down to talk through your differences once you’ve both had time to settle down. It is a strength to want to connect and work things out, but only if you don’t frighten your partner off first with your intensity or anger.

  4. You might need to explain that if your feelings are listened to, you can better connect to your own needs and knowing.Your partner is unlikely to know this, and may even have to be helped to learn how to reflect your feelings, thus enabling you to reflect on what you are needing and wanting. Explain also that for you it is essential to have your feelings heard and validated, and that this then allows you to come to your own conclusions about what you are wanting for yourself. You can come to your own decisions, but only after your emotions are settled and the emotional static is cleared from your mind and a way ahead becomes apparent to you.

  5. Notice that cold, logical argument, especially during conflict, doesn’t work well for you.It is feeling that makes sense, and reasoned debate can leave you confused, exhausted and at odds with yourself. What probably matters most to you is how you and others feel towards each other, not what makes rational sense, is right, better or correct. However, because some issues do require rational discussion, you will be best able to participate in that once your emotions are settled and you have felt heard and your view validated.

  6. You may well feel inadequate or wrong when you’re emotional, because you may have grown up with people who criticised your emotional style.Thus, you can very easily give up on yourself when in an argument, feeling as though no one cares or understands. You may even feel judgmental towards yourself when you get emotional. You can overcome this pattern by taking time out and supporting your feelings and yourself, knowing that they are both OK and also very functional. Never give up on yourself, no matter how inadequate, wrong or frustrated you may feel. Your feelings are both your guide and your responsibility. No-one can make you feel anything. So take time out to sit with and calm your feelings before communicating. It is easy for you to feel disempowered, dominated, or bossed around in a relationship, but your partner may not intentionally be doing any of that.

  7. You may have to explain to your partner, that s/he is most lovable and helpful to you when s/he is connecting with you at a heart level.The only time a relationship feels good to you is probably when your partner feels warm towards you, and cares about how you feel. No matter what the debate or conflict is about, it is this quality connection that cements the relationship for you. Help your partner to know that this quality connection and empathic understanding is what you most seek, and that you can discuss matters logically (especially talking about sex) once emotional connection has been accomplished.

  8. Although you have a high need for relationship time (with partner, kids, or friends), know that for balanced mental health you must prioritize ‘alone’ time.While you love relating, you can easily get overwhelmed looking after others at your own expense. It is easy for you to slip into rescuing others. Support yourself to have time doing what you love, just for you. Overcome any ‘selfish’ feelings that might get in the way and bring balance into your life. Once you learn to put yourself first, you will become more empowered to express your needs, wants and preferences in general.

  9. One of your prime needs is likely to be to spend quality time with your partner.It may surprise you that not everyone thinks this way, but often anxious types become strung out if they get insufficient time with their beloved. Don’t expect him/her to know this. His/her rhythm may be different to yours. Ask for your need to be met – before your frustration builds to resentment or anger. Your partner will hear you better when you are cool calm and collected and can express your needs clearly.

  10. Learn your preferred style of feeling loved and ask for it.You may prefer to be given things, told how much you are loved, given touch such as hugs or a held hand, have things done for you, have quality time with you made a priority, or a combination of these. Learn the love language you most enjoy. Express your needs to your partner, and certainly don’t assume they ‘should’ know. Feeling loved is a priority for you, because it is what you most seek from life. However, if your partner expresses love to you in the way they would most like it given to them, there may be a mismatch and therefore a misunderstanding can arise.

  11. Undertake an activity that will help you settle your emotions.Notice that your urgent desire to communicate, even if you do so whilst screamingly angry, destroys the relationship. Instead, take time out and act in ways which soothe you and care for your feelings. This could include unwinding by talking to a friend, or writing down on paper something to later hand to your partner. If you get too anxious about connection with your beloved, you could easily slip into becoming angry or becoming distant. Once you feel more settled, then you can express your vulnerable emotions or needs.

  12. You may find yourself feeling disempowered in your relationship.Because reasoning is not your first port of call, and for ‘avoidants’ usually it is, you may feel that your partner constantly ‘wins’ arguments by sounding more reasonable, sensible or simply louder. It is therefore easy for you to feel overwhelmed, minimised, ignored or sidelined when you argue. Support your feeling backed perspective. It is neither wrong, inferior nor illogical, and be wary of getting caught in arguments based on reason. If you tend to meet argument with argument, reflect on whether this approach actually benefits you.

  13. You may find yourself feeling controlled or disempowered by your partner’s confidence. His confidence is OK provided you don’t allow it to diminish, squash or over-ride you. As Johann Hari has observed in his book Lost Connections, disempowerment can at times be a recipe which leads to depression. If you’re feeling as though you have no say, or your say is belittled, then a discussion about everyone’s viewpoint being heard and considered equally will be necessary.

  14. When both you and your partner are in a settled resourceful state, talk.You will want to discuss your needs, wants and preferences and be heard by your partner. Let them know how you would like your viewpoints and felt perspectives best heard, and how they might be able to support you in expressing these. Ensure you both discuss how conflict arises, and what you can both do to circumvent it in future.

  15. Rejection or abandonment may be big for you.Not all anxious types experience this, but if you do, it will be a big part of your emotional experience. These overwhelming feelings may leave you feeling alone and devastated, but they have their origins in childhood, not in this relationship. You must ask for support and comfort without blaming anyone else for your emotional reactivity. You can reach out for support, but your partner is unlikely to understand what it is you experience much less what you need. You may feel vulnerable asking, but it is the only way to break this pattern and come in from the emotional cold. Focus on and request your need for connection at such times.

  16. Avoidant insecure personality types may be difficult for you to understand or get on with.That is until you appreciate and work with each other’s personality differences. While neither you nor the avoidant person can change their underlying behavioural type, you can choose new ways of behaving that bridges and works with the differences. It is essential for you that your partner hears how you tick, and can support you, and you them.

  17. If you find yourself screaming at your partner, saying abusive things, or just being nasty, it is YOUR job to stop this.While this is a pattern in only a small percentage of anxious insecure types, it is highly destructive and will sabotage the partnership. Remind yourself that no-one can make you react without your permission. This is your childhood trauma revisiting you, but you may be convinced that it is not your fault but caused by your partner. However, your emotional reactivity is ALWAYS about you. Even someone in an abusive relationship who is not so reactive would walk away or in some way take care of themselves. That would be harder for an abusive anxious insecure person because they would fear the disconnection. Thus, anger replaces skilfully chosen methods of self-care.

  18. Your anger could kill your relationship. Because it is so destructive in a relationship, don’t allow your anger to have its way. Anger is a desperate attempt to regain empowerment, but will rarely if ever benefit you. It will shame your partner and either push them away or fire them up. You must learn to calm yourself on your own, knowing that there are underlying feelings seeking expression, especially hurt, loneliness, anxiety or sadness. When you learn what these are, and the needs they alert you to, you can have a more focused conversation with your partner which they will find easier to have with you than when you were fired up.

‘Anxious-Avoidant’ Insecure Personality Type

 

“I like connection, but it sometimes feels too risky for me to engage.”

This style is a variation of the Anxious Insecure type, but may not feel like it. Mostly a female style, it develops when connection feels too scary, too hard, too risky, or you’ve just given up. Some with this style know they’ve pulled back from their partner or put up walls. However, others will only recognise that they fit the ‘avoidant’ description more than the ‘anxious’ style, and may have even learned as youngster not to get too close to people. However, a strong desire for connection and closeness hints that your preference is not to remain distant and cut-off from your partner.

  1. Your natural style is the ‘anxious insecure’ style described above.However, you will notice a lot of fear about relating closely. You may also notice that when conflict occurs, you pull away or close down very quickly. Too much conflict, hurt, resentment, frustration or anger has turned you off. Either that or you grew up using distance from those close to you as a tool to stay safe. However, it will never satisfy or work for you emotionally to continue to remain distant from those you love and who have the potential to support you.

  2. The feeling of fear of your partner(s) has been a big part of your life.So practised are you at avoiding close connection, you may fail to notice that fear of closeness is dominating any relating you would prefer to be doing. It is essential that you recognise any fear of rejection, or any readiness to reject or be critical of yourself. You must learn to support yourself no matter what, so that if you do get rejected, you don’t take it personally, but know that this sometimes happens when people don’t understand one another.

  3. You may feel incomplete or alone a lot. Inevitably, aloneness will be a consequence of this pattern. Know though that these feelings are asking you to support yourself by connectingwith others. Be choosy who you connect with and when, and be sure that they have relational skills to talk things through, rather than push people away when conflict arises. In his book Lost Connections, Johann Hari shows how loneliness can lead to depression/anxiety. So closing down, shutting up and backing away should never be a long term strategy you become reliant on.

  4. Let your partner know why you are pulling away.Your partner won’t have ESP, so s/he’ll need to be told. Choose a moment when you and s/he are not at war, and explain that you feel too fearful to connect anymore. Explain that you want to feel heard and appreciated, even if s/he disagrees with your feelings or viewpoint. Know that your feelings are precious, and communicate these to those you love and trust if at all possible. Expression of feelings is your lifeline, but you may have learned over time to suppress these.

  5. Practice getting closer to your partner (or others) in safe situations.Choose friends who demonstrate functional relating, so that you can risk connection with what appears to be people with sound relationship skills. Practice talking about yourself, and learn to embrace and support that part of self that gets fearful being vulnerable to your partner. Once you practice and succeed at supporting yourself, you will become aware that you have the capacity to do this no matter what others throw at you.

  6. Take steps to communicate the impact aggressive people have on you.If you are avoiding closeness with a partner for fear of reprisals, let them know (in a non-blaming way) that you’ve pulled back because of behaviours of theirs that you find difficult to work with. Let them know your struggle to connect with them, and the fear their style of relating brings up in you. This doesn’t mean that either their style or yours is wrong (unless they are being abusive or addictive). It’s simply the interactive dynamic that causes you to close down and limit closeness.

  7. Notice if you are overreacting fearfully to a threat that is long gone.If you’ve had an abusive past, you may be fearing it will rear up in the present. Notice if you are reacting to a threat that isn’t what your fear claims it might be. Breathe into the fear you feel, connect and communicate in ways that your partner can hear. Ask for support from your partner when these fears and self-doubts arise, and explain that you fear his/her response, or fear his/her disinterest, or whatever it may be you fear. If your partner is abusive, addictive or is disempowering you, it may be prudent to seek professional support for finding a way forward.

  8. Avoidant insecure personality types may be difficult for you to understand or get on with.That is until you appreciate and work with each other’s personality styles. While neither you nor the avoidant person can change their underlying behavioural type, you can choose new ways of behaving that bridges and works with the differences. It is essential for you that your partner hears how you tick, and can support you once they understand you. Without this, you will not feel safe to come out of your shell and engage with him/her.

  9. It’s in your interest not to stay in this stuck place.You won’t enjoy being in this closed-down state, you will feel disempowered, and you certainly won’t feel happy. So don’t allow this pattern to continue, because you risk having it eat away at your self-esteem. You will not only close down to him, but risk closing down to yourself and to your life. Expressing your feelings, your truth, your experience of the other, and your unhappiness at the situation and desire to be supported to be who you are will all help you escape this unpleasant trap. If this doesn’t feel safe to do, you will require support from somewhere to get unstuck.

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