Preoccupied Attachment Style: Beware The 8 Signs You Have It

Author: Kyrsta Anderson

Do you struggle with jealousy and trust issues in your romantic relationship? 

Do you fear abandonment or feel overly dependent in your relationship? 

If you’re struggling with this type of relationship anxiety, you may have a preoccupied attachment style.

Your attachment style is based on the theory that your childhood relationship with your caregivers is replicated in your adult romantic relationships. 

Having this attachment style can not only be exhausting and overwhelming, but it can also be detrimental to the relationship.

But don’t fret! If you’re here, you’re on the right track. The first step to overcoming an anxious preoccupied attachment style is having awareness of it. 

So let’s talk about what a preoccupied attachment style really is and the major signs to look out for. 

QUIZ TIME: Anxious, avoidant or secure attachment patterns? Which one do I have? CLICK HERE to find out with our specially crafted women-specific 10 Question Quiz!

(Why is this important? It is because your core attachment style largely dictates and influences what happens in your relationship. Thus it’s imperative you understand your core attachment style!)

Preoccupied attachment style is also known as anxious preoccupied attachment style. 

Simply put, it is when a person experiences anxiety in their relationship with their significant other. 

Attachment theory claims that this style is a product of inconsistent parenting, in which the parent may be nurturing and caring at one moment, then emotionally unavailable and critical the next. 

This volatile environment causes the child to feel confused and insecure, and then they overcompensate by acting clingy or dramatic in order to get attention and have their needs met. 

People with this attachment style tend to: 

  • Overthink the words and actions of their partner. 
  • Read a negative narrative into something that was positive.  
  • Crave reassurance about the security of the relationship and their partner’s affection for them. 

These are just a few of the characteristics of those with an anxious preoccupied attachment style, so let’s get into the eight signs you have this attachment style. 

​​CLICK here to discover the 7 common signs that a woman is perceived as low value in the eyes of men in this special report. 

(Why is this important? Because men and women perceive value very differently and you don’t want to be making mistakes that would cause quality men to dismiss, abandon or alienate you.) 

8 Signs You Have Preoccupied Attachment Style

Sign #1: Low Self Worth. 

If you struggle with your self esteem and this insecurity bleeds into your relationships, you may have a preoccupied attachment style. 

Low self-worth looks like: 

  • Negative self talk. 
  • Lack of boundaries. 
  • People pleasing. 
  • Upward social comparison. 
  • Difficulty accepting positive feedback. 

Sign #2: Constant Need For Closeness And Intimacy.

This is also known as dependency or codependency

Dependency is basically the idea that one can’t function independently without their partner. 

When your partner is gone, you don’t cope very well. This is because feeling alone feels scary, overwhelming, and strange. 

You don’t feel content on your own, and your moods and emotions are defined by the other person.

Sign #3: Requiring Frequent Reassurance That People Care About You.

Whether this be your partner, friends, or even family - constantly needing reassurance that your loved ones care about you is a sign you have an anxious preoccupied attachment style. 

Recommended: New Relationship Anxiety: 9 Symptoms, Causes & How To Overcome It.

While it’s normal to feel insecure in relationships from time to time, too much may be detrimental to both you and your partner. 

This need for reassurance can come from inconsistent parenting while you were growing up. 

You develop an incessant need for reassurance because you didn’t have it in your childhood. Every child deserves steady love.

Alas, not every family can offer that steady love. Parenting is hard, and it’s even harder when you have other troubles in life such as money or relationship issues.

The child can then end up carrying the constant feeling of not knowing how their parent feels, due to the changing nature of their love. 

Preoccupied attachment style can also come from a past relationship trauma, for example - if you’ve been cheated on before. 

Overall, this need for constant reassurance is driven by the anxiety of being abandoned or feeling unloved. 

Sign #4: Hypersensitivity To Your Partner’s Moods And Actions.

Being in tune with other people’s emotions can be a great thing! It means you have empathy and crave a high level of connection. 

However, if every mood change makes you fear that they no longer love you or even like you, that is your fear of abandonment talking.

Recommended: How To Build Emotional Connection With A Man: Game Changer.

Also, if your hypersensitivity to your partner’s moods is getting to the point where you’re always misinterpreting things and thinking your partner is mad at you when they simply have needs of their own, that can be very draining for both of you. 

You can thank your childhood relationship with your parents for this hypersensitivity though. This behavior is another direct result of inconsistent parenting that is connected with the anxious preoccupied attachment style. 

Your parents’, but especially your mother’s emotional inconsistency causes you to be highly sensitive to their mood in order to get your needs met. 

Now as an adult, you are highly attuned to these subtle changes in moods or behaviors and it can be triggering. 

If you find these triggers hard to deal with, I highly recommend you learn to self soothe your anxious attachment style.

attachment style quiz

Sign #5: Major Trust Issues.

This one might seem obvious by now. 

Preoccupied attachment style is based on the premise that the anxiety essentially makes you question, well…everything! 

Again, especially if you had an ex who was disloyal in addition to the inconsistent parenting you experienced. 

Trust issues are a normal part of relationships, especially in the earlier stages. 

If your partner, however, has given you no reason to not trust them and it seems like nothing can get you past these trust issues, take this a sign you have a preoccupied attachment style.

Related: Can’t Trust Anyone? 6 Hidden Signs They’re Untrustworthy.

Sign #6: Constant Need To Please People And Gain Approval.

People pleasing is defined as a person who has a need to please others at their own expense. 

It’s another adaptive habit formed as a child in order to get attention from the emotionally unavailable caregiver. 

You may be a people pleaser if

  • It's hard for you to say no. 
  • You want everyone to like you.
  • You apologize…a lot. Even when you did nothing wrong. 
  • You’re always agreeing, even when you don’t really agree. 

Being kind to people is great, but if you’re sacrificing your own needs in the process it can cause: 

  • Unfulfilling relationships. 
  • Increased stress. 
  • Higher risk of being manipulated. 
  • Frustration and resentment from you and your loved ones. 

Sign #7: Fear Of Abandonment

Trust issues, people pleasing, fear of abandonment… They all go together. 

Living with a persistent fear of being abandoned by your caregiver as a child, or even losing a loved one at an early age can trigger this abandonment fear.  

Fear of abandonment can lead to

  • People pleasing. 
  • Clinginess. 
  • Acting controlling in relationships. 
  • Pushing people away.
  • Sabotaging your relationships.
  • Shame.

MORE: 15 Signs You Have Abandonment Issues & How To Test For Them.

Sign #8: Being Highly Emotional, Moody, And Unpredictable

Being highly emotional and having unpredictable mood swings is likely a byproduct of the constant anxiety your body is under. 

You’re looking for signs of disloyalty or looming abandonment, you’re people pleasing, and you don’t have high self-esteem.. That’s enough to make anyone an emotional rollercoaster!

People with this attachment style tend to make impulsive and unpredictable decisions, like breaking up with their partner over a minor disagreement. 

It’s because the fear of abandonment has been triggered. 

Anxiety causes you to feel negative emotions more frequently, and also lowers your tolerance for handling stress which often manifests into moodiness and irritability

EXACTLY What You Need To Do If You Have These Signs 

Having an anxious preoccupied attachment style can make relationships even harder to navigate than they already are. 

Remember it’s not your fault that you have this attachment style, it is a byproduct of your past that you had no control over. 

Now that you’re aware of these signs, it’s time to learn how to overcome preoccupied attachment style, and more importantly, develop what we at NCRW call a ‘High Value Mindset’.

The best thing to do is to learn to “trade in” your anxiety and insecurities for self esteem, self worth and intrinsic confidence, so that no one will ever take you for granted & high value men will recognise you as an indispensable “keeper”. CLICK Here for more on how to do that.

Kyrsta Anderson

Kyrsta is a graduate from Chapman University, where she majored in Business Marketing. She resides in Los Angeles with her boyfriend. In addition to blog writing, she is currently working as an agency signed model and a nanny. Her passions are fashion, health and fitness (especially yoga) writing, reading, and spending time in nature.

Kyrsta Anderson

Author For National Council for Research on Women

P.S. I hope you've enjoyed this article. Here are some other articles that I think you'd really like too...

3 Powerful Ways To Self Soothe Anxious Attachment.

13 Proven Signs Of Attachment Issues In Adults + How To Fix It For Good.

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