It’s not very often I say this, but I watched a pretty life-changing TikTok the other day. But before we get into that, I just want to say that yes, I’m a 27-year-old with TikTok. And yes, I struggle with extreme relationship anxiety.
This might be the cause of your relationship anxiety
Popular social psychology tells me that the anxiety I experience in my relationships is a result of my ‘attachment style.’ If you’re not familiar with attachment theory, I’ll give you a quick run-down.
Essentially, attachment styles are patterns of how we think, feel, and behave in close relationships. They are thought to be a result of the emotional bond we formed with our caregiver at a very young age. Depending on the nature of your early interactions, you will go on to develop one of the following attachment styles:
Secure: this attachment style is formed if your caregiver was consistent, warm, and caring — but not overbearing. Individuals with a secure attachment style feel confident in their relationships and have an easy time building trust, showing support, and expressing love for their partner.
Dismissive-avoidant: this attachment style is formed if your caregiver often ignored your signs of distress. Individuals who display avoidant attachment tend to be ‘emotionally unavailable’ and become distant and closed-off in relationships.
Anxious-preoccupied: this attachment style is formed if your caregiver was inconsistently available. Individuals with anxious-preoccupied attachment tend to need lots of reassurance from their partner, but struggle to trust them.
Fearful-avoidant: this attachment style is formed if you experienced loss or trauma as a child. Individuals with fearful-avoidant attachment are basically a hybrid of avoidant and anxious — switching back and forth between the two attachment styles.
If you’re reading this article, then I’m guessing that you also fall under the anxious-preoccupied attachment style. Bonus points if it’s because of your lack of a consistent father figure.
Daddy issues aside, knowing your attachment style can go a long way towards understanding how you behave in relationships and how you can become more secure in your attachments.
Clinical psychologist, Lisa Firestone, explains that people with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style often have trouble trusting their partner’s words and displays of affection because, as a child, these words sometimes felt empty or lacked conviction. This lack of trust makes us act deeply insecure in relationships, evening going as far as to reject the notion that their partner really does love them.
If you identify as anxious-preoccupied, then you can probably relate to the irrational fear that your partner is going to leave you for someone else. As shameful as it is to admit, I’ve struggled with this a lot in the past — until I had my lightbulb moment.
How one TikTok helped me become more secure
I was scrolling through TikTok when relationship guru Matthew Hussey popped up on my foryou page. He was addressing the question “how do I trust that someone isn’t going to betray me or cheat on me?’
For someone with a secure attachment, this might be a non-issue, but for someone who struggles with relationship anxiety, this is a completely legitimate question.
“You don’t trust that someone is never going to betray you — you just trust that you’ll be able to handle it if they do. That you’ll be able to walk away.
That’s a massive key to it. Stop worrying about whether you can trust someone else — maybe you can’t — we don’t know that. Only time will tell if you can trust somebody else. It is a pointless waste of your energy to worry about — worry only about yourself.”
This is an incredibly empowering message.
Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Building trust in a relationship takes time, and until then, trust yourself to handle whatever life throws at you.