Preoccupied Attachment: Desperate for Love

Those who have a preoccupied attachment style are sensitive to the possibility of being overlooked or rejected by their partner, whom they need to protect them. So they use hyperactivating strategies to keep their attachment system “turned on” (or activated), which ensures that they will continue to seek out a reliable.

For instance, they often overreact to problems and underestimate their ability to cope; they might also constantly scan for possible problems in the past, present, and future. In creating all of these negative feelings and thoughts, they heighten their need for an attachment figure and are essentially crying out for one. Unfortunately, those who do this to an extreme can also end up feeling chronically overwhelmed, vulnerable, and needy.

Their sensitivity to any possible signs of rejection unintentionally instigates fights and creates distance in their intimate relationships.

It’s a given that at some point their partners will misunderstand them, be physically unavailable, or not respond in a caring enough manner; but people with preoccupied attachment styles will view this with alarm. A clear example of this is how upset a lady becomes when the guy doesn’t immediately respond to her texts. Although people with a preoccupied style might begin a relationship feeling intoxicated by their new love, they often quickly get caught up in their own distress. Then they are apt to see their partners as unloving (or not consistently available), untrustworthy, and possibly unfaithful. This leads to them being possessive and unrealistically jealous. To make matters worse,
they are often unable to calm down enough to forgive their partners for any wrongdoing. So their relationships are unstable and easily disrupted by problems. As a result, people like Rachel are usually unhappy in love.

Because their attachment needs and struggles feel so strong, some people with a preoccupied attachment style organize their lives around trying to prove that they are worthy of love, or trying to distract themselves from their negative feelings. This interferes with their ability to express themselves in an authentic way or to pursue personal interests.

Just as they do with the rest of their lives, people with a preoccupied attachment style approach their sex lives with a drive to gain reassurance and avoid rejection. So although they often enjoy being
held and caressed without really wanting more sexual intimacy, they turn to sex to get the assurance and acceptance that they seek. Men, in their attempts to feel loved and accepted by a woman, tend to be more sexually reserved and to look for their partner to be sexually responsive and pleased. By contrast, women, in their attempts to feel loved and accepted by a man, tend to be less reserved, or sometimes promiscuous. In both cases, they often struggle with feeling that their partners or situations control their sex lives, and they are often uncomfortable talking with their partners about sex.

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