My anxious girlfriend and I are having problems

I realized a while back, "thanks" to my anxious-preoccupied girlfriends incessant questioning, that and the following soul and Internet searching that I am an avoidant. Since then I have read a lot on the subject, gone to cognitive-behavior therapy and I am now seeing a psychologist for more work.

When I realized this I started taking on all the blame for every one of our horrible fights, once a month or once every other. Probably because I read that the avoidant type is the worst type somewhere and it felt true.

Now I realize she is extremely anxiously attached and our fights go on. She is four months pregnant now and of course her pregnancy is her biggest concern, but also her behavior has gotten worse. I have tried to get her to take an interest in attachment theory and for example your blog but to no avail, she says she is in her pregnancy process and can’t spend energy on my process.

I try to tell her that what I am exploring is relevant to us both as a couple but she just gets very very very angry with me.

We had a fight the other day and I told her straight out that if she doesntake responsibility for her part I will have to leave this love relationship. I am riddled with a bad conscience because we are about to have a baby but I can’t take being alone in this and getting no support or recognition.

I think she fears what this information would show her about herself, she had alcoholic and neglecting parents but she says she is fine with them and just had a different upbringing. I am thinking that maybe we could communicate better if we broke up, she is a beautiful person to her friends, and me when she is feeling secure, which is not very often these days.

I am pretty desperate but at the same time I think I know what I have to do. Please give me some advice on this.

Response:

Anxious-avoidant couples have so many problems to address (see anxious-avoidant relationships). The avoidant (dismissing) person is typically more aloof and hostile, while the anxious person is needy, controlling and sensitive to rejection (real or imagined). Conflict between such couples can really escalate out of control and do considerable damage to a relationship.

The good news is that you are aware of this pattern. Most people are so caught up in the momentary issues that they never discover what the real problem is (see truth about attachment).

It is also great that you are going to therapy to address what you are bringing to the table. However, it takes two people to make a relationship work and only one person to bring it crashing down. Your girlfriend’s reluctance to get help is typical, but concerning.

Many people avoid therapy because they consciously or unconsciously know that they will have to confront their demons in order to improve the way they think, feel and behave. Without confronting one’s demons, however, they ultimately control how one’s life plays out. Best to confront them directly than let them dictate what happens the rest of one’s life.

Trying to convince your girlfriend to get help is a wise strategy. Given her anxious style of attachment, however, she is probably taking it the wrong way. She is probably viewing it as an attack on her because she is overly sensitive to criticism and rejection (real or imagined). And issuing threats about leaving the relationship is not the best way to approach the issue – it only makes her more anxious.

If you haven’t done so already, tell her how much you love her and you want her to be a part of this process you are going through. Tell her you want to share this experience with her. Avoid lecturing her or anything else that could be interpreted as criticism.

If you can’t get her to work with you to solve this problem, then you probably know what you have to do.

Hope this helps.

 anxious attachment | constant fighting | dismissing attachment | troubled relationship

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