Today, we’re discussing perhaps one of the most important aspects of not only dating success, but to your entire life:

Your attachment style.

If left unchecked, your attachment style can lead to a cycle of unhealthy relationships, constant anxiety, and an underlying sense of insecurity and unhappiness. It’s like living in a house with a foundation that’s cracking, but choosing to ignore it. Ignore it long enough, and the whole structure is at risk.

If you have an anxious attachment style—one of the most popular types for listeners of this show—then it explains why neediness rears its ugly head, threatening the health of your entire relationship.

But here’s the good news:

Just because you have an anxious attachment style today doesn’t mean you’ll forever suffer from this. In fact, not only is it possible to manage your attachment style, but you can even transform an anxious one into a secure one.

Now, this is easier said than done. But it’s possible.

In today’s show, you’ll discover the roots of your attachment style, how your attachment style gets triggered, how to manage your attachment style so it stops sabotaging your best relationship, and how to transform an anxious attachment style into a secure one.

The result?

You’ll not only improve your romantic relationships, but you’ll transform your entire approach to life. You’ll understand how to build a solid foundation for yourself, so you’re not always rocked by the waves of your emotions.

Listen now.

 Show highlights include:

  • How to prevent your unique “Attachment Style” from sabotaging your relationship and long-term happiness in life (0:41)
  • Despite popular belief: Attachment styles aren’t permanent—Here’s how to grow out of an anxious attachment style to a secure one (1:23)
  • How curiosity can execute your neediness, behead your fear of rejection, and eliminate your inability to trust others (3:35)
  • Do you always worry that your girlfriend will up and leave you? Here’s how one of my clients overcame this deep-rooted fear (and how you can do the same) (5:46)
  • The “Ideal Parent” management style of your inner parts that transforms your most vulnerable parts into some of your most confident ones (7:54)
  • How to enjoy your most intimate relationship (without the constant, nagging fear of losing it) (9:47)
  • The Cardinal Rule for Sexual Attractiveness that you must abide by or else you’ll sabotage a relationship as soon as intimacy heightens (10:53)
  • The wicked way your neediness creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that leaves your partner overwhelmed, suffocated, and resentful (12:07)
  • The 3-step “AUN” process to obliterate an anxious attachment style and transform it into a secure one (15:20)

    Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 15 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to take this quick quiz to access my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at now.

For more about David Tian, go here:

    Emotional Mastery is David Tian’s step-by-step system to transform, regulate, and control your emotions… so that you can master yourself, your interactions with others, and your relationships… and live a life worth living. Learn more here:


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Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in relationships, attraction, success, and fulfillment. Now, here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.

David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology podcast. I’m David Tian, your host. In this episode, we’re diving into a topic that’s crucial for the dating success and relationship health of anyone who has an anxious attachment style or is in a relationship with anyone with an anxious attachment style. By the end of this episode, you’re going to understand what an anxious attachment style actually is, and more importantly, how you can manage it.

This isn’t just about avoiding a few awkward dates or relationship hiccups. This is about ensuring that your attachment style doesn’t sabotage your long-term happiness and sense of security in life. If you’re not managing your anxious attachment style or if you haven’t grown out of it, it’s like walking around with a hidden saboteur in your emotional life. [01:03.6]

It’s not just about your relationships with others. This goes deeper, affecting your inner sense of happiness and security. We’re talking about the core of our wellbeing here. If your attachment style is out of whack, it’s like trying to build a house on shaky foundations. Sooner or later, things are going to crumble and it won’t be pretty.

Now, before we go any further, it’s important that we bust a big myth, the idea that our attachment styles are set for life, as if there’s some kind of emotional DNA that we just have to live with. It’s completely not true. With the right therapeutic process, especially something as powerful as IFS therapy, you can grow out of an anxious attachment style and evolve into a secure attachment.

IFS or Internal Family Systems therapy is a transformative approach that sees our psyche as made up of different parts, each with its own unique perspectives and emotions, and the key to changing your attachment style lies in understanding and harmonizing these parts. It’s about learning to lead your internal system with confidence and compassion. [02:07.7]

The IFS model introduces us to a revolutionary way of looking at our psyche. It suggests that our mind is not just one monolithic entity. Instead, it’s like a complex dynamic family made up of multiple parts. Think of these parts as individual characters, each with its own unique roles, emotions and perspectives. They’re like the diverse members of a family living under one roof, each contributing to the household’s dynamics in their own way. These parts aren’t just random. They’ve developed over time.

As we journey through life facing different experiences and challenges, these parts form to help us cope, to protect us, to make sense of the world. For example, you might have a part that might be the caretaker, always looking out for others, while you might have another part that’s like the achiever striving for success. [03:01.7]

Now, when it comes to anxious attachment, it’s essential to understand that it’s often not just about you in the singular sense, but about the interplay of these different parts within you. An anxious attachment style might arise when certain parts, maybe a part that’s been hurt in past relationships or one that fears abandonment, become overly dominant or reactive. These parts might be working overtime to protect you, but in doing so, they can drive behaviors that push others away or create tension in relationships.

What’s beautiful about the IFS model is that it provides a compassionate, non-pathologizing approach to understanding these parts. That means it doesn’t label any part as bad or wrong, or evil. Instead, it invites us to get curious about them to understand their intentions and to appreciate the role they play in our psyche. By recognizing these parts and how they interact, you start to gain insights into why you might feel needy in relationships, why you might fear rejection so intensely, or why you struggle to trust others. This awareness is the first step towards transformation. [04:15.2]

IFS posits that in addition to these parts, there’s also a core self. This self is the essence of who you are, confident, calm, compassionate, and curious. This is called the true self in IFS therapy. In the IFS approach, healing and growth come from leading these parts, from this state of this true self from this centered, grounded place within you.

Okay, let’s move even deeper into the journey. We’re going to talk about identifying the parts that play a role in anxious attachment. Imagine for a moment parts of you that have been shaped by your life experiences. There’s probably a vulnerable child part in there, at least one if not many, and this part might be carrying old wounds, fears from past experiences, maybe times you felt abandoned or unloved. [05:07.8]

This part isn’t just a memory. It’s a living, feeling aspect of you that influences how you interact in relationships now, today. When this vulnerable child part feels threatened, it can lead to that neediness that we often see in anxious attachment.

Now, there’s also likely a protective part. Think of this part as the bodyguard for your vulnerable child part. It’s constantly on the lookout, trying to keep you safe from any emotional harm. This protective part might be the one that’s always seeking reassurance in your relationships, always wanting to make sure everything’s okay, that you’re still valued, still wanted.

Here’s an example to illustrate. Let’s call him Mike. Mike was a client of mine who struggled with anxious attachment. He was always worried his girlfriend would leave him, and this fear drove him to constantly check in with her, needing constant affirmation of her feelings for him. [06:02.6]

Through exploring his parts in IFS therapy, Mike discovered he had a very active, vulnerable child part and this part was still holding on to feelings from his childhood, when his parents divorced and he felt abandoned by his father. This abandonment fear was running the show in his current relationship. But Mike also had a strong protective part. This part tried to keep him from feeling that abandonment pain again, so it would drive him to seek reassurance. That was this part’s job, to cling tighter in relationships, thinking that if he could just be sure of his partner’s love, he wouldn’t have to feel that old deep pain again.

As Mike worked on understanding and reassuring his vulnerable child part, and on helping his protected part to relax and win its trust, he began to feel more secure in himself. He didn’t need constant reassurance from his partner anymore, because he was learning to give that reassurance to himself. [07:01.1]

What’s powerful about identifying these parts is that it gives you a map of your internal world. You start to see that these behaviors, which might have seemed irrational or frustrating before, are actually coming from a place of trying to protect yourself, and more importantly, you realize that these parts aren’t all of you. They aren’t all of who you are. They’re just parts of you.

When you can see these parts, you can start to work with them, to understand them, to build a relationship with them, to comfort them. You can begin to lead your internal family with compassion and confidence from the state of your higher self, and as you do, your attachment style begins to shift. You move from anxious attachment driven by fear and neediness to a more secure attachment, grounded in self-understanding and self-reassurance.

Now we have to get into one of the most unique aspects of IFS therapy, the role of this higher self, especially in managing our parts. This is the key to turning anxious attachment into secure attachment. The true self in IFS isn’t just another part. It’s the core of your being, the essence of who you are at your highest, your best, confident, clear, compassionate, and connected. [08:15.7]

When you’re leading from the state of your higher self, you’re in a state of balance and strength. You’re able to look at all of your parts with understanding and love rather than being overwhelmed by them. Think of the true self or the higher self as the ideal parent for all of these parts. It doesn’t judge. It doesn’t get overwhelmed. Instead, it listens, understands and guides. When your vulnerable child part feels scared or when your protective part goes into overdrive, it’s the true self or the higher self that can step in and acknowledge these fears, and provide the reassurance and guidance that they need.

Okay, let’s bring this to life with an example. Remember Mike from our previous segment. As he worked on understanding his parts, he was also starting to more consistently access the state of his true self. He learned to step back and observe his parts without judgment, understanding that they were trying to protect him. He started to lead these parts from a place of compassion and confidence. [09:14.5]

For instance, when his vulnerable child part felt scared of abandonment, instead of letting that fear drive him to clingy behaviors, he acknowledged it. He told that part, “I see you’re scared and it’s okay. I’m here for you.” When his protective part urged him to seek constant reassurance from his partner, he gently reminded him, “Thank you for trying to protect me, but I’ve got this. We’re okay.”

By leading and living from his higher self, Mike began to transform his relationships. He wasn’t as needy or fearful. He found he could enjoy his intimate relationship without the constant fear of losing it. His girlfriend noticed the change, too. Their relationship became more balanced, more relaxed, more joyful. [09:58.6]

Accessing the state of your higher self more consistently is like building up a muscle. It takes practice, patience and persistence. It often involves learning to step back from the immediate reactions of your parts, and leading them with understanding and strength. This doesn’t mean ignoring or suppressing these parts. Quite the opposite, it’s about acknowledging them, appreciating them, understanding their fears and motivations and in their positive intent, and guiding them towards healthier ways of being.

This process can transform not just your intimate relationships, but all areas of your life. When you lead from the state of your true self, you approach the world with a grounded confidence. You’re less reactive, more empathetic, and deeply connected to your own inner wisdom.

Now let’s dive into how our parts impact our relationship dynamics, especially when it comes to sexual attraction. My friend, Mark Manson, hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “A man’s attractiveness is inversely proportional to his level of neediness.” This statement opens up a fascinating discussion when we look at it through the lens of IFS therapy and the parts within us. [11:08.4]

Okay, let’s break this down. When certain parts of us, say, the needy parts or an overly-protective part, when one of those parts take the driver’s seat in our relationships, they will lead us down some unhelpful paths. The needy part might drive us to seek constant validation, to cling to our partner in fear of losing them. The protective part might prompt us to erect walls to shield ourselves from potential hurt, but in doing so it can also block genuine intimacy and connection.

These behaviors driven by our parts can really skew the dynamics in our intimate relationships. If one person is always needy, always seeking validation, it can create an imbalance. The other person might feel overwhelmed, suffocated or even resentful. Similarly, if one person’s overly protective, it can create a distance, a lack of the kind of openness that’s vital for a healthy relationship. [12:03.1]

Let me give you an example. I had a client, let’s call him Alex. Alex struggled with a needy part that constantly sought approval from his partners. He would text them incessantly, always needing to know where he stood in the relationship. This behavior, driven by his needy part, stemmed from his fear of not being good enough, a fear that took root in his early life experiences. This neediness turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy. His girlfriend’s felt overwhelmed by his constant need for reassurance and eventually would pull away, which, then, in turn, would reinforce his belief that he wasn’t good enough.

Through IFS therapy, Alex began to understand the role of this needy part or this part that was feeling so needy. He learned to approach him with compassion to reassure this part from the state of his higher self. As he did this, he noticed a shift in his relationships. He became more secure in himself, less dependent on constant validation from his partners, and as his neediness decreased, his attractiveness increased, of course. The women that he was dating began to see him as more confident, more grounded, and the dynamics of his dating relationships improved incredibly. [13:17.7]

No matter their physical strength, for many men, emotions are too much for them to handle. It’s why they can’t give women the deeper levels of emotional intimacy and connection that they crave. It’s why they fail to be the man that modern women desire most: a man with inner strength, a man who has mastered his emotions.

Find out how to master your emotions through David Tian’s “Emotional Mastery” program. The Emotional Mastery program is a step-by-step system that integrates the best of empirically-verified psychotherapy methods and reveals how to master your internal state and develop the inner strength that makes you naturally attractive, happy, and fulfilled.

Learn more about this transformational program by going to

That’s D-A-V-I-D-T-I-A-N-P-H-D [dot] com [slash] emotional mastery.

This example underscores this powerful truth. The parts of us that drive unhelpful behaviors in our relationships, like neediness or overprotectiveness, they can be managed. By understanding these parts, by leading them with the strength and compassion of our higher self, we can change not just how we relate to others, but how they perceive and react to us.

The impact of our parts on our relationships and on our attractiveness cannot be overstated. When we let our needy or protective parts take over, we inadvertently push people away, but when we lead these parts from a place of self-assuredness, when we soothe and manage our own parts effectively, we open the door to healthier, more balanced relationships that occurred naturally as an outcome. We become more attractive, not just because we’re less needy, but also because we’re more ourselves, more in tune with our true authentic nature, our higher self. [15:10.7]

Okay, so let’s walk through some of the hows for healing and integration using IFS therapy to manage anxious attachments. Okay, so I’ll just give you some of the steps to get you started, but I highly recommend that you go through these with a trained and experienced professional.

Okay, let’s start with the first step, acknowledging our parts, and maybe a pre-step is awareness, first becoming aware of these parts and then acknowledging them. This might sound really simple, but it’s actually difficult to do if you’ve never actually done it.

Acknowledging means recognizing that these parts exist first and then understanding that they have a positive intent and that they have a purpose, a purpose that was adaptive back then when they first started doing these jobs, but that you’re noticing are now maladaptive in your current life. They’re not your enemies. They’re like members of your internal family who need your attention and care. [16:07.3]

Next, then it’s about understanding these parts. You can ask yourself, “What are they trying to do for me? What fears or beliefs are driving their behaviors?” This understanding is crucial, because it shifts your perspective from frustration with these parts to compassion for them.

Then let’s talk about the next step of negotiating with your parts, and this is where the leadership, especially of the true self, becomes crucial, and this is only to be done when you’ve built a relationship with these parts. At this point, it’s about stepping in, not to dominate or suppress them, but to guide them. It’s like a parent gently but firmly leading a child. You acknowledge the part’s fears or needs, and then you negotiate a healthier way for them to achieve their goals.

Okay, let’s illustrate this with a case study. I worked with a client and let’s call him Tom. Tom had a part that was extremely protective, always on guard against potential hurt, especially in intimate relationships. This part kept pushing people away, fearing they would eventually leave or hurt him. [17:12.0]

In our work together, Tom first acknowledged this protective part. He understood then that it developed from past experiences where he had been hurt, and then after many weeks of building a relationship with his parts that he would trust him, he was able to negotiate with his part. He reassured him saying, “I understand why you’re trying to protect me, but when you push people away, it actually makes me feel lonelier. Let’s find a way to let people in while still feeling safe.” This negotiation led to a gradual shift in Tom’s behavior. He started to open up more in relationships, but at a pace that felt safe for him. As a result, his relationships improved, and he felt more connected and less guarded. [17:55.5]

Now, a crucial part of this process is helping these parts trust the leadership of your true self. This means consistently showing up as a compassionate, confident leader for your parts over time. You’re going to have to prove yourself that they can trust you. You’re going to have to earn their trust. When they see that your higher self can handle these situations in a balanced, mature way, they can then start to relax and let go of their more extreme roles.

Then this leads to a more harmonious inner system, and when your internal system is in harmony, this gets reflected in your external relationships. You become less reactive, more centered, and your relationships naturally become healthier, and more fulfilling.

Okay, remember, this process isn’t like some quick fix. It’s a journey. It involves patience, self-compassion, and consistent practice, but the payoff is immense. It’s your life. By integrating these strategies into your life, you move towards a more secure attachment style. You move towards healthier relationships and you create a deeper connection with yourself. [19:01.8]

In my own life, by the time I started dating, I had a pretty strong anxious attachment style. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. Then coming to 30. I learned pickup, and what you were taught as a standard approach in pickup back then was a kind of avoidant attachment style. It kind of balanced me out because I naturally had this anxious attachment, but I was effecting this avoidant attachment behavior. Of course, this is all dysfunctional, so it just creates more toxic relationships, but in the short term, it made me more attractive and it made it easier to navigate at least the initial stages, the initial few weeks of a relationship.

Over time, I developed my own style of dating that was much more effective and actually more sustainable and healthier it turns out over the long term, and I based it on finding best practices, sort of like in business when you adopt best practices that, given similar situations, would be the best type of practice to apply in the type of situations you normally see. It doesn’t apply all the time and it doesn’t apply in the marginal cases at the extremes, but it’s best practice. In my dating skills courses, I teach best practices. [20:15.5]

Now, I still had the underlying anxious attachment until I got into therapy and worked with that, and learned about what the heck anxious attachment style was in the first place. Then, with a combination of the dating-skills knowledge and experience, and the psychotherapeutic knowledge and experience, especially when it came to attachment styles, I recognized that when the anxiousness came up in me that might make me respond to a text, or text faster or earlier, or ask for more reassurance or do something that I would later realize or discover as needy, I would recognize that. “Oh, those are my anxious parts coming up and their instincts simply can’t be trusted here. They’re compromised in that way.” [20:59.8]

Luckily, I knew the best practices, so I knew just to stick to those, and sometimes that meant turning off my phone or putting it somewhere that is out of reach and makes it more difficult for me to just instinctively or rationally act on those anxious impulses. This was in the early stages of the therapeutic process for myself, and over time, the anxiousness went away, because I was able to be with those parts that were anxious better.

I was able to be with them more quickly and I was able to build the trust with them so that they could, from my higher self and the state of my higher self, build that trusting relationship with them so that they could relax into reassurance from me and not needing reassurance from outside me, like from somebody I’m dating.

Now, we know that many men who are trying to overcome their anxious attachment or their neediness, they recognize their neediness and that it’s bringing them bad outcomes. But I think what they are lacking is not only the therapeutic process that they need to continue to go through that, and they’re lacking access consistently to their higher self, but they’re also lacking access to or knowledge of the best practices when it comes to dating. [22:08.7]

The closest real-life analogy that I’ve discovered to this was when I went scuba diving for the first time getting my PADI licensing, and the first time I did an open water dive, I looked up, and I was 10 meters down on the seabed, looking up at the water, and it was so unnatural, I started to panic. I had to surface pretty quickly because I was starting to hyperventilate. There was an example of that, because I surfaced and then the instructor was like, What happened? and I was like, I don’t know, I just panicked.

Then I realized that I can’t trust my senses that if I look up and I’m thinking, It is very unnatural for me to be down here and I shouldn’t be down here. I should be drowning, and I can’t trust my instincts there. I have to trust the training. I have to trust my intellect, my cognition that tells me right now, look at my instruments, focus on the task at hand, which, in this case, was a bunch of drills of recovering my breathing hose and apparatus, and so on. [23:04.2]

I heard something similar in the Navy SEALs training or Hell Week or something like that, where they’re doing a deep-water dive around a wreckage and it’s supposed to be deep enough that it’s completely dark, or maybe they do this at night, a night dive with no lights at all and they just have their instruments, their compass or whatever pointing where they need to go. Despite their natural instincts, which might get them very confused, if they just follow their natural instincts—they’ll go the wrong direction and it’ll get even worse, so despite your natural instincts—you trust your training. You trust the instruments.

That’s what I was able to do as I was coming out of, growing out of the anxious attachment. It was crucial to know what the best practices were for those dating situations, so that despite my natural instincts at the time of acting out the anxious attachments, to instead recognize “Oh, that’s the anxious attachment,” but then to do the best practices anyway. [24:02.7]

When it comes to dating, if you want to optimize your success in that area, in addition to the therapeutic process, there’s also the fact that this is a specialized area of life and that there are indeed best practices, and that you can learn these dating skills before you’re even doing the therapeutic process or alongside it.

Okay, so let’s take a moment to recap the major points we’ve covered so far.

We started with an understanding of IFS therapy or Internal Family Systems therapy, and an understanding of the concept of parts, this idea that our psyche comprises multiple parts, each with its own role and emotions and personality. We explored how identifying and understanding these parts, particularly those involved in anxious attachment, is crucial.

We then delved into the importance of the self, or the higher self, the true self, in managing these parts. We talked about how leading from this confident, compassionate core can help harmonize our internal system, and we went through strategies for healing and integrating using IFS, and emphasizing the techniques for acknowledging, understanding and negotiating with our parts. [25:08.4]

Now, let’s not forget the serious consequences of not managing your anxious attachment style. If left unchecked, this can lead to a cycle of unhealthy relationships, constant anxiety, and an underlying sense of insecurity and unhappiness. It’s like living in a house where the foundation is cracking, but choosing to ignore it. Eventually, the whole structure is at risk.

But let’s pivot to the brighter side. Imagine relationships where you feel confident and secure because you’ve grown from your anxious attachment style to a more secure attachment style and where the need for constant reassurance fades away. Picture yourself responding to relationship challenges with calmness and clarity rather than fear and desperation. Imagine a life where your sense of worth and happiness comes from within you, not from how others perceive or treat you.

This is not just about improving your romantic relationships. It’s about transforming your entire approach to life. It’s about building a solid foundation for yourself, where you’re not constantly rocked by the waves of others’ opinions or actions. [26:10.3]

Moving from anxious to secure attachment opens up a world of possibilities. It allows you to form deeper, more meaningful connections, not just with others, but with yourself. It leads to a sense of peace and stability and calm that permeates every aspect of your life.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please hit a like, or subscribe or follow on whatever platform you’re listening to this on. Let me know what you thought of this episode. Leave a comment. Send me a message. I love to get your feedback. If this helped you in any way, please share it with anyone else that you think could benefit from it.

Thank you so much for listening. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. Until then, David Tian, signing out. [26:50.5]

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