Can Anxious-Avoidant Relationships Work?

Can Anxious-Avoidant Relationships Work?

Ever wonder why you always seemed so hesitant to commit to a serious relationship? Or why you always felt you needed to preserve some space between y

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Ever wonder why you always seemed so hesitant to commit to a serious relationship? Or why you always felt you needed to preserve some space between you and your partner? That could be because of your avoidant attachment style.

How you are in your relationship is largely influenced by your attachment style. How you relate to other people, how you form attachments, and build relationships are all dependent on your attachment style. If you’re the avoidant type, continue reading to find out whether a relationship with an anxious type can work for you.

What are Attachment Styles?

We all develop our own style of attachment during our early years. Once established, whatever attachment style we develop tends to stay with us and influences how we relate to other people in intimate relationships.

Secure attachment style

Those who formed secure attachments during their early years tend to follow the same secure attachment pattern even in their adulthood. Of all the attachment styles, those with a secure personality are the ones who have the most positive view of themselves, as well as of their partners and relationships.

Adults who develop secure attachments also have a higher likelihood to be satisfied in their relationships. They usually feel connected and secure, which is how they’re able to let their partners enjoy their freedom and independence.

Avoidant attachment style

You will most likely develop an avoidant attachment style if you were surrounded by insensitive and emotionally distant adults during your early years. This is usually what happens to people whose parents or primary caregivers encouraged independence and discouraged crying and other emotional displays.

Adults who have an avoidant attachment style tend to be very self-contained, independent, and cerebral. They also tend to suppress their emotions, and usually respond to stress, conflict, and even intimacy by distancing themselves. Avoidant adults value their independence, and they don’t like the idea of needing anyone.

couple having bedroom problems

Experts further classified the avoidant attachment style into two subtypes. Those who are dismissive-avoidant tend to be loners, and they have a dismissive attitude towards their relationships, how other people feel, and even their own emotions.

Those who are fearful-avoidant, on the one hand, have a more complicated attachment style. They may appear as if they desire to be in a relationship. However, once the partner becomes too emotionally close or the relationship becomes too intimate, they will try to detach and distance themselves.

Anxious attachment style

This attachment style is common to those who grew up in an environment wherein the parent is sometimes nurturing but insensitive at other times. When the parent is like this, the child tends to feel insecure and confused. And these feelings tend to stay with them until adulthood, making them feel anxious in their relationships.

Adults with an anxious attachment style tend to feel insecure and self-critical. They always worry that their partner will eventually reject and leave them, making them distrustful and always seeking reassurance. Because they feel emotional hunger, they may act desperate in their relationships.

Anxious-Avoidant Relationships – Will They Work?

Just like how opposites attract, people with an anxious attachment style somehow always tend to gravitate towards those who have an avoidant attachment style. It’s not the healthiest of combinations, but it can work.

The thing about attachment styles is that most people aren’t aware of it. There’s a mutual attraction between someone who’s avoidant and someone who’s anxious. That’s because their unconscious needs are expressed by the other.

When you have an anxious style of attachment, you’re familiar with the anxiety that an insecure attachment causes. And you pursue that familiar feeling by being with someone who is avoidant. You know that your avoidant loved one has a tendency to avoid emotional intimacy. That makes you more anxious, yet that’s something you’re familiar with.

If you are avoidant, on the one hand, you may find that being in a relationship with another avoidant person may not necessarily fulfill your emotional needs. You do value your independence, and that’s something that you can greatly enjoy when your partner is also avoiding serious commitments and intensely close emotional connections.

However, when you’re in a relationship with someone who is also avoidant, you won’t be able to practice your behavior of running away and avoiding emotional closeness when there’s really nothing to avoid. But you can do that if your partner is anxious, someone who’s always clingy, insecure, and demanding.

In short, someone with an anxious attachment style validates an avoidant’s need to distance herself emotionally, while an avoidant validates the insecure feelings of someone who has an anxious attachment style. It may sound irrational to others, but such a relationship could actually work.

How Do You Make It Work?

A relationship between someone who is avoidant and another who is anxious is a very challenging one, to say the least. But if you’re determined to make it work, you can actually do so. However, it will require a lot of effort, patience, and communication, and it may take some time to resolve both your issues.

Sit down and talk

couple having serious talk

To make this relationship work, you will both need to actually communicate with each other. This may be difficult to do at the beginning because the avoidant partner will most likely resist.

Understand where you’re both coming from

Knowing your attachment style isn’t enough. You also need to understand your partner’s attachment style and why she’s behaving that way. When you both understand why you both act the way you do, that can help make it easier for you to adjust to each other.

Be patient with each other

It’s not easy to change the attachment style that you’ve been used to since childhood. If you’re avoidant, you may start opening up to your partner gradually, but it will definitely take time before you will feel fully comfortable being emotionally intimate with your partner.

In the same manner, if you’re anxious, it will also take some time before you can feel fully secure that your partner really loves you and won’t abandon you. Be supportive and try to be patient with each other.

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