People with two specific attachment styles frequently find themselves attracted to each other without understanding why.
By Marielisa Reyes
Written on Nov 10, 2023
Photo: Marjan Apostolovic / Shutterstock
In relationships, we often see that people with two particular insecure attachment styles collide the most: anxious and avoidant.
All attachment styles play an important role in shaping our romantic connections with one another, and people with these two are likely to find themselves caught in negative cycles.
Expert couples therapist Julie Menanno is a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships. In a recent Instagram post, she discusses exactly why people with anxious and avoidant attachment styles so often attract one another.
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A post shared by Julie Menanno | The Secure Relationship | Relationship Expert (@thesecurerelationship)
Why Anxious And Avoidant Attachment Styles Attract
The Anxious Partner
According to the Attachment Project, someone with the anxious attachment style, has an intense fear of rejection and abandonment. Grappling with self-doubt, they often question if they even deserve true love.
Combine this with emotional instability, the anxious partner doesn’t know what a healthy long-term relationship looks like and so they may find themselves initially drawn to the avoidant partner. To them, the avoidant partner is an anchor to their fluctuating emotions.
It’s important to note that when genuine love does come their way an anxious partner will typically try to avoid it.
Because healthy relationships are unfamiliar to the anxious partner, a partner with a secure attachment style may make them highly uncomfortable, especially in the beginning.
The Avoidant Partner
As adults, the Attachment Project says individuals with an avoidant attachment style are typically independent, self-directed, and uncomfortable with emotional closeness and intimacy. Yet, they appear self-assured and confident.
When it comes to relationships, the avoidant partner doesn’t pursue too many romantic relationships. Instead, they may choose to put most of their energy into their career. But, when they do decide to pursue a romantic relationship, they are often the chaser.
This works for the anxious partner, since it makes them feel wanted and loved. Plus, they view their partners fluctuating emotions as normal, since they are used to feeling emotionally intruded upon.
It is important to note that avoidant partners may struggle with emotional engagement and commitment.
Forming a Healthy Relationship Between People With Anxious and Avoidant Attachment Styles
In this delicate dance of love, the anxious and avoidant partners may find a balance, but must be cautious to not let negative patterns consume their relationship. When the relationship is balanced, it can serve as a platform for healing.
Even if only one partner takes the initiative to work on themselves, it can inspire growth in the other.
By working on personal growth and understanding, they may increase the odds of their relationship working.
Remember it is never too late to develop a secure attachment within yourself, which can then become the cornerstone of a better relationship.
The response to Menanno’s Instagram post was flooded with personal experiences.
With one user writing, “This is mind blowing — if only because my wife and I have done the work to really understand what all these examples are getting at.”
Yet, there were some concerns that Menanno decided to elaborate on. One of which included if these two types of styles can truly learn to be with one another.
In response, Menanno stated, “Yes yes and yes. 90% plus of struggling couples fit this dynamic to one degree or another … so the question isn’t can anxious-avoidant couples grow and feel better? It’s can any distressed couple grow and feel better?” And we all know the answer to that question…of course they can.”
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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a Bachelor’s in Psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career and family topics.