Anxious and avoidant

Attachment Styles and How they Affect Your Relationships

Written By Mark Manson – filed under Relationships

If you’ve ever putzed around the internet, looking for why your relationships might all be screwed up (and screwed up in the same ways, I might add), then you’ve probably come across Attachment Theory.

Attachment Theory is an area of psychology that describes the nature of emotional attachment between humans. It begins as children with our attachment to our parents. The nature of this attachment, and how well it’s fostered and cared for, will then influence the nature of our attachment to romantic partners later in our life.1

Attachment theory began in the 1950s and has since amassed a small mountain of research behind it. Two researchers, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, found that the nature in which infants get their needs met by their parents significantly contributes to their “attachment strategy” throughout their lives. 2

Your attachment style doesn’t explain everything about your relationships, but it probably explains a great deal of why your close relationships have succeeded/failed in the manner they did, why you’re attracted to the people you are attracted to, and the nature of the relationship problems that come up again and again for you.

Table of Contents

  • The Four Styles of Attachment
  • How Attachment Styles Are Formed
  • Attachment Styles and Relationships
  • What’s Your Attachment Style?
  • Can Your Attachment Style Change?

According to psychologists, there are four attachment strategies adults can adopt: secure, anxious, avoidant, and anxious-avoidant.3

Secure Attachment Style

People with secure attachment strategies are comfortable displaying interest and affection. They are also comfortable being alone and independent, and display a healthy level of self-confidence. They’re able to correctly prioritize their relationships within their life and tend to draw clear boundaries and stick to them.

Secure attachment types obviously make the best romantic partners, family members, and even friends. They’re capable of accepting rejection and moving on despite the pain, but are also capable of being loyal and sacrificing when necessary. They have little issue trusting people they’re close to and are trustworthy themselves.

Secure types comfortably form intimate relationships not only with partners, but also with friends. They have no trouble revealing themselves to and occasionally relying on others when the situation calls for it. And they are excellent caregivers.4

According to research, over 50% of the population are secure attachment types.5

Meet Secure Sarah

  • I find it easy to get emotionally close to my partner.
  • When I show my feelings for my partner, I know that they feel the same about me.
  • I know that my partner will be there when I need them.
  • I want to have my partner with me when I am upset.
  • I don’t worry about my partner leaving me.

Anxious Attachment Style

Anxious attachment types are often nervous and stressed about their relationships. They need constant reassurance and affection from their partner. They have trouble being alone or single. They’ll often succumb to unhealthy or abusive relationships.

Anxious types have trouble trusting people, even if they’re close to them, yet excessively rely on others for their emotional needs and to resolve their problems. Their behavior can be irrational, sporadic, and overly-emotional. They’re the ones complaining that everyone of the opposite sex are cold and heartless. And probably bursting into tears while doing so.

This is the girl who calls you 36 times in one night wondering why you didn’t call her back—let’s call her Anna. Or the guy who follows his girlfriend to work to make sure she’s not flirting with any other men.

Women are more likely to be anxious types than men,6 but it’s okay, there’s still plenty of insecurity to go around.

Meet Anxious Anna

  • My partner is reluctant to get as emotionally close as I would like.
  • When I tell my partner my troubles, I feel like they don’t really care.
  • I find it hard to forgive my partner when they let me down.
  • I often worry that my partner doesn’t love me.
  • I fear that our relationship will end.

Avoidant Attachment Style

Avoidant attachment types are extremely independent, self-directed, and often uncomfortable with intimacy. They’re commitment-phobes and experts at rationalizing their way out of any intimate situation. They regularly complain about feeling “crowded” or “suffocated” when people try to get close to them. They are often paranoid that others want to control them or box them in.

In every relationship, they always have an exit strategy. Always. Avoidants often construct their lifestyle in such a way to avoid commitment or too much intimate contact.

In surveys, avoidant types score uniquely high on self-confidence and uniquely low on emotional expressiveness and warmth. They not only reveal themselves far less to their partner and friends, but also tend not to rely on others, even when they should. They score lower than other types as caregivers, meaning they’re not to be relied upon when in a pickle. 7

It’s a sad fact that relationships tend to be controlled by those who care least. Therefore, avoidants tend to be the ones in control in both friendships and romantic relationships, as they are almost always willing to leave. This is opposed to anxious types, who let themselves be controlled in both.8

This is the guy—we’ll call him Alex—who works 80 hours a week and gets annoyed when women he dates want to see him more than once on the weekend. Or the girl who dates dozens of guys over the course of years but tells them all she doesn’t want “anything serious” and inevitably ends up ditching them when she gets tired of them.

Men are more likely than women to be avoidant types,9 but as always, there’s plenty of neuroses to go around.

Meet Avoidant Alex

  • I prefer to keep to myself when I’m around my partner.
  • I don’t talk to my partner about my feelings.
  • I don’t give my partner the chance to let me down.
  • I don’t want to be around my partner if I’m feeling upset.
  • I wouldn’t care if my partner left me.

Anxious-Avoidant Attachment Style

Anxious-avoidant attachment types (also known as the “fearful or disorganized type”) bring together the worst of both worlds. Anxious-avoidants are not only afraid of intimacy and commitment, but they distrust and lash out emotionally at anyone who tries to get close to them. Anxious-avoidants often spend much of their time alone and miserable, or in abusive or dysfunctional relationships.

Anxious-avoidants are low in confidence and less likely to express emotions, preferring to suppress them.10 However, they can have intense emotional outbursts when under stress.11 They also don’t tend to seek help when in need due to a distrust of others. This sucks because they are also incapable of sorting through their own issues.12

Anxious-avoidants really get the worst of both worlds. They avoid intimacy not because they prefer to be alone like avoidants. Rather, they avoid intimacy because they are so terrified of its potential to hurt them.13

According to studies, only a small percentage of the population qualifies as anxious-avoidant types, and they typically have a multitude of other emotional problems in other areas of their life (i.e., substance abuse, depression, etc.14).

Meet Anxious-avoidant Aaron

  • I want to get emotionally close to my partner, but I worry about them hurting my feelings.
  • I want to feel close to my partner, but I also don’t trust them to want to be close to me.
  • I can’t live without my partner, even though being with them isn’t working.

As with most psychological profiling, these types aren’t monolithic qualities, but scalar in nature and somewhat independent.

For instance, according to the book Attached by Amir Levie and Rachel Heller, I scored about 75% on the secure scale, 90% on the avoidant scale, and 10% on the anxious scale. And my guess is that 3-5 years ago, the secure would have been lower and the anxious would have been higher, although my avoidant has always been solidly maxed out (as any of my ex-girlfriends will tell you).

The point is, you can exhibit tendencies of more than one strategy depending on the situation and at different frequencies. Although, everyone has one dominant strategy. So Secure Sarah will still exhibit some avoidant or anxious behaviors, Anxious Anna and Avoidant Alex will sometimes exhibit secure behaviors, etc. It’s not all or nothing. But Anxious-avoidant Aaron will score high on both anxious and avoidant types and low on the secure scale.

Like I said previously, our attachment styles as adults are influenced by how we related to our parents (or one parent/primary caregiver) as young children. As helpless little babies, this is our first and most important relationship of our lives, so it naturally sets the “blueprint” for how we perceive all relationships as we mature.15

We use this relationship blueprint as we age into late childhood and adolescence, when we typically start to form important relationships outside of our immediate relationship with our parent(s). Our peer group takes on a larger role in our lives as we continue to learn how to relate to others. These experiences further influence our attachment style as we eventually become romantically involved with others, which, in turn, also influence our attachment style.16

So while your early experiences with your parent(s) do have a considerable influence on how you relate to others, it’s not the only factor that determines your attachment style (though it’s a big one) and your attachment style can change over time (more on this later).

Generally, though, secure attachment types regularly have their needs met as infants. They grew up feeling competent among their peers, but were also comfortable with their shortcomings to a degree. As a result, they exhibit healthy, strong boundaries as adults, can communicate their needs well in their relationships, and aren’t afraid to leave a bad one if they think they need to.

Anxious types, on the other hand, receive love and care with unpredictable sufficiency as infants. Growing up, they have positive views of their peers, but negative views of themselves. Their romantic relationships are often overly idealized and they rely too heavily on them for self-esteem. Hence the 36 calls in one night when you don’t pick up your phone.

Avoidants like Alex would have got only some of their needs met as infants, while the rest were neglected (for instance, Alex might have gotten fed regularly, but wasn’t held enough). So Alex grows up holding a negative view of others but a positive view of himself. He hasn’t depended too much on his romantic relationships for his needs and feels like he doesn’t need others for emotional support.

Anxious-avoidant Aaron, though, would have had an abusive or terribly negligent childhood. He grew up having a hard time relating to his peers. So as an adult, he seeks both intimacy and independence in romantic interactions, sometimes simultaneously, which, as you can imagine, doesn’t really go well.

Different attachment types tend to configure themselves into intimate relationships in predictable ways. Secure types are capable of dating (or handling, depending on your perspective) both anxious and avoidant types. They’re comfortable enough with themselves to give anxious types all of the reassurance they need and to give avoidant types the space they need without feeling threatened themselves.

Anxious and avoidants frequently end up in relationships with one another more often than they end up in relationships with their own types.17 That may seem counter-intuitive, but there’s order behind the madness. Avoidant types are so good at putting others off that oftentimes it’s only the anxious types who are willing to stick around and put in the extra effort to get them to open up.

For instance, Avoidant Alex may be able to successfully shirk Secure Sarah’s pushes for increased intimacy. After which, Secure Sarah will accept the rejection and move on. But Anxious Anna will only become more determined by a man who pushes her away. She’ll resort to calling him for weeks or months on end until he finally caves and commits to her. This gives Avoidant Alex the reassurance he needs that he can behave independently and Anxious Anna will wait around for him.

Often these relationships produce some degree of dysfunctional equilibrium as they fall into a pattern of chaser-chasee, which are both roles the anxious and avoidant types need in order to feel comfortable with intimacy.

Anxious-avoidants only date each other or the least secure of the anxious types or avoidant types. These relationships are very messy, if not downright abusive or negligent.

What all of this adds up to, which is the same conclusion I propose in my book, is that in relationships, insecurity finds insecurity and security finds security, even if those insecurities don’t always look the same. 18 To put it bluntly, to everyone who has emailed me over the years complaining that all of the people they meet are insecure, or have trust issues, or are needy and manipulative… well, let’s just say I have some bad news for you.

If you don’t have an idea of what your attachment style is yet and want to take a test, you can take this one. It’s a great resource that will give you an idea of your attachment style across different relationships—parents, friends, romantic partners.

I also really like it because you can track how various aspects of your attachment strategy change over time.

If you don’t want to take the test (takes maybe 10 minutes), the gist of it is this: if you’re consistently avoiding commitment, avoiding your romantic partners, shutting them out, or not sharing things with them, then you’re probably pretty avoidant.

If you’re constantly worrying about your partners, feel like they don’t like you as much as you like them, want to see them 24/7, need constant reassurance from them, then you’re probably anxious.

If you’re comfortable dating people, being intimate with them and are able to draw clear boundaries in your relationships, but also don’t mind being alone, then you’re probably secure.

Note, however, that there are some individual differences in how strongly we might identify with each attachment style. For example, you might be securely attached in most areas but have some anxious or avoidant tendencies in other situations.

That said, most people typically have a predominant attachment style they tend to fall back on in their close relationships.

The good news is that your attachment style can change over time—although it’s slow and difficult.

Research shows that an anxious or avoidant who enters a long-term relationship with a secure can be “raised up” to the level of the secure over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, an anxious or avoidant is also capable of “bringing down” a secure to their level of insecurity if they’re not careful.19

Also, extreme negative life events, such as divorce, death of child, serious accident, etc. , can cause a secure attachment type to fall into a more insecure attachment type.20

For instance, anonymous man may be more or less secure, get married to Anxious Anna, bring her up to a more secure level, but when they run into money trouble she falls back to her anxious level, cheats on him and then divorces him for all of his money, sending him into a tailspin of avoidance. Anonymous goes on to ignore intimacy and pump-and-dump women for the next 10 years, afraid to become intimate with any of them.

If you’re beginning to think that anxious and/or avoidant behavior corresponds to the fake alpha syndrome and other insecure behavior I describe in men in my book, then you’re correct. Our attachment styles are intimately connected with our confidence in ourselves and others.

Psychologists Bartholomew and Horowitz have hypothesized a model showing that one’s attachment strategy corresponds to the degree of positive/negative self-image, and the positive/negative image of others. 21

Secures exhibit both positive self-images and positive perceptions of others. Anxious types exhibit negative self-images, but positive perceptions of others (hence their needy behavior).

Avoidants exhibit positive self-images and negative perceptions of others (hence their arrogance and fear of commitment), and anxious-avoidants exhibit negative perceptions of just about everything and everyone (hence their inability to function in relationships).

Using this model as a roadmap, one can begin to navigate oneself to a more secure attachment type.

Anxious types can work on developing themselves, creating healthy boundaries and fostering a healthy self-image. Instead of constantly looking for “the one” who will magically solve all their problems (and then calling them 36 times in one night), they can look for things that will make them a better, healthier person both in body and mind.

One of my most common pieces of dating advice is for men to find something they’re passionate about and good at and make that a focal point of their life rather than women. Needless to say, the same goes for women as well.

Once they’re content with who they are, anxious types can then work to become more aware of their tendency to seek partners that reaffirm their negative self-image.22

Remember what I said about insecurity finding insecurity? Anxious types will do well to break out of that cycle and surround themselves with people, friends and lovers alike, who lift them up, rather than knock them down. And to deepen those relationships. The positive emotional experiences they get from healthy relationships, especially profound ones like with a spouse, will re-shape their view of the world, reduce their anxieties, and help mold them into more secure types.23

Avoidant types can work on opening themselves up to others, and enrich their relationships through sharing themselves more. Research shows that simply not avoiding relationships can help avoidants move away from their avoidant tendency.24 And similar to anxious types, avoidants should stop seeking to reaffirm their view of the world with every single person they meet—not everyone is untrustworthy or clingy.

Another one of my most common pieces of advice to people is that it’s your responsibility to find something great in everyone you meet. It’s not their responsibility to show you. Become curious. Stop being judgmental.

For the unlucky few who find themselves both anxious and avoidant, they can follow the advice for both types above. Focus on getting to know themselves, their fears and insecurities, embrace them, and learn to work with them, rather than against them. A few simple tools to help them do this are journaling and meditation. Professional therapy can also be effective.25

And of course, some of you may be reading this and thinking, “I like being alone and being able to sleep with whoever I want. I wouldn’t change a thing.” And it’s true—many people lead happy, successful lives as avoidant or anxious types. Some even have successful long-term relationships as an anxious or avoidant.

But research shows secures are consistently more happy and feel more supported,26 are less likely to become depressed,27 are healthier,28 retain more stable relationships, and become more successful29 than the other types.

And I can tell you from my personal experience, I’ve felt myself drift out of a strong avoidant (and slightly anxious) attachment type to a more secure attachment type over the past six years of working on myself in this area. And I can unequivocally say that I’m happier and more fulfilled in my relationships and with the women I date now than I ever was back then.

I wouldn’t trade it back for anything.


  1. Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(4), 644–663.↵
  2. Ainsworth, M. S., & Bowlby, J. (1991). An ethological approach to personality development. American Psychologist, 46(4), 333.↵
  3. Bartholomew, K., Kwong, M. J., & Hart, S. D. (2001). Attachment. In Handbook of personality disorders: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 196–230). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.
  4. See this study for how “Secures” score in an interview across 15 personality aspects. Those not mentioned here include: balance of control in romantic relationships and friendships, crying frequency, and warmth.↵
  5. Mickelson, K. D., Kessler, R. C., & Shaver, P. R. (1997). Adult attachment in a nationally representative sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(5), 1092.↵
  6. Ciocca, G., Zauri, S., Limoncin, E., Mollaioli, D., D’Antuono, L., Carosa, E., Nimbi, F. M., Simonelli, C., Balercia, G., Reisman, Y., & Jannini, E. A. (2019). Attachment Style, Sexual Orientation, and Biological Sex in their Relationships With Gender Role. Sexual Medicine, 8(1), 76–83.↵
  7. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.↵
  8. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.↵
  9. Ciocca, G., Zauri, S., Limoncin, E., Mollaioli, D., D’Antuono, L., Carosa, E., Nimbi, F. M., Simonelli, C., Balercia, G., Reisman, Y., & Jannini, E. A. (2019). Attachment Style, Sexual Orientation, and Biological Sex in their Relationships With Gender Role. Sexual Medicine, 8(1), 76–83.↵
  10. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.↵
  11. Shaver, P. R., & Mikulincer, M. (2002). Attachment-related psychodynamics. Attachment & Human Development, 4(2), 133–161.↵
  12. Maunder, R., & Hunter, J. (2012). A Prototype-Based Model of Adult Attachment for Clinicians. Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 40, 549–573.↵
  13. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226–244.↵
  14. Caspers, K. M., Yucuis, R., Troutman, B., & Spinks, R. (2006). Attachment as an organizer of behavior: implications for substance abuse problems and willingness to seek treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 1(1), 32.↵
  15. Chris Fraley, R. (2002). Attachment Stability From Infancy to Adulthood: Meta-Analysis and Dynamic Modeling of Developmental Mechanisms. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6(2), 123–151.↵
  16. Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Hazan, C. (1994). Attachment styles and close relationships: A four-year prospective study. Personal Relationships, 1(2), 123–142.↵
  17. Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Davis, K. E. (1994). Attachment style, gender, and relationship stability: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66(3), 502–512.↵
  18. Vicary, A. M., & Fraley, R. C. (2007). Choose Your Own Adventure: Attachment Dynamics in a Simulated Relationship. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(9), 1279–1291.↵
  19. Arriaga, X. B., Kumashiro, M., Simpson, J. A., & Overall, N. C. (2018). Revising Working Models Across Time: Relationship Situations That Enhance Attachment Security. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 22(1), 71–96.↵
  20. Davila, J., Burge, D., & Hammen, C. (1997). Why does attachment style change? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(4), 826–838.↵
  21. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: a test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226.↵
  22. Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(4), 644–663.↵
  23. Epstein, S. (1980). Self-concept: A review and the proposal of an integrated theory of personality. In E. Staub (Ed.), Personality: Basic issues and current research. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.↵
  24. This longitudinal study finds that avoidants who initiate new relationships during the study are less likely to remain avoidant than those who do not.↵
  25. Research shows that compelling emotional experiences that result from a strong professional relationship with a therapist (not a romantic one, mind you) could help change one’s existing model of the world.↵
  26. Ognibene, T. C., & Collins, N. L. (1998). Adult attachment styles, perceived social support and coping strategies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15(3), 323–345.↵
  27. Roberts, J. E., Gotlib, I. H., & Kassel, J. D. (1996). Adult attachment security and symptoms of depression: The mediating roles of dysfunctional attitudes and low self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(2), 310–320.↵
  28. Feeney, J. A. (2000). Implications of attachment style for patterns of health and illness. Child: Care, Health & Development, 26(4), 277–288.
  29. Blustein, D. L., Prezioso, M. S., & Schultheiss, D. P. (1995). Attachment Theory and Career Development: Current Status and Future Directions. The Counseling Psychologist, 23(3), 416–432.↵

How to Fix an Anxious-Avoidant Relationship (And When to Leave)

Are you struggling to fix an anxious-avoidant relationship? 

I hear you. Relationships with insecure  partners are difficult because of their unpredictability. I always get asked: “How can I fix my anxious-avoidant relationship?” and “When should I leave them?”

If you’re feeling like you’re always chasing a partner or being chased, you might be caught up in a toxic relationship pattern due to avoidant or anxious behaviors.

So, can anxious and avoidant relationships work? Here’s what you need to know. 

What is your attachment style is? Take the quiz! 

What is an anxious-avoidant relationship?

Let’s begin with the basics.

Anxious-avoidant relationships can be explained through attachment theory.  

This theory consists of four attachment styles (anxious, avoidant, disorganized, and secure). These unique styles are often formed as children and continue to affect us in our adult romantic relationships.

So they essentially become the blueprints for how we give and receive love. 

Attachment styles fall into the primary categories of secure or insecure. 

Those with insecure attachment styles are usually classified as anxious or avoidant — or both.

We can surmise that:

  • Anxious adults struggle with feelings of unworthiness and a desire for approval and stability.
  • Avoidant adults avoid commitment because they are afraid of being emotionally smothered or over-controlled, and have a desire for personal freedom and autonomy.


I like to call Anxious people “Open Hearts”, Avoidant types “Rolling Stones” and Disorganized, “fearful avoidant” individuals –“Spice of Lifers. ” 

That’s because “anxious” and “avoidant” sound way too judgy and can be self-fulfilling. (And who needs judgment in their lives?)

 Additionally, these labels don’t adequately describe what they are labeling. If you are going to call a group of people “anxious” because they “reach for” connection when threatened, and hold it in opposition to a group of people you call “Avoidant” because they tend to “move away” when feeling threatened, you are suggesting anxious people never demonstrate avoidance, and avoidant people never demonstrate anxiety– but they do. 

Sometimes anxiously reaching for someone to fill up the void inside, is a way of avoiding a bigger inner emotional issue. And avoidant partners are avoidant because they are avoiding anxiety! They wouldn’t be avoidant if they didn’t have anxiety.  To specify…

Open Hearts are partners who try hard to impress their partners, and are capable of tremendous generosity, as well as big emotional highs and lows, but no matter what they do, it seems to push others away.  

Rolling Stones are dismissive-avoidant. They’re cut off from their emotions and it’s hard for them to reach deep, loving, and reciprocal emotions. They can also seem to be selfish, but they perceive it as self-preservation. 

Spice of Lifers, again, are fearful-avoidant. They’re suspicious and distrustful of other people’s emotions and their own ability to sustain a healthy romantic relationship. They also want connection, while at the same time are terrified of it. So they send a lot of mixed signals, and are typically very confused and doubting.

As you can see, It’s important to understand your attachment style and that of your partner. Why? Because understanding them is key to improving your relationships. 

Here are some signs that will tell you if you’re either an avoidant or anxious partner in a relationship. 

How do anxious and avoidant partners behave in relationships?

Have you ever thought:

If the answer is yes, you’re likely an anxious partner in a relationship.  

Or perhaps you ARE the avoidant partner. Do you feel things like:

Sound familiar? You’re probably an avoidant type in a relationship. 

But how do avoidant and anxious partners attract each other? That’s what we’ll look at next.

Are avoidant and anxiously attached individuals attracted to each other?

In short, yes. We tend to pair with people who confirm our pre-existing beliefs about relationships. It’s called “confirmation bias.”

And confirmation bias can be bad for relationships.

This means that anxious types pair with avoidant individuals because avoidant people behave in a dismissive way. In the same sense, avoidant people attract anxious partners who make them feel smothered. This confirms their belief in what a relationship should look like. 

However, that doesn’t mean that this is a case of “opposites attract” (as most people think). Instead, it’s a case of “like-sees-like.” 

Let me explain.

Anxious people choose partners that won’t give them what they want. As a result, they cling to them which means they never have to surrender to the act of receiving (which requires a letting go of control and embracing the unknown). They also never have to confront the fear of being seen for who they truly are, and then being rejected for their unworthiness or not-good-enoughness. 

In other words, they choose partners that don’t look too closely. And so, they are kept safely spinning their wheels in a relationship pattern that they are familiar with: I call it “the validation trap.” 

The validation trap is a cyclical pattern of needing to prove yourself to someone else, in order to gain approval, and experience a validating affirmation of your worthiness, which you probably never received as a child. 

It’s hard to break out of this pattern, because if you do, you don’t know who you are, or how to defend your “right” to be who you are, need what you need, or want what you want. In other words, it requires an overhaul of your sense of self and identity. No easy task!

On the other hand, avoidant individuals truly are anxious. If they didn’t feel anxious, they wouldn’t be avoidant. 

But avoidant individuals have varying degrees of awareness surrounding their anxiety, what they think it is, and how they arrived at it. Usually, their anxiety stems from one of two experiences: emotional dismissal, and/or emotional confusion. 

If a Rolling Stone is dismissive avoidant, they usually were taught to systematically repress and cut themselves off from their emotions, and so they struggle with accessing them, which makes them unaware of them. 

So, these dismissive folks (Rolling Stones) tend to fear and avoid self reflection. They attribute most of their inner conflicts to physical ailments, and/or external circumstances. 

Fearfully avoidant individuals (Spice of Lifers) are typically aware of their inner conflict, but they experience a lot of confusion around their emotions, and struggle to control them. 

That is because they likely experienced trauma as a child, or experienced a lot of mixed signals around how to deal with emotions, growing up. So they swing from being emotionally explosive, to rigidly locking them down.

Ultimately, we are trying to get the relationship we didn’t get as children. Our wounded inner child is often aroused and stimulated in these types of relationships.

Well-known relationship expert, Harville Hendrix, explains this spark of attraction as meeting your “Imago” partner. An Imago partner is someone whom you instinctively know will replicate your past attachment relationships.

Subconsciously, you’re trying to “correct” what went wrong in your past. 

But instead of fixing anything, you’re continuing the cycle. Here’s what I mean by that. 

What is your attachment style is? Take the quiz! 

What does it feel like to date an anxious or avoidant partner?

Do you feel like you’re always dating the same type of person? Maybe you find yourself back in the same old patterns, with partners that:

  • Don’t appreciate you and take your generosity for granted
  • Show up with fireworks one day and then disappear without explanation the next
  • Treat you like an intimate partner, but don’t give you any physical intimacy
  • Only seem interested in sex, but exclude you from other aspects of their lives
  • Avoid labeling the relationship and make you feel neurotic for needing it
  • Behave in a needlessly secretive fashion
  • Ignore you for weeks then text “miss you” at 2am 

On the other hand, maybe your partner is:

  • Intrusive while monitoring every move you make
  • Extremely demanding and never gives you any space
  • Sensitive, taking everything personally and over-analyzing what you say
  • Negative and interprets most situations as such
  • Controlling and presses for too much too fast
  • Disrespectful of your boundaries or a need for space
  • Expecting you to read their mind and blows up when you don’t
  • Hot one minute and cold the next

If you date people who continuously show these qualities, you may be caught in an anxious-avoidant relationship cycle. It’s a roller coaster relationship fueled by insecure attachment styles. I call it “the anxious-avoidant trap.”

The anxious-avoidant trap is a situation in which we find ourselves caught in unhealthy, push-pull relationships. Fortunately, you can spot the anxious-avoidant trap and correct it. Like I discuss in this short video: 


Before we discuss how to fix this toxic relationship trap, let’s examine exactly what these types of relationships look like.

How anxious-avoidants fail to break the cycle

Katie and John’s relationship has the distinctively addictive push-pull of an anxious-avoidant relationship. 

It’s on-again and off-again with a “rollercoaster” quality to it.

That’s what my student Stacy felt, too, before she joined my program Healing Attachment Wounds. Her 17-year marriage had ended and she found herself in a complicated relationship: 

An anxious-avoidant relationship has intoxicating highs and intolerable lows fueled by an insecure attachment dynamic.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Both insecure attachment styles are trying to create a sense of security through controlling their external conditions. 

This extends to controlling the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of their partners. 

Let’s look at what this means in terms of anxious and avoidant partners’ behavior in relationships.

Anxious partners implement “protest behaviors” to try to establish or re-establish connection in an insecure relationship. Some signs of protest behaviors include:

  1. Excessive contact followed by punitive withdrawal
  2. Keeping score in the relationship
  3. Acting hostile
  4. Various forms of emotional manipulation

Avoidant partners, on the other hand, will exert a sense of control by practicing detachment and using deactivating strategies. These behaviors might include:

  1. Their words and their actions don’t match up. (For example, Verbally expressing an avoidance of commitment, but acting committed or vice versa.)
  2. Focusing on their partner’s flaws
  3. Pining for the “one that got away”, rather than being fully present in the current relationship.
  4. Avoiding emotional intimacy in a current relationship, by avoiding labeling the relationship, for example.
  5. Hyper or hyposexuality. For example, maybe they’re hot and heavy with you, but exclude you from the rest of their life. Or, maybe you’re stuck in the friendzone, but the chemistry is amazing.

However, these emotional defenses don’t work. Instead, they just feed the cycle. 

So, now you know what an anxious-avoidant relationship is and how it leads couples into a trap. 

But can an anxious-avoidant relationship work? That’s what we’ll look at next. 

Can an anxious-avoidant relationship work?

Time for the big question: 

Can an anxious and avoidant relationship succeed?

Yes, but it does require work.  

Take my student Amanda. She was hitting a rough patch in her 9-year marriage and knew things needed to change. After enrolling in my course Healing Attachment Wounds she understood the push-pull dynamic of her relationship.

By understanding her and her husband’s attachment styles she was able to step back and observe her own behavior, rather than act in the moment. 

You need to understand how to communicate your needs without triggering a partner’s emotional defenses, like the ones I listed above, to succeed in your relationships. 

But how? You’re not a love guru or expert therapist. In fact, you’re probably fed up trying to fix relationship after relationship.

Here are the steps to take to communicate better in your relationships. 

Communicate without triggering your partner

Knowing your partner’s attachment style can help you both communicate. 

It lets you understand what specific verbal statements to avoid in conversation.

When communications turn into arguments, it’s easy to rub against the rawest parts of one another.  

Inevitably, you get caught in an unavoidable downward spiral.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) pioneer Sue Johnson refers to this downward spiral as “Demon Dialogues.” 

The first step to avoiding these is recognizing that these dialogues are a broken bridge between the head and heart. Fix the bridge by connecting back in with your heart. The head will follow. 

How can you better communicate? It begins with recognizing their verbal triggers and learning how to actively avoid them.

How to treat avoidant partners

It might help to first take an inventory of what statements and actions trigger you or your partner the most.

I polled 200 members of my online community to find out more about how individuals struggling with insecure attachment experience feeling triggered. 

And I discovered that they really need to feel safe, in love. Also, depending on a person’s attachment style, certain phrases might be particularly annoying.

Let’s break it down by their attachment types.

How to treat Rolling Stones

For avoidant Rolling Stones, they might feel triggered by phrases like:

“I know you better than you know yourself.”

“You wouldn’t say/need/do that, if you really love me.”

“Nothing is wrong, I’m fine.”

“If I have to ask, then it doesn’t count.”

“Keeping [insert anything] private means you’re lying/cheating on me.”

“If you can’t figure that out, then you don’t know me at all.”

Rember, Rolling Stones want more space because it helps them preserve their connections. Help them feel the reassurances they are looking for with these tips.

Say: “We have talked about this, you have told me the ways that being in a relationship can be difficult for you. I understand that this is not about me. Do what you need to do. I’ll be here.”

Ask if they could express themselves and their needs more clearly, while staying in a loving mindset.

Help them feel reassurance that the relationship matters and is worth the effort.

Find common ground around whatever issue or situation is at hand.

Show respect and acknowledge their behavior.

Understand that they feel rejected or unloved in some way.

Show consistency by following up with them, but don’t chase them because too many messages can keep them frozen.

Be there for them in a more gentle and balanced way. Even if they need space, tell them you’re not going anywhere.

Prove you don’t want to change or control them by pointing out specific things that you love about them. 

How to treat Spice of Lifers

The other avoidant type, Spice of Lifers, can also feel annoyed by any or all of the above. The difference is that they also express frustration around statements that hint at taking away their control or questioning it. 

They might also detest statements that are intentionally ambiguous, because they can leave them questioning their own intuition and reality. (That said, they might utter those statements themselves).

Spice of Lifers might feel triggered when told phrases like:

“You’re way too intense. You’ve lost control of yourself.”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about, I know what’s going on here.”

“You’ll just mess it up, let me do it for you.”

“You love me, you just don’t know it yet.”

“Maybe one day we’ll be together for real. Right now, I just don’t know.”

“You’re so amazing, but I don’t think you’ll ever be satisfied.”

“You haven’t given us a real chance, you’re just responding to your past trauma.”

“I love you, but I could never truly be with you.”

Unfortunately, reassuring Spice of Lifers can be very difficult. Their attachment style is literally defined by an inability to self-soothe and an inability to receive soothing from others. This is often the result of trauma, which we will discuss more in a moment.

How to decrease avoidant attachment

People can change their attachment styles over time. That can mean a decrease in attachment avoidance.

One experiment studied couples who participated in a series of brief activities. Those that performed activities designed to increase closeness and intimacy showed a decrease in avoidant attachment. Those same people rated their relationships as higher-quality than before the experiment.

To benefit from this, connect with your avoidant partner through activities that appear to be long-lasting. 

For example, take turns answering intimate and thoughtful questions with your avoidant partner. Simply open up a bit and encourage them to do the same.

Unfortunately, this study did not have the same positive effect on anxious individuals. So how do you treat an anxious partner? That’s next.

How to treat an anxious partner

For anxious Open Hearts, they might be triggered or rattled when a partner says things like:

“Love is not enough, but I still love you.”

“I am sorry you feel that way.

“I don’t know what you’re so upset about, it’s not that big of a deal.”

“I need some time alone to think about it.”

“I don’t know why I feel that way, the chemistry just must be off.”


Here are some reassurances that anxious types are looking for:

“It’s alright, we’ll get through this.”

Pull them close into a hug and tell them it will be okay.

Use a calming voice and listen to them, showing you’re not scared of their feelings.

Reaffirm that what they say and think is important to you. 

When they cry, just let them. Maybe hold them while they do it.

That’s how you communicate with both avoidant and anxious partners. But how do you finally end the anxious-avoidant dance? That’s next. 

Ending the anxious-avoidant dance

Ready to end the anxious-avoidant cycle?

Here’s the thing: 

You need to start by paying attention to how YOU show up.

Sure, it all doesn’t come down on you. Your partner also has to want to change.

You can start by setting clear boundaries. This will help you find a way out from all the mixed signals in insecure relationships. 

How? Here are four ways to establish boundaries and successfully stop the dance to fix your anxious-avoidant relationship.

1. Figure out what you want. If that’s too hard at first, figure out what you don’t want and look at the opposite. 

Ask yourself:

What doesn’t feel good to you in your relationship?

What feelings or behaviors do you wish would replace that condition?

Don’t just think about it. Write it down. Draw it out. Make these thoughts real in some way. Already, you have started to establish boundaries. 

2. Be the braver partner. Want to know where the relationship is going? Decide where YOU want it to go, first. Want to know what someone is feeling? Decide how YOU are feeling and create space for the other person’s feelings without judgment.  

In short, be the change you want to see. Your partner will either fall in line, or they will fall away. If that happens, the best thing you can do is let them go. It’s a hard truth, but it is in alignment with your highest good. More on that later.

3. Stop operating from a place of “perceived potential.” So often, we hold onto things (people, places, jobs, ideas, identities) that no longer serve us because we think there is “so much potential” in them. Of course there is, but you can’t chase a fantasy.

It’s easy to focus on the idea of a happy ending, but you’re constructing your own reality. The problem is that you cannot control your partner’s reality. Therein, lies the seeds of both your discontent. It’s a paradox of the potential of love and unconditional love.

Instead think, how effectively has that potential being realized? 

4. Stop avoiding your own problems by trying to solve someone else’s. This goes for individuals with all insecure attachment styles. We tend to project our own inner conflict outwards onto the people closest to us. Why? It is easier than confronting it within ourselves.

For example, Open Heart, anxious partners will ask countless friends to help them interpret a partner’s behavior before and after they ask their partner directly for an explanation. They think that whatever their partners say is inadequate.

What I mean is that the hole we are trying to fill is bottomless, so long as we keep looking for something outside of ourselves to fill it. If you work on yourself, you may find better success with your partner.

Now you know how to treat your anxious partner and finally break free from the anxious-avoidant relationship cycle. What’s next?

Want to know what your attachment style is? Take the quiz! 

Moving forward from the anxious-avoidant relationship cycle

Once you finally break free from the cycle, now what? People with secure attachment styles have more stable and long-lasting relationships. So, can you cultivate a more secure attachment style?

To put it briefly, yes. You can achieve a secure attachment style, even quickly. I talk more about it here: 

If you’re trying to find security fast, you have to shift your perceptions of what it means to be “secure.”

Being secure does not mean that the worry is not there. 

It means you have more spaciousness inside to buffer the effect of the worry. 

But say you’ve done it all. You’ve shown up. You’ve set boundaries. But nothing happens.

When is it time to leave your partner? Here’s what you need to know. 

When to leave an anxious-avoidant relationship

You love your partner and want the relationship to work, but how much is too much? How do you know when to break up with an anxious-avoidant person?

Really, you must choose what’s best for you. Sometimes, that means leaving them. It’s not healthy for anyone to stay in a toxic relationship.

It’s an effective strategy to treat your partner according to their attachment style, but sometimes it’s not enough.  

Unfortunately, some relationships are incurably incompatible.

How to know for sure if you’re not compatible

Anxious-avoidant relationships can work, but sometimes couples are simply incompatible.

Mismatched needs and values may not be deal breakers on their own, but they can be if you add attachment fears into the mix. 

Now you have damaging, defensive communication going on.

You must be emotionally honest with yourself – and your partner. It is the only way to expose true attachment insecurity and incurable incompatibility. 

Remember? Communication is key.

For a dive into this topic, this video explains it all.

Is the potential you see in your relationship valid?

You’re probably holding onto this relationship because you see the potential in it. You must accept whether the potential is actually being realized. 

You can control your reality, but not theirs.

This freewill might not be what you’re hoping for, but it’s the same freedom that lets us be who we are. If we cannot be who we are, we cannot truly love or accept love.

In other words, we have to let go of our own grand notion that we possess any control over others. Because, no one has that power over us either.

This concept is explained deeper in this short video: 

Stop thinking: What would they do without me? Would an avoidant even miss me?

Instead, ask yourself: How do YOU feel? And, how could you feel?

Analyze how YOU are feeling & listen to your body

Here’s an easy way to figure it out. Stop and ask yourself, truthfully:

  • Does this person contribute to your sense of purpose?
  • Do you see yourself as happy with this person in the future?
  • Do you feel safe speaking your mind?
  • Are they generous in spirit?
  • Do they have similar long-term goals?
  • Do you have similar values?
  • Can they communicate about sex with you?

If you’re answering these questions negatively, you have your answer. I believe the body knows when it’s time to let go. 

As a Reiki practitioner, I would also encourage you to decipher when to leave a toxic relationship by listening to your chakras. Here’s a video clip to help you with this.

In the end, if your partner has no willingness to change, they probably won’t. It’s not easy to make an avoidant partner recognize your love. If you are showing up for your partner, they must show up for you.

With these strategies, you can overcome your fears to walk away from a relationship that isn’t serving you. The motivation to save a relationship must ultimately come from both partners, not just you.

And if you want to learn more, find out what your attachment style is using this quiz: 

Over to you!

There you go. Now you know what an anxious-avoidant relationship is, how to fix the relationship, how to treat an avoidant or anxious partner, and how and when to walk away..

Anxious-avoidant relationships can work, they just need partners who understand what each other needs.

Now, I’d love to hear from you!

Let me know in the comments below: 

What did you learn today?

understand the types of attachment • Articles on the website of the publishing house BOMBORA

  • Articles
  • May 26, 2021

We talk about three types of attachment and explain what to do if your type interferes with building relationships with others.

More interesting things below

He wants to watch TV after work, but she misses him so much. She wants noisy parties, and he likes to be alone with his thoughts. And it seems like they can't be together. But it's not. It is not necessary to part with a loved one, scandal and hurt. It is enough just to find out your type of attachment and build relationships. And the book of family therapist Annie Chen "Attachment Theory" will help with this. nine0010

Anxious type

Traits of people with an anxious type:

  • They are incredibly generous and considerate towards those they care about
  • Fear of being rejected and abandoned
  • Willingly tell others about their feelings
  • Often blame others for their own feelings, eg "You make me feel so bad!".

The biggest fear of people with this type is to be alone. They do not feel safe in a relationship, fear that they will be betrayed and left alone. They really need the support and warmth of a partner. They quickly sink into despair and are disappointed in everything in advance. nine0010

An example of people with an anxious attachment type:

Asha was in her early twenties when she noticed a strange tendency in herself. She easily approached people and made friends, but after a few years the relationship ended because of her anger and jealousy, since the interests of friends were not always connected only with her.

Healing the Anxious Self

If you recognize yourself in the description of the anxiety type and want to change something, here are a few steps to help you do it: nine0010

  • Be patient with people
  • Remember that if someone cannot meet your needs, there is nothing wrong with that.
  • Learn to trust your partner and look for support within yourself
  • Forgive yourself for everything you have done in the past
  • Treat yourself with understanding


Avoidant traits:

  • Self-reliant and prefer to handle problems on their own nine0004
  • Do not complain or whine
  • Talk about anything but themselves
  • Often notice memory problems
  • Avoid conflicts and negative emotions.

Avoidance behavior can manifest itself in various ways: through ignoring the conflict, through denial of what is happening, or even through avoidance of reality.

There are milder reactions: the desire to please others or to be needed - up to the rejection of one's needs. Reactions can be different, the main thing is that they help a person protect himself from feelings of shame and insecurity. nine0010

An example of avoidant attachments:

Kyle has been married for sixteen years. In recent years, quarrels with his wife have become much more frequent. The wife complained that Kyle does not talk about his feelings and reacts to everything with hostility. Kyle, on the other hand, wanted his wife to be happy, but did not know what was needed for this, so every time the woman raised this topic again and again, he plunged into stress.

Healing the avoidant self

If you recognize yourself in the description of an avoidant type of attachment and it has spoiled your relationship more than once, remember that this is not your fault. These patterns of behavior were established in childhood, before you learned to make your own decisions. nine0010

Here are some steps to help build stronger relationships:

  • Accept your wants and needs
  • Learn to be more open with loved ones
  • Accept that everyone is different
  • Learn to deal with other people if you offend them.

Reliable type

Traits of people with reliable type:

  • Easily adapt to new conditions and changing circumstances nine0004
  • Believe in relationships and prioritize them
  • Appreciate working on relationships, especially if things go wrong
  • Deal with difficulties and disagreements with confidence.

A reliable type of attachment allows a person to think clearly and adequately perceive the situation, even if a conflict arises. A person with this type does not experience stress due to closeness with other people. For people with secure attachments, connecting with others is a natural human need, a pleasant experience that they enjoy. nine0010

An example of people with secure attachments:

Last year, Tilda faced a real set of bad luck. She was laid off at work, her mother died of cancer, and a few months later her house and her husband burned down in a terrible fire. Tilda appreciates her marriage because, going through all these difficulties, her relationship with her husband has become a source of stability for her. “It was tough for both of us, but we knew we would break through eventually. I don’t even know what I would do without him, ”Tilda shared. nine0041

It is important to remember that any type of attachment can be developed. This is not an innate, but an acquired quality.

Annie Chen's book Attachment Theory will help you build relationships with family, colleagues, and friends. In it you will find exercises, practices and tests that will allow you to better understand yourself and others and start building healthy relationships.

Buy a book.

Tell everyone what an interesting article you found!

Attachment theory. Effective Practices to Build Strong Relationships with Loved Ones and PartnerAnnie Chen

898 ₽


Read related

Interview • February 1, 2021

Is it worth giving a second chance after infidelity: advice from a psychologist

We find out why people cheat, how to survive infidelity and whether it can be avoided.

Book Reviews • December 10, 2018

The Best of Psychology: Closing the Gestalts and Discovering the Best Version of Yourself

How to stop worrying and being sad, get along with generations X, Y and Z and find your love. nine0010

How different types of attachment affect our relationships and what to do about it

April 30, 2022 Relationship

If you choose a partner from the wrong category, the union is unlikely to be strong.

We are all programmed to be attached to other people. That is why the child cries when he is separated from his mother for some time. But depending on the behavior of loved ones in our childhood, personal experience and other factors, each of us forms our own type of attachment. It affects not only our relationships, but also ourselves. nine0010

Types of attachment


For people in this category, loving and caring for someone is absolutely natural. They are able to form a close bond with another person without worrying about petty misunderstandings.

"Reliable" accept partners as they are and treat them with respect. They do not play games or use manipulation, but openly talk about their successes and failures, needs and feelings. In addition, such people are attentive to the desires of a loved one and try to fulfill them. nine0010

“Reliable” people also have stable self-esteem, so they calmly perceive criticism and competently cope with conflicts. Instead of heating up the situation, they try to solve the problem, forgive a loved one or apologize.


People with this type of attachment desire closeness and are able to maintain close contact. Their main problem is elsewhere. They are afraid of being abandoned, and for the sake of maintaining relationships, they forget about their own desires and needs in order to please their partner. But as a result, they feel unhappy. nine0010

Anxious are fully occupied with relationships and are always "connected" to a partner. At the same time, they may worry that he wants intimacy to a lesser extent. This type takes everything to heart and gives a negative connotation to any comment of others in his address, expecting the worst.

To get rid of anxiety, such people begin to manipulate their partner. They deliberately move away to get attention and hear that they are needed. "Anxious" can react emotionally, do not answer calls, provoke a loved one to jealousy and threaten to break up. In addition, this type is quite jealous and tends to often call or write to a partner, even when he asks not to do so. nine0010


It includes two subtypes. The first - "disparaging" - is able to easily "cut off" difficult emotions. Narcissists and those who are used to suppressing their feelings fall into this category. The second - "scared" - wants close relationships, but is afraid of them and does not know how to trust.

In general, avoidant people avoid intimacy because independence is more important to them. Of course, this does not mean that they do not like close communication at all. It's just that for them there is a certain line that should not be crossed. nine0010

In relationships they are independent, rely only on themselves and do not like to talk about their feelings. Avoiders defend their freedom and try their best to delay the moment when they have to make any commitments. And when people with this type of attachment still start a relationship, they keep their distance, notice even the smallest flaws in a partner, nostalgic for a free life or dream of an ideal union.

Avoiders react sharply to any attempts to control them or restrict their freedom. In such situations, they begin to distance themselves again: flirt with others, make rash decisions, and also ignore a loved one, his emotions and needs. The partner may complain that they feel unwanted, and also that the "avoidant" is not open enough and does not share his secrets and experiences. nine0010

Often a person with an avoidant type of attachment considers his partner to be clingy, and against this background, he is even stronger and more independent. He doesn't worry about the end of the relationship. However, when a crack appears in a couple, the “avoiders” pretend that they do not need any connections at all and “bury” their feelings even deeper. At the same time, people with this type of attachment have the same need for intimacy as others - it is simply suppressed.

Anxiety avoidant

It is also called ambivalent or disorganized. This attachment variant combines the anxious and avoidant types, respectively, and is commonly found in survivors of abuse. Such people crave love, intimacy and care, but are afraid to enter into a relationship. They are afraid of the prospect of rejection. At the same time, they believe that they are unworthy of good things.

How type of attachment affects relationships

Even the most independent of us are surprised when we notice how dependent we become when we enter into a romantic relationship. This happens because an intimate relationship subconsciously stimulates our type of attachment and we begin to either trust a person or be wary of everything that happens. nine0010

To better understand how everything works in a couple, you can analyze the type of partner's attachment and start with his relationship to intimacy. Does he try to meet your needs or aggressively respond to your requests? Does he say that he is uncomfortable, or does he take a step forward and then distance himself? Self-confident people will not play games, show intractability, refuse to compromise.

Anxious and avoidant often form codependent relationships. Each of them does not understand their needs and the needs of the partner. That is why they are drawn to each other. Both types are rarely interested in "reliable" people, simply because healthy relationships are unfamiliar territory for them. And an alliance with someone who has similar problems confirms their fears and feeds the belief that they are not good enough for love. nine0010

Another feature of the "anxious" is that they quickly enter into a relationship, instead of pausing and analyzing how a potential partner meets their requirements. They focus on similarities with another person, idealize the chosen one and ignore possible problems. At the same time, the “anxious” forget about their needs and do not know how to properly build communication with a partner.

This is precisely the reason why the anxious type converges with the avoidant one. When the "avoiders" begin to move away, the experiences of the "anxious" intensify. They confuse their longing and anxiety with love, not realizing that in fact the problem is not in them, but in the inaccessibility of a partner. And unfortunately, whatever they do, they can't change it. "Anxious" spend more and more energy on maintaining relationships, afraid to face the truth. And the “avoiders” need someone who will look for meetings with them. It helps them meet their emotional needs. nine0010

In addition, in contrast to the reliable type, "anxious" and "avoidant" do not know how to resolve conflicts, but instead begin to defend themselves and attack the enemy. Without conflict, impulsive behavior, and "chasing" an unavailable partner, unreliable types sink into depression associated with past relationships.

How to Change Your Attachment Type

While most of us don't change our attachment type, it can be adjusted to make us feel more comfortable. Psychotherapy or relationships with a “reliable” partner help with this. nine0010

Changing the type of attachment is also inextricably linked with overcoming codependency. This can be done in a few steps:

  • Get rid of the feeling of shame and work on self-esteem. This will allow you not to take everything to heart.
  • Start expressing your opinion more assertively.
  • Learn to notice, respect and express your emotional needs.
  • Be honest - stop playing games and manipulating others.
  • Practice acceptance of yourself and others. nine0004
  • Stop overreacting to little things. It is difficult, but possible, if you identify the main triggers and find out the mechanism for their appearance.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Practice conflict resolution and compromise.

Anxious people need to take responsibility for themselves and learn to take their time at the initial stage of a relationship.

Learn more